10 Horrifying demons and spirits from Japanese folklore

 Mental Floss:

Oni (demons) and yurei (ghosts) have played a role in Japanese culture for thousands of years, and stories of new spirits continue to be told today. Much of this list is comprised of hannya, which in Noh theater are women whose rage and jealousy turned them into oni while still alive. Here are just a few tales of demons, ghosts, and women you don’t want to mess with.


Kiyohime was a young woman scorned by her lover, a monk named Anchin, who grew cold and lost interest in her. Realizing he had left her, Kiyohime followed him to a river and transformed into a serpent while swimming after his boat. Terrified by her monstrous form, Anchin sought refuge in a temple, where monks hid him beneath a bell. Not to be evaded, Kiyohime found him by his scent, coiled around the bell, and banged loudly on it with her tail. She then breathed fire onto the bell, melting it and killing Anchin.


There are many variations of this popular Japanese tale. Yuki-onna is usually described as having white skin, a white kimono, and long black hair. She appears in snowfall and glides without feet over the snow like a ghost. She feeds on human essence, and her killing method of choice is to blow on her victims to freeze them to death and then suck out their souls through their mouths.


Shuten Dōji is described as more than 50 feet tall with a red body, five horns, and 15 eyes. There’s no need to fear this demon, though. In a legend from the medieval period, warriors Raikō and Hōshō infiltrated Shuten Dōji’s lair disguised as yamabushi (mountain priests) to free some kidnapped women.

The oni greeted them with a banquet of human flesh and blood, and the disguised warriors offered Shuten Dōji drugged sake. After the demon passed out, the warriors cut off his head, killed the other oni, and freed the prisoners.


Also originating in the medieval period, yamauba are generally considered to be old women who were marginalized by society and forced to live in the mountains—who also have a penchant for eating human flesh. Among many tales, there is one of a yamauba who offers shelter to a young woman about to give birth while secretly planning to eat her baby, and another of a yamauba who goes to village homes to eat children while their mothers are away. But they’re not picky; they’ll eat anyone who passes by.

Yamabuas also have mouths under their hair. Delightful!


In another tale of a woman scorned, Uji no hashihime prayed to a deity to turn her into an oni so she could kill her husband, the woman he fell in love with, and all of their relatives. To accomplish this, she bathed in the Uji River for 21 days, divided her hair into five horns, painted her body red with vermilion, and went on a legendary killing spree. Besides her intended victims, anyone who saw her instantly died of fear.


Tengu are impish mountain goblins that play tricks on people, featured in countless folktales and considered purely evil until about the 14th century. They were originally depicted as birdlike, with wings and beaks, though now the beak is often replaced with a comically large nose. They are known to lead people away from Buddhism, tie priests to tall trees and towers, start fires in temples, and kidnap children.

Many legends say the tengu were hypocritical priests who must now live the rest of their lives as mountain goblins as punishment. Locals made offerings to the tengu to avoid their mischief, and there are still festivals in Japan dedicated to them today.


A revenge story made popular by the famous kabuki drama Yotsuya kaidan, Oiwa was married to a rōnin (masterless samurai) named Iemon; he wanted to marry a rich local’s daughter who had fallen in love with him, and, in order to end their marriage, Oiwa was sent a poisoned medicine. Though the poison failed to kill her, she became horribly disfigured, causing her hair to fall out and her left eye to droop. Upon learning of her disfigurement and betrayal, she accidentally killed herself on a sword. Her ghostly, deformed face appeared everywhere to haunt Iemon. It even appeared in place of his new bride’s face, which caused Iemon to accidentally behead her.

Oiwa’s spirit followed him relentlessly to the point where he welcomed death.


This story begins as so many horror stories do: With an overly-confident man who boasted to his friends that he didn’t fear to cross Agi Bridge or the demon rumored to reside there. As oni are known for their ability to shape-shift, the demon at Agi Bridge appeared to the man as an abandoned woman. As soon as she caught the young man’s eye, she transformed back into a 9 foot green-skinned monster and chased after him. Unable to catch the man, the demon later changed into the form of the man’s brother and knocked on his door late at night.

The demon was let into the house and, after a struggle, bit off the man’s head, held it up and danced with it before his family, and then vanished.


In an urban legend from 1979 that swept through Japan, Kuchisake-onna wears a surgical mask and asks children if they think she is beautiful. If they say yes, she takes off the mask to reveal her mouth slit from ear to ear and asks the question again. The only way to escape is to give a noncommittal answer, such as “you look OK.” Barring that, you can distract her with certain Japanese candies. But if the children say yes again, she will cut their mouths to make them look like her.


With a demon for just about everything, why shouldn’t the Japanese have a few for their bathrooms? Aka Manto, one of the more popular demons, hides in women’s bathrooms. In one version of the story, Aka Manto asks women if they would like a red cloak or a blue cloak. If the woman answers “red,” Aka Manto tears the flesh from her back to make it appear she is wearing a red cloak. If she answers “blue,” then he strangles her to death. Unfortunately, if you encounter Aka Manto, there may be no escaping: Some versions of the story say if you don’t answer or if you pick a different color, he will immediately drag you to hell.

Additional Sources: Japanese Ghosts & Demons: Art of the SupernaturalJapanese Demon Lore: Oni, from Ancient Times to the Present; “How the Demon at Agi Bridge in Omi Province Ate Somebody,” from The Demon at Agi Bridge and Other Japanese Tales.

