A Blob

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Nuppeppō Japan

“Passive, genderless blob one can eat to gain eternal youth.”

Basic Facts:

  • This yōkai has a pungent body odor because it’s supposedly made up of corpses. I knew there was a catch…Makes it that much harder to eat.
  • While other spirits have some form of origin tale…the nuppeppō doesn’t. Even though it’s been around since the 18th century.
  • You’ll most likely find this blob in deserted streets, abandoned temples, and…you guessed it…graveyards.
  • They are entirely harmless!
  • Although the blob is just that…a blob…the nuppeppō has folds all over it. Which makes it look like it has eyes, a nose, a mouth, arms and legs.

All Umbrellas Mean Bad Luck

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Kasa-obake | Japan

“Animated umbrellas that jump around on one leg.”

Basic Facts:

  • Here we have another yōkai (like the ittan-momen and bake-kujira.) This can sometimes be thrown under the same name as the ittan-momen: a tsukumogami, but not all consider it to be that.
  • Other names include: karakasa-obake, kase-bake, and karakasa kozō.
  • If you couldn’t tell by the art above, the kasa-obake have a very distinct appearance. It’s usually an umbrella with one eye, hopping around on one leg. In some rare cases, they’ll have two legs but it’s highly unlikely to find. Every once in awhile, it’ll have two arms and sometimes be described to have a long tongue.
  • Initially, the kasa-obake was simply a humanoid spirit with an umbrella on its head…but as time went on the human became an umbrella. This is why people believe it to be a tsukumogami.
  • This is the most well-known yōkai (that is an object) and has been incorprated into card games, haunted houses, anime (Japanese animated shows), manga (Japanese comic books/graphic novels), and movies.

The Least Expected Myth

This week’s mythological monster is a day late but well worth it! This week’s highlight was one for the books and a new one even I hadn’t heard of.

Keep reading if you want to hear about a bolt of cotton that will smother you to death if given the chance.


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Ittan-momenJapan

“Sentient roll of cotton that flies through the night and suffocates people.”

Basic Facts:

  • In Japanese mythology, the ittan-momen is a Yōkai, more specifically a Tsukumogami. A yōkai is a supernatural spirit in folklore while a tsukumogami is a tool that has been possessed by a supernatural spirit. Haunted items…spooooooky.
  • These spirits are more likely to be found in Kagoshima.
  • The type off cotton possessed is also what can be used to make clothes. Check your labels!
  • “Ittan-momen” literally translates to “one bolt of cotton” or “one tan of cotton.” It gives the idea of what the measurements are of the item (28.8 cm by 10 m).
  • Believe it or not…the ittan-momen has been adapted plenty in Japanese modern culture. Shows (anime, primarily) and monuments have been made in appreciation.

Foxy Lady

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Gumiho Korea

“Nine-tailed fox that freely transforms into a beguiling woman.”

Basic Facts:

  • How does the fox become the woman? It lives a thousand years.
  • The goal of the gumiho (also called Kumiho in Korea) is to seduce boys and lure them off to eat their organs. They focus on primary organs, such as the liver and heart.
  • Since the legend of the gumiho originated in China and also has a sister legend in Japan, the gumiho is differentiated by the item it carries. The gumiho keeps a marble of knowledge but it’s also used to help drain human energy. If a human steals the marble…they gain knowledge!
  • Even though they can turn into a woman, they maintain fox-like features.
  • Hoping for some good news? If the gumiho doesn’t kill or eat any humans…they’ll become human. Don’t forget…they’re spirits, not actual animals.

Nine Imps

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Dokkaebi Korea

“Impish spirits that transform from inanimate objects.”

Basic Facts:

  • Also called Korean goblins, they like to play tricks on humans (or help them – it can go either way.)
  • Physical descriptions of the dokkaebi can be found on ancient roof tiles but are usually frightening to look at.
  • Into wrestling? So are these spirits! in order to pass them, you should be able to wrestle your way out of their clutches of evil! Their weak spots include their right side and (some of them are one-legged) a simple push will get them down.
  • There are different types of dokkaebi. To be frank, there are nine common types.
  • Sometimes, rituals are hosted to get in the good graces of the dokkaebi but other times.

