The Illustrated Night Parade of A Hundred Demons
鳥山石燕 Toriyama Sekien
If you can identify these demons in your daily life, the ability will help you not to be harmed by them,
or become one of them.
Oshiroibaba (白粉婆, Face-powder Hag)
She is the assistant of a red-face powder fairy. Appeared as a kind old woman, she often walks
around and ask girls if they want to use her white powder, it can make them beautiful. After they use
it, the skin of their faces will come off and the face-powder hag will collect them.
Yamauba (山姥, The Mountain Hag)
This kind of monster is not beautiful as many others, but its biggest characteristic is that she can
read a person’s mind. A young man got lost in the mountains. When it’s late, he came to an old
woman’s house. However, the young man started to think, “The woman is so sloppy, and the lights
here are flashing. All these indicate that she is a demon.” The old woman laughed coldly and said,
“You must be thinking that this old woman is so sloppy and weird like an old demon.” The young
man was shocked and thought, “She’s just ugly. She won’t eat me in the middle of the night.” She
smiled and said, “You are thinking if I am going to eat you in the middle of the night, are you?” At
this moment, the man was pale but pretended to act as everything was normal. He said, “I am just
tired. I wonder if I can go to sleep now.” But he actually thought, “The woman was boiling water with
such a big pot, she will cook me with it.” The woman said, “Now you’re thinking I am going to boil
the water and eat you in the middle of the night, right?” The man was scared, but he pretended to
be busy and said, “I had been walking all day and was so tired. After eating this hot porridge, I am
going to sleep. I have to walk for a whole day tomorrow!” Then he walked towards his room and lied
down, hoping the old woman will be less cautious. However, the old woman sneered at him and
said, “You are just trying to escape.” At this moment, the man started to run, but the old woman was
so powerful and caught him easily. She had a delicious meal in the midnight. Sometimes in the
Internet world, you just hope others stop reading your mind.
Hanya (般若, Prajnā)
The name originally means “wisdom”. However, only women filled with great hatred and jealousy in
their hearts will transform into this kind of evil spirit. At night, their spirits will go out and haunt the
women they hate. They hurt others and with being aware of it, they just think it is a dream. What is
coming out from her mouth is probably the fire of jealous wrath. It reminds me of my favorite motto
recently, “There is no wisdom without pains; there is no Bodhi without sorrows”(離開煩惱就沒有智
In the famous Japanese comic book “Heart of Sword”(神劍闖江湖), there is actually a character
called “Hanya”. He uses horizontal stripes to create an illusion --- make his arms look shorter than
they really are so enemies can’t avoid his attacks precisely. This is interesting.
Snake Woman 清姬
This is a well-known story in Japan. A woman fell in love with a handsome monk, but the monk ran
away from her. She ran after him, and when crossing a river, she swam hard and became a
half-snake creature. The monk was so scared and hided in the bell in a temple. The snake woman
coiled around the bell, but the monk wouldn’t come out. So she burned him to death with fire.
Finally, she went into a river and disappeared. There was a similar character in the famous game
“Pal” (仙劍奇俠傳) in 1995. Also, one of the well-known tales related to “Dragon Boat Festival” is
“The Tale of the White Serpent”(白蛇傳). But actually, most Chinese people are not aware snake is,
for a long time, a symbolism of “dependent and troublesome woman”.
Jorōgumo (絡新婦/女郎蜘蛛, Spider Woman)
It is a kind of spider which appears in the form of an extremely beautiful woman. Her hair is soft like
silk. When she smiles at you, it’s like many black arrows coming towards you. The men seduced by
her will be half sleep and half drunk. On the third day, she will take the men’s heads away. Beware
of the people who always say nice things to you. Everything has two sides.
Aonyōbō (青女房, The Woman with Black Teeth)
She has a decent job in the palace. However, her boyfriend married another woman. So she
became a monster with black teeth. She often wonders in dark houses. When someone comes to
the house, she will make up and look at her mirror. Actually she’s spying who is coming. If the
visitor is not her old lover who married another woman, she will kill the person. What a shame,
because I think work for the palace is not a bad job. Pretty stable (probably).
It is said that 1 to 3 o’clock in the morning is the darkest time of a day. Many ghosts and monsters
will come out at this time. When extremely jealous, especially when love becomes hatred, some
women will dress up, go to the woods, and perform the ceremony of curse. It is said that the
ceremony cannot be seen by other people, or the power of the curse will decrease, and they will
hurt themselves. The cow-like creature beside her is mysterious, but it looks really like my dog QQ.
Kokuribaba (古庫裏婆, Hag of the Old Priest's Quarters)
She was a monk’s wife. However, she often stole things, and she was very greedy. Afterwards she
became a demon. She eats dead people’s skins and knits clothes with dead people’s hair.
The original thought of the author was trying to put a strange woman in the setting of a normal,
harmonious family. My favorite cartoonist, Itō Junji, has a modern version of it in his work “Happy
Kerakeraonna (倩兮女, けらけら女, Cackling Woman)
Once there was a handsome man in China called Sung-Yu(宋玉). He was so good-looking that
many girls loved him. A beautiful girl climbed up the wall and smiled at Sung-Yu, but he was cold to
her. The girl was so sad and died. She becomes a ghost and seduces men everywhere. It is also
said that this kind of monster was a woman suddenly laughing loudly and sharply in the public. It is
considered a sign of bad luck. I think the story is livelier than the original story in China.
