TRANSLATION: the Japanese reading of its Ainu name, atuy kakura
ALTERNATE NAMES: atsuuikakura
HABITAT: Uchiura bay in Hokkaido
DIET: mainly a scavenger; occasionally eats ships
APPEARANCE: Atuikakura is an enormous sea cucumber which lives deep in Uchiura Bay in Hokkaido.
BEHAVIOR: Atuikakura is rarely seen due its underwater lifestyle. It spends most of its time deep in the water, occasionally attaching itself to chunks of driftwood and floating to other parts of the bay.
INTERACTIONS: Despite rarely being seen, Atuikakura can be very dangerous to ships on the bay. When Atuikakura gets startled, it thrashes about wildly, smashing or capsizing ships which happen to be bear it. It also sometimes mistakes a wooden boat for a piece of driftwood, attaches its mouth to it, and drags the ship under the waves.
ORIGIN: Atuikakura is the Japanese transcription of its Ainu name, atuy kakura. Atuy is the Ainu word for the sea, and kakura means sea cucumber. According to local legend, Atuikakura was formed when a mouru—the traditional undergarment of Ainu women—washed down a river and into the bay. The mouru settled at the bottom of Uchiura Bay and and turned into a giant sea cucumber.
TRANSLATION: standing-collar clothes
APPEARANCE: Eritategoromo is a a Buddhist high priest’s kimono that has transformed into a yokai. It still looks mostly like the high-collared ceremonial robes of a priest, however the long, pointed collar has transformed into a long, pointed nose, and it has sprouted eyes and a beard.
ORIGIN: Eritategoromo was once the kimono which was worn by Sōjōbō, King of the Tengu, who lives on Mount Kurama, north of Kyoto. Sōjōbō is a fearsome, powerful, wise, god-like monster, with the strength of 1000 ordinary tengu. He is a master swordsman, and was responsible for training a number of famous legendary heroes of Japan, such as Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Though he is an ascetic yamabushi and great teacher, like any tengu, Sōjōbō has an evil side too: he is said to feed on children who wander too deep into the mountains.
Sōjōbō was not always a tengu. He was born a human, and became a well respected high priest. He was also proud, and he mistakenly believed that he had achieved satori, or enlightenment. Though he expected to become a Buddha when he died, he transformed instead into a demonic tengu. Even as a tengu, the proud Sōjōbō continued to live as a Buddhist priest, training daily, and wearing his ornate priestly vestments. Either due to Sōjōbō’s extreme pride, or due to being worn by a magical tengu, some spirit became attached to his high-collared robes and they transformed into this yokai.
TRANSLATION: snake obi (a kimono sash)
APPEARANCE: The jatai is a kimono sash which becomes animated and slithers around like a giant snake during the night.
ORIGIN: An old folk belief from Ehime and other parts of Japan says that if you lay your obi out near your pillow while you sleep, you will have dreams about snakes. Because the word for a snake’s body (jashin) is the same as the word for a wicked heart, it is said that the obi itself can manifest a tsukumogami and turn into a murderous agent of jealousy. This snake obi hunts after men, strangling them in their sleep.
TRANSLATION: kosode (a short sleeved kimono) hands
APPEARANCE: Kosode no te is a phenomenon appearing in short-sleeved kimonos formerly owned by prostitutes. It is characterized by a pair of ghostly hands emerging from the sleeves and assaulting nearby people.
ORIGIN: Kosode no te can occur for a number of reasons. One common origin is when a prostitute dies in vain, after working for many years to save up the money to buy her freedom from her owner. Upon death, such women usually had their clothes donated to a temple for prayers to be said over them. However, if the woman was still owed money by her clients when she died, her spirit often reanimated her old clothing, and they leave the temple to find her customers and beg them for the owed money.
Another common origin is when, instead of being donated to a temple, a dead person’s kimono is sold to someone else. If the deceased was unable to properly pass on to nirvana upon death, that person’s spirit occasionally comes back and haunts the kimono.
TRANSLATION: ghost zōri (traditional straw sandals)
APPEARANCE: Straw sandals, known as zōri, and other footwear that have been mistreated and forgotten by their owners can transform into a yokai called bakezōri.
BEHAVIOR: These sandal-shaped yokai sprout arms and legs, and a single, large eye in their centers. They run about the house at night, causing mischief and making noise. Bakezōri have a favorite chant, which they sing as they run about the house on their tiny feet:
Kararin! Kororin! Kankororin! Managu mittsu ni ha ninmai!
Kararin! Kororin! Kankororin! Eyes three and teeth two!
“Eyes three” refers to the three holes where the sandal straps are attached and “teeth two” refers to the two wooden platforms which are attached to the understand of Japanese sandals. The other words are silly, jovial nonsense sounds.