Overlapping Myths and Traditions

This is the first of our mythological creatures from East Asia and can we just say: we are so excited to share these!

For this week, we’re looking at the traditional Chinese dragon, also known as the East Asian Dragon. This creature is widely known within and beyond Asian history, used as symbols of great strength and honor. But let’s jump right in and see what we could possibly teach you!


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Chinese DragonChina

“Long, serpentine creature with elemental powers.”

Basic Facts:

  • Don’t be fooled! The serpent-like animal is the more commonly known dragons. They’re also described as turtles and fish.
  • The dragon usually has powers to control water, rainfall, typhoons, and floods (do you see the common trait of strength behind this all?)
  • Scholar Wang Fu of the Han dynasty recorded myths about long dragons having distinct features. It’s an interesting Google search!
  • Depictions of the East Asian dragon sometimes feature a flaming pearl. It’s symbolic of spiritual energy, wisdom, prosperity, power, immortality, thunder, or the moon.
  • Wings? Nope! East Asian dragons fly with the help of their mystical powers, nothing physical helps them soar through the sky.

Creature From The Black Lagoon…?

We’ve finally made it to the end of European legends and mythological creatures. Next week we’ll be venturing over to East Asia to see what sort of creatures and legends we can inspire you to incorporate into your writing!

Onto this week, though! Could we have found what inspired the Creature from the Black Lagoon?


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Vodník Czech Republic

Basic Facts:

  • The appearance of the Vodník varies…from a man with webbed hands and gills to a humanoid frog. The description of this creature depends on the location of the myth. His story gets around!
  • On the side of good or evil? The Vodník can be aligned with either. But the bad ones are the recorded ones. They try to drown people who are in their territory!
  • To pass the time, this creature likes to play cards, smoke pipes, or just hang out near the water and overlook their home.
  • Sometimes, fisherman give the spirit tobacco as a trade for fish.
  • They don’t have a mentioned home…but sea water is deadly for them! Just speculating, not confirmed.

Ragnarok

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FenrirScandinavia

“Monstrous wolf destined to devour the world.”

Basic Facts:

  • Fenrir is the son of Loki and the giantess, Angrboda.
  • This huge wolf was chained up because the gods knew how powerful he was. He was only going to break free when Ragnarok occurred, which is Doomsday. And no, we’re not going to start talking about the Marvel movies.
  • Fenrir has made more appearances in modern culture than people realize, mainly references in video games but has made an appearance or two in movies and on TV.
  • He’s a father! He has two sons: Skoll (meaning ‘treachery’) and Hati (meaning ‘he who hates’ or ‘enemy’) with the giantess, Hyrrokkin. Though this is just an assumption. Also, like father like son.
  • His other name is “Fenris.”

 

Wrong Alps

When I first saw the name of our next mythological creature, I immediately thought, “how are the Swiss Alps lore?” I would like to confirm, we are not talking about the Swiss Alps. Just regular alps.


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AlpGermany

“Shapeshifting goblin that evokes nightmares in sleeping victims.”

Basic Facts:

  • Similar to the picture above, an alp appears small and child-like. Most times, elf-like. But don’t be fooled: they’re still goblins! These little creatures are male a good chunk of the time, too.
  • They can be summoned by witches.
  • What’s so threatening about an alp? Well, they wear a little hat which gives them the powers they do use to terrorize people. They come into a person’s home while they’re sleeping. They’ll sit on the person to cause nightmares. Sometimes, they’ll travel through the person’s nostril to gain control of their whole being for a short period of time.
  • These little guys may be bad most of the time, but there’s a reason! The evil eye is what causes the alps to act out. You can remove it…forcing them to lose their evil intent.
  • If an alp is caught in the act of terror by morning, the alp can be asked to leave. They’ll try to bargain so don’t fall for their tricks! Beware!