Karakasa-kozo (A Japanese popular monster) (からかさ小僧)

Karakasa-kozo (It is also inscribed in different manners such as in all hiragana, one of the Japanese phonetic characters, or in all kanji, Chinese characters) is a yokai (supernatural beings) into which an old umbrella changed. It is also called karakasa-obake, kasa-obake, and kasa-bake, all of which mean a Japanese popular monster.


It is a rather famous yokai partly due to the influence from the popular yokai manga series 'Gegege no Kitaro' by Shigeru MIZUKI. It is generally expressed as a closed umbrella with its handle downside. As an umbrella has a single shaft, this yokai moves by hopping on one leg. It sometimes wears geta (Japanese footwear, wooden clogs). Its face is in the umbrella cloth and has a single eye.

Characteristically, this yokai is not harmful in general. It hops around houses after dark and sticks its tongue out when it comes across a person. This behavior is enough for bothering people. However, as this yokai does not do any other direct harm to anyone around, the degree of risk is low among supernatural beings. By the way, it often acts stupid and smiles with its tongue stuck out. Other supernatural beings that resemble in characters and behavior include one-eyed goblin (one-eyed monster).

Although karakasa-kozo is said to do no harm in general, the yokai called yurei-gasa (an umbrella monster) that appears in Mizoguchi-cho, Tottori Prefecture (present Hoki-cho, Saihaku County) seems to be an exception. In appearance, it has a single eye and a single leg, similar to karakasa-kozo; however, it is said to let people soar up into the sky on a strong windy day.

Kenji MURAKAMI, a tourist of a specter, reports that there has been no records of the presence for real of yurei-gasa despite the familiarity of this yokai, and he classifies it as the one that exists only in pictures.

There is a thought that tools and equipments used in personal daily lives may possibly acquire the capacity to change as they become old during a long period of time. This is called Tsukumo-gami (gods of a variety of things) and yurei-gasa is one of the examples of this.

The karakasa-kozo, shown in the picture, has a typical figure of the yokai that appeared in the film called 'the 100 Ghost Stories.'
Shinkichi, the son of a feeble-minded, corrupt merchant drew a picture of the karakasa-kozo on the wall of his room; the karakasa-kozo then came to life, laughing as he danced out of the wall. A scene in which the karakasa-kozo plays with Shinkichi by licking Shinkichi's face