The Japanese Do It Right: Gashodokuro & Hagoromo Gitsune
TODAY’S BREW: Booze. We have been writing queries.
I found one of the scariest creatures in mythology I could find…Gashodokuro.
In Japanese mythology, Gashodokuro is a 15 foot tall skeleton with unconnected eyes rolling around in his sockets. He is generally wriggling around like a snake, this giant skeleton, making him a real nightmare. He was created by gathering the bones of people who have died of starvation. This dude will literally bite your head off, and the only way you will know he is coming is that your ears will ring. This guy is Iron Maiden’s Eddie on steroids, and you will never know he’s behind you.
The giant, terrifying skeleton is steeped in rich legend,and the more I researched, the more fascinating I found it. Gashodokuro is a creature of the Yokai species, male, and a Virgo, ladies! (Seriously, his birthday is September 3rd.) Trapped beneath a seal in a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, he was guarded by Hisa Keikain, a female onmyoji, a human who battles the Yokai with spiritual power. Legend has it, that when he is freed, he gathers together the army of “the demon fox,” the head of the Kyoto Yokai. Gashodokuro is the primary guard of this fearsome Master of Spirits, named Hagoromo Gitsune.
Hagoromo Gitsune, the leader of the Kyoto Yokai, first appeared in Japanese history in turbulent times, possessed by the body of a child. She gathers power by absorbing hatred, envy, anger, despair and malice, and grows stronger with increasing malice in the world. She only has a human lifetime, but can extend it to 1000 years by hiding when her host dies until she can take control of another. Currently she takes the form of Yamabuki Otome, a woman with long, black hair, pale white skin and deathly black eyes. She is always dressed like a Japanese schoolgirl. Cool.
Hagoromo is a total narcissist, with a talent for intimidation of her opponents. She finds humans to be impure and inferior, and works at creating a world of darkness. The only love she feels is for her henchman, though nobody is as important as her son. Hagoromo is described as a fiercely devoted mother. Her only care in the world is to reunite with him, to take human form that will allow her to give birth to him again. It is so critical, that the entire reason the Kyoto Yokai exists is to reunite them again.
When the reunion finally occurs, (a grisly thing indeed), the Yokai follow them both back to Hell where they belong. Gashodokuro is one of the few who stays behind on Earth, preying upon people as he awaits the return of his Queen.
(Am I sick for finding this story kind of beautiful? Overjoyed to have found such a legend, I became even more excited that my second novel, the seuqel to Running Home, is set in Japan. My mind is bursting at the seams with plans for Hagoromo.)
The Japanese know how to make a scary thing beautiful like no other people on the planet. Congratulations, Japan!