Sketchbook Page 50: N is for Nurarihyon

October 13, 2013 § Leave a comment


Nurarihyon skull

Bones from a Bestiary part 14: N is for Nurarihyon 

This is the fourteenth in a series of chimerical creatures; the aim is to create an alphabet of fabulous beasts over the coming months.

With recent advances in genetic engineering it should be possible to manufacture such creatures in the laboratory; although the results will not always be practical (or, indeed, humane) …

Nurarihyon (ぬらりひょん?), or Nūrihyon (ぬうりひょん?), is a Japanese yōkai (a supernatural creature in folklore) said to originate from Wakayama Prefecture. It is also sometimes believed to be descended from the Umibōzu of Okayama Prefecture.

The Nurarihyon is usually depicted as an old man with a gourd-shaped head and wearing a kesa (a buddhist robe stitched together to form three rectangular pieces of cloth). He is sometimes said to be leader of the yōkai.


Nurarihyon by Sawaki Sūshi (佐脇嵩之, Japanese, *1707, †1772)

The Nurarihyon will sneak into someone’s house while they are away, drink their tea, and act as if it is their own house. Because it looks human, anyone who sees him will mistake him for the owner of the house, making it very hard to expel him.

Nurarihyon is called the leader of the Hyakki Yakō.


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