Yōkai Poetry: Otoroshi

Otoroshi

The scene is simple /

Moonlight perched on a monster /

Perched on a torii //

Six claws press into the wood /

But never break it /

Six more hanging in the wind //

Shadowy hair hangs /

Over a comical smile /

Toothless and deadly //

 –

Clinging to its gums there burns /

Remnants of a soul /

Chewed out from a wicked man //

 –

It pounces on men /

With darkness burning within //

It cleans up nicely //

 –

Only the good receive /

An invisible smile //

otoroshi

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A common torii gate.

A common torii gate.

If there’s one thing Westerners tend to associate with Japan, it’s the Torii gate.  Found all over Japan, they’re commonly used to mark the entrance way of a Shinto shrine.  Even more, passing through the gate symbolically represents a transition from our world to that of the supernatural.

Otoroshi is a yokai that has been believed to sit on top of a torii gates (or a common rooftop).  Most of the time in art, it’s portrayed as a toothless, hairy beast.

He grooms nicely.

As you can see, it cleans up nicely.

Its name is believed to either come from either odoro-odoroshii (“eerie”), odoro-gami (denoting its hair), or osoroshii (“frightening”).  Most of the time, it just stays idly perched on the torii (sometimes with a bird caught in its claws).  But if someone with evil intentions tried to enter the shrine, Otoroshi would literally pounce the intruder and devour him.  This is why it’s always important that you look up before entering a shrine.  Otoroshi’s creepy smile may be the last thing you see.

Until next time, see ya!

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One Response to Yōkai Poetry: Otoroshi

  1. Jonathan says:

    this stuff is so interesting.

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