There was once a girl who was a thief. One day she saw a rich woman in the market. She followed
her, and just when she reached out her hand, she suddenly felt a great pain in her arm. She ran to
the riverside and found her arm grew lots of eyes. As she stole more and more things, there were
more and more eyes on her body. So she had to wear long robe and cover a cloth on her head. She
was afraid, but couldn’t stop, and turned into a monster. A monk heard of this monster, and he had
to destroy it before it collected 100 eyes. The monster appeared as a beautiful lady, but the monk
used spell to show its original look. The monster’s 98 eyes shot rays of sparkling lights and numbed
the monk. Just as it nearly got his eyes, to the monster’s surprise, the monk hurt his own eyes and
blinded the monster with incense ashes. At last, the monk’s sacred light shot through the 100-eyed
monster’s chest. At last, the monster turned into ashes.
In a silent night, especially when it’s raining, hundreds or thousands of eyes appear on the walls,
windows and floors. Such a creepy scene. It is a kind of monster that appears when somebody
does something bad and feels guilty. It will take the victim’s eyes and let them become parts of
Ninmenju (人面樹, Human-faced Tree)
A man’s beloved girlfriend died. An evil wizard taught him to plant his girlfriend’s head. After 49 days,
a tree grew up. After a year, the tree grew lots of his dead girlfriend’s heads. The local government
was so afraid and sent policemen to burn down the tree. In the end, the man and the tree burned to
One day my brother and I found there was a shaddock tree in the mountains near our home, my
brother said we could make a human-faced tree by drawing on the shaddocks.
Tanuki (狸, Raccoon Dog)
in Japan, raccoon dog is thought of as a naughty creature with magic power. They can transform
into humans and give others money which are actually leaves. This one standing there must have
come up with some ideas!
In Japanese, it often means badger. It’s said that it likes to transform into a monk. He has to chant
scriptures 6 hours every day to keep staying in the form of human. But one day after lunch, he fell
asleep and forgot to chant, so his tail exposed. So cute!
It is a silk cloth that transforms into a raccoon dog. It is not happy because it is too beautiful. So at
night, it runs around on the field. Many families enjoy watching this ridiculous scene.
Sometimes when you wake up, you find your pillow is under your feet, not under your head. It's
strange, right? It’s Makuragaeshi playing a joke with you. It often appears as a little monk. However,
some also say that it will make people stay in their dreams forever and never wake up. In this way,
it’s not joking anymore.
Syuten-Douji (しゅてんどうじ，The Wine-swallowing Boy，酒吞童子)
The Nine-tailed Fox, Tengu and Syuten-Douji are the 3 most fierce and terrifying monsters in
Japanese legends. The Nine-tailed Fox often appears as concubines of kings. It is extremely
attractive, but it sucks a man’s energy of life. Tengu means “Heavenly Dogs”. They were once gods
but condemned to the mortal world. It has a long nose, and it usually curses the whole country, so
they probably symbolize “politicians” or ”corrupted officials”.
As you can see from the picture, Syuten-Douji is using other lower-leveled demon as pillow or
couch. Indeed, Syuten-Douji is called “leader of one hundred demons”.
One day, 6 generals decided to destroy Syuten-Douji. At first they met one of the demons called
Cimu-Douji (茨木童子, please see the next story). Then they met 3 old men who were actually gods.
They gave them an armor and some poisoned wine. At last they arrived at the luxurious palace.
They gave the wine to the demons who disguised as men, as a present of gratitude. When they fell
asleep, they killed them all. The 6 generals became famous hereafter.
Not sure if Syuten-Douji (Syu means “wine”) is named after his favorite thing or the thing that killed
him. But what’s important is that Syuten-Douji symbolizes the younger generation. Young people
represent the pillar of a country
“Rashomon”(1950) is a famous movie directed by Akira Kurosawa (黑澤明). I wanted to see the
movie very much because I read about the story before. I thought it was an action movie.
One general met a beautiful woman one day in the evening. He asked her, “Where are you going?
Maybe I can give you a ride.”
She said “I don’t live in this town. I live in the Atago Hill!” and became a demon. But the general
reacted quickly and cut its arm.
Later, the general was informed that the demon would come back in 7 days. Then, at the 6th day,
his mother came to visit him and told him she wanted to see the arm. The general couldn’t refuse
the request. However, as you know, as soon as she saw that arm, she grabbed it and disappeared.
So you can see that this story doesn’t really have an end, and Akira Kurosawa’s story is completely
What’s the same is the meaning of the word “Rashomon”. It is a gate between human world and
ghost/demon world. It also means that everyone has a different version of story about the same
thing. I think of a positive aspect: everyone can provide part of a solution to a problem. Actually, I
think every demon introduced must have its own positive side.
歌聲中的妖怪 The Singing Ghost
In ancient times, a Japanese singer was singing. To his surprise, a very tall ghost arose. It was dark,
and its hair all pointed upwards. It started to sing with the singer, the lyrics coming out of its mouth
became a mist.
百物語 The Game of One Hundred Stories
It is a popular game during the Edo period in Japan. Several friends get together and light many
candles. Everyone takes turns telling ghost stories. When a story is finished, people blow out one
candle. It is said when people blow out the 100th candle, real ghosts will appear.