A-Yokai-A-Day: The Katawaguruma of Higashinotōin, Kyōto

Tonight’s story is about a katawaguruma, although the original illustration found in Shokoku hyakumonogatari more closely resembles a wanyūdō. It just goes to show that the names and definitions of yōkai are not set in stone, and vary from place to place and time to time.

The Katawaguruma of Higashinotōin, Kyōto

Long ago, there was a monster called a katawaguruma who, every night, would travel up and down Higashitōin Street in Kyōto. People were so afraid of it that they stayed inside after nightfall.

A certain person’s wife decided that she wanted to see this monster. One night, she peeked through her lattice window. Sure enough, just past midnight, she heard the sound of a single wagon wheel rolling through the streets. With no ox pulling it, and no people around, the wheel rolled towards her. Looking closer, she saw that hanging from the wheel was the severed leg and crotch of a human being.

The woman was shocked and afraid. Then the wheel spoke to her in a human voice: “Oi, woman over there! Instead of looking at me, you better go inside and look after your own kid!”

The woman was horrified. She ran inside and found her three-year-old child torn in half from shoulder to crotch, with the other half nowhere to be seen. She screamed and cried, but the child did not respond. The leg and crotch hanging from the wheel was that of her child.

This happened to her because she wanted so badly to see something monstrous.

A man's head forming the center of a wagon wheel. He is holding the severed leg of a child in his mouth.

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