the online database of Japanese folklore



Translation: hairy priest; hairy boy
Habitat: near bodies of water
Diet: small fish

Appearance: When a crab or a shrimp reaches a very old age, it can change into a yōkai called a kebō. Kebō are crustacean-like creatures about the size of a four or five year old child. They have a human-like torso and a bald head, with a face that resembles a crab’s shell. Their lower body is covered with a thick skirt of hair. They have six limbs. Each of their four legs ends in a black-tipped claw-like appendage, and each arm ends in two such claws.

Behavior: Like crabs and shrimp, kebō live near the edges of bodies of water. They feed upon small fish. Although they have human-like faces, they cannot speak. They do, however, smile and laugh when they see humans.

Origin: A picture and description of a kebō are recorded in Shokoku yōkai zukan, a picture scroll from the middle of the Edo period featuring a number of illustrated yōkai with descriptions. This is the only known document detailing this yōkai. According to the scroll, the kebō was sighted in Satsuma Domain, in present-day Kagoshima Prefecture.

Alphabetical list of yōkai