the online database of Japanese folklore



Translation: wild woman
Habitat: mountain streams
Diet: unknown

Appearance: Yajo are aquatic monsters that resemble human women and kappa. They have long hair, bright red lips, and slender eyes. Their bodies are covered in dull blue scales like fish or snakes. Their webbed hands and feet have only three fingers and toes each. There are three bright red chevron-like markings going down their backs, and their bellies, palms, and the webbing between their fingers and toes have a slightly pinkish hue. Yajo emit a strong, offensive, fishy odor.

Behavior: True to their name, yajo are wild. They live in the woods away from civilization, near mountain streams. They are fast and aggressive, and full of energy. They love to wrestle. Their foul smell can rub off onto those they wrestle with.

Origin: Yajo are recorded in Kaikidan ekotoba, an anonymous picture scroll from the end of the Edo period which features several unique yōkai from Kyūshū. There are no other known records of yajo outside of this scroll.

Legends: In Chikuzen Province in the 1740’s, a man named Kyūroku was gathering firewood in the forest. Suddenly a yajo jumped out and grappled him. Kyūroku was a man of great strength, so he was able to throw the yajo off without any trouble; but she kept springing back to grab him again over and over. No matter how many times Kyūroku threw the yajo off, she sprung back at him.

Finally Kyūroku managed to escape from the yajo. He ran to an inn, where he collapsed from exhaustion. Kyūroku was near death, but the guests at the inn gave him medicine and food and managed to revived him. However, Kyūroku’s smell was absolutely unbearable.

Alphabetical list of yōkai