How to Forge the Hattori Hanzo Katana from ‘Kill Bill’

Given the gravitas that the katana wielded by Uma Thurman’s Black Mamba character in the cult Kill Bill franchise was afforded, it is no surprise that the weapon — forged in the films by the legendary Japanese blacksmith Hattori Hanzo — still captures the imagination of blade enthusiasts worldwide.

In the Man at Arms: Reforged YouTube series, Baltimore Knife and Sword enlisted the help of master armorer and engraver Ilya Alekseyev, accompanied by a five-man swordsmithing crew, to recreate the awe-inspiring blade by which no small number of baddies met a gruesome end in Quentin Tarantino’s epic.

Watch the video above and explore the rest of the series here.

Ronin sets a new standard for turn-based ninja stealth-action tactical platformers

“Oh man, Gunpoint,” the person standing behind me at the demo station exclaimed. “I love Gunpoint!”

I wasn’t playing Gunpoint, though you could be forgiven for thinking so — I was actually playing Ronin, a clever action-platformer from indie developer Tomasz Waclawek, on the show floor of PAX South. One of the game‘s core mechanics — a superhuman, arcing leap, which you can use to smash through windows and knock down foes — is remarkably similar to a mechanic that made Gunpoint a standout game back in 2013. Fortunately, the similarities stop there.

Ronin initially launched last year as a freeware game, which Waclawek has improved upon for the full game, which launches later in 2015. In it, you play a vengeful ninja, who, in addition to super-leaping, can climb walls and ceilings, swing on grappling hooks, drop holographic decoys to distract foes, teleport between said decoys and execute foes with a slice (or a throw) of their sword. It’s as fast and as slick as you’d expect a ninja-led action-platformer to be — unless you’re in combat, when it turns into a contemplative turn-based game.

ronin 2

In what may just be the most difficult-to-explain scheme ever conceived, entering an enemy’s field of vision brings the game to a screeching halt, giving you an opportunity to execute one of your deadly acrobatic maneuvers. The action, from this point on, takes place in second-long chunks. Enemies spend one turn lining up their shots or charging melee attacks, which are represented by red lines on the screen. During your one-second chunk, you have to devise a plan to avoid those attacks (which kill you in one hit) or incapacitate your potential attackers.

What makes that idea so brilliant is the game’s ninja locomotion itself. You have to be extremely precise with your movements, because your turn can, and most often will, end in the middle of your jump — and if you happen to be in an enemy’s crosshair when that happens, you’re toast. Trickier still is deciding how to spend your next mid-air turn. Do you throw your blade at a distant foe, leaving you vulnerable until you can recover it? Do you Spider-Man swing out of danger? Or do you continue the arc of your original jump into the fray?

It’s a surprisingly exciting combat system, one that rewards deft maneuvers with combo multipliers and score bonuses. It’s also completely optional — if you can stay in the dark, or on ceilings above unassuming foes, you can stealth-kill the lot of them without ever entering into turn-based mode. It’s not nearly as flashy, of course, but it gets the job done.

Ronin will launch this fall on PC, Mac and Linux. It might be easier to understand if you see it in action — which you can do in the trailer posted below.


Hong Kong restaurant Ronin and Baxter of California collaborate on signature candle

Hong Kong restaurant Ronin and Baxter of California have teamed up once again, this time for a special candle. The Cask candle boasts a floral-whiskey scent with top notes of patchouli and cedarwood, and a base of vanilla.

The candle comes in a Ronin-branded glass and Ronin brand packaging and is available now online from Baxter for $35 USD.

Check out this link:

Hong Kong restaurant Ronin and Baxter of California collaborate on signature candle



Tao Of Sound releases “Ronin”


Recording artists/production duo Tao Of Sound has released their sophomore album, “Ronin,” on Domo Records. Tao Of Sound is comprised of producer/remixer/multi-instrumentalists Taku Hirano and Daniel Pearson.

“RONIN” is the sophomore album from experimental multi-instrumentalists Taku Hirano and Daniel Pearson, otherwise known as the band Tao Of Sound.  Departing from the ambient/lounge vibe of their 2010 debut “METRO“, they went for an edgier sound when composing, arranging, and producing the songs for “RONIN”, and brought in guest instrumentalists and vocalists from around the world.

The album appears after an already impressive career working with a wide array of talents, including some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Dr. Dre, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, and Nine Inch Nails.  Internationally, Tao Of Sound has worked with Academy Award-winning film composer A.R. Rahman (“Slumdog Millionaire“), Cirque du Soleil, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Japanese pop icon Utada Hikaru.  Chances are you’ve already been exposed to their music and production work, as Tao Of Sound has contributed to the soundtracks of a number of television productions and feature films.

Having made a name for themselves as remix artists initially (including remixes for Rap superstar Kanye West‘s 2008 release 808s & Heartbreak and for Grammy Award-winning New Age pioneer Kitaro), “RONIN” allows Tao Of Sound to step to the front of the stage with their eclectic, ever-changing style.  From their first album, which combined Zen-like Eastern influences with electronic beats and rock swagger, to RONIN’s edgy pop sounds and epic world-electronica orchestrations, Tao Of Sound has carved out a completely original musical identity.



Check out this link:

Tao Of Sound releases “Ronin”



47 Ronin official trailer (feat. Keanu Reeves and Rinko Kikuchi)

Here’s the official trailer to 47 Ronin. The film features Rinko Kikuchi (currently in Guillermo del Toro‘s giant robot/Kaiju summer blockbuster, Pacific Rim) and Keanu Reeves.

Looks visually spectacular, although there are definitely comments out there about Keanu serving as the “Great White Savior” in this flick…