A-Yokai-A-Day: Otoroshi

Boo!

Did I scare you? I hope not, otherwise you will never make it through this week, where I will show you some yokai which are a tad bit spooker than last week’s (though not all of them are horrific).

Otoroshi

Today’s yokai is a bit of a mystery. There are no real records of this yokai, and its oldest roots seem to trace it back to an illustration by Toriyama Sekien, in which he drew a hairy beast, clinging to a bird, perched atop a torii — the gateways leading into Shinto shrines.

It goes by other names too — odoro-odoro and odoro-gami (which describes it desheveled, hairy appearance) — though its name seems most likely to have been derived from a Kansai-dialect word related to the “standard” Japanese word for “scary:”  osoroshii.

Despite its uncertain origin, otoroshi is a fairly popular yokai. Many famous yokai painters have done their own versions of otoroshi, but unlike ushi-oni, they all tend to stick to the same script: long hair, tusks, a funny smile. The mythology that has evolved around this guy seems to place him as a kind of shrine guardian. Anyone who is impious or evil who tries to enter the shrine will be pounced upon and devoured by the beast. So make sure you always look up before you enter a Japanese shrine!

Otoroshi
Otoroshi

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