the online database of Japanese folkore

Hari onago


Translation: hook girl
Alternate names: hari onna (“hook woman”)
Habitat: streets and alleys; found on Shikoku
Diet: young, virile men

Appearance: The fearsome yōkai known as hari onago appears at night on the roads of the island of Shikoku. In the dark, they are indistinguishable from ordinary young women, unusual only for their loose, disheveled hair. Upon closer inspection, the tip of each hair is fitted with a needle-like, barbed hook—although if you are close enough to notice these hooks, it is probably already too late.

Interactions: Hari onago wander the streets searching for victims—usually young, single men walking alone. When a hari onago comes across a suitable man, she smiles coyly at him. If the smile is returned, she attacks: she releases her hair, and the barbed ends lash out with blinding speed and a will of their own, sinking deep into her victim’s flesh. A hari onago’s strength is so great that even the strongest man can be overpowered by her hooks. Once her victim is ensnared and rendered helpless, she rips him into pieces with her hooks and devours the remains.

It is technically possible for a very fast runner to escape a hari onago, providing his home is close enough and has a sturdy door or gate. If he can get himself safely indoors before her hooks catch him, he may be able to survive until sunrise—when yōkai vanish. The scars and gouges she leaves in the wooden door frame remain as a testament to her viciousness, and as a cautionary tale to young men not to pick up strange girls.

Alphabetical list of yōkai