the online database of Japanese folklore



Translation: tree child, shrub child
Habitat: battlefields, places where mass deaths occurred
Diet: blood

Appearance: On the fields of war and sites of vicious massacres, where the blood of thousands of warriors has saturated the soil, a strange kind of tree can be found. From afar, jubokko appear to be ordinary trees, indistinguishable from the various species that dot the landscape. It takes an observant eye to notice the slightly more fearsome features of its branches, or the piles of human bones buried in the undergrowth beneath the tree. In fact, they were once normal trees; but the vast amounts of human blood absorbed through their roots transformed them into yōkai. Thereafter, the trees thirst only for human blood.

Behavior: Jubokko wait for unsuspecting humans to pass underneath their branches. When somebody gets close enough, they attack, snatching their prey with long, jagged, finger-like branches, and hoisting it into their boughs. These branches pierce the skin of their victims, sucking out all of the blood with special tube-like twigs. After the body is drained, the flesh and organs are consumed by birds, insects, and other animals. Only the dry bones fall back to earth. By the time most people are close enough to notice the heaps of bleached bones at the base of the trees, it is too late to escape.

Alphabetical list of yōkai