A-Yokai-A-Day: Shirime

Today’s yokai is so wonderfully silly that it speaks for itself. There is no wonder it is counted among the most beloved yokai in Japan…

Shirime (尻目, しりめ)

Literally, “butt eye,” this yokai is practically self explanatory.

It first appeared in a picture scroll by Yosa no Buson, an Edo period poet. Most likely it was made up by him, as no other folklore exists. It’s one of those yokai that literally has two sentences to its name, and yet those two sentences seems to be enough:

京、かたびらが辻ぬっぽり坊主のばけもの。 めはなもなく、一ツの眼、尻の穴に有りて、 光ることいなづまのごとし。

“In Kyoto, at the Katabira crossroads, there is a monster called nuppori-bōzu. It has no eyes or nose, but a single eyeball, located in its butthole, which shines like lightning.”

There you have it folks, the making of a legend! The passage refers to it as the “nupperi-bōzu,” so this yokai is certainly a kind of noppera-bō, a kind of faceless yokai which is a popular form taken by mujina (shapeshifting badgers).

Mizuki Shigeru expanded upon the story a little bit in his yokai anthology Mujara, and has this to say:

Long ago, a samurai was traveling on the road to Kyoto, and a man in a kimono stepped out in front of him and blocked his path.

“Who goes there!” cried the samurai.

“Excuse me, sir, do you have a moment?” replied to man.

Before the samurai could reply, the man shed his kimono and bent over. His butt opened wide, revealing a huge, glowing eye which shone with a strange light.

The samurai screamed and fled…

You can’t make this stuff up, folks!


If you liked this yokai and want to see more, please become a backer of my Kickstarter projectThe Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits!

11 thoughts on “A-Yokai-A-Day: Shirime”

  1. Oh, Old Japan was far more interested in toilet humor than sexual humor. I’ve only read one or two stories dealing with breasts, but I can’t even count how many I have come across dealing with farts and butts…

  2. ….A ridiculous yokai indeed! I don’t like it much, though.
    Also, there’s another Tsukumogami that I need you to do desperately: The Hatahiro.
    Finally, I have one question: How many extra yokai will you put on The hour of meeting evil spirits depending of the amount obtained via Kickstarter?

  3. Hatahiro is a great yokai, and he is on my to-do list, but unfortunately he won’t make it into this year’s A-Yokai-A-Day.

    The number of extra yokai depends on the final amount. Right now there is one stretch goal to add 5 more yokai, but I am planning to add two more, for a total of 15 extra yokai. It all depends on the response from backers though.

  4. I’m sure its innate in all of us. Even little kids know deep down inside that poop is funny, and the Japanese of yesteryear seem to have tapped into that. Just look up the edo period scroll paintings of “he-gassen,” or “fart battles.”

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