the online database of Japanese ghosts and monsters


By on May 31, 2013, in Fukushima, The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, Tōhoku, yōkai


TRANSLATION: a regional corruption of osoroshii, meaning “scary”
ALTERNATE NAMES: odoroshi, odoro odoro, keippai
HABITAT: shrines, temples, and homes; found above gates and doors
DIET: small animals and wicked people

BEHAVIOR: Otoroshi is known by many regional names, most of them being wordplays denoting this monster’s course, wild mane which covers its body, and its fearsome appearance. They appear as hairy, hunched, four-legged beasts with fierce claws and tusks. They can have blue or orange skin.

APPEARANCE: Little is known about this rare and mysterious creature, though its existence has been known of for centuries. Otoroshi are masters of disguise and are rarely seen except for when they want to be. They are most commonly spotted in high places like roofs and gates above temples, and the torii archways at shrines, which separate the physical world from the realm of the gods. They eat the wild animals found in shrines and temples – particularly pigeons, sparrows, and other birds.

INTERACTIONS: Otoroshi act as a kind of guardian of these holy places. They attack humans only rarely: when they spot a wicked or imprudent person near a holy place, or when one tries to enter through the gateway they are guarding. Otoroshi attack by pouncing down on their victim them from above, tearing him to shreds and devouring the remains.

ORIGIN: While its name implies ferocity and its appearance is quite grotesque, it is not known to be particularly dangerous. The name otoroshi, while not a word itself, appears to be derived from variations in regional dialects. It is generally accepted to be a corruption of osoroshii, meaning “scary.” Nothing at all is known of its origins, but it is speculated to be related to a similar yokai, the waira, due to their common habits and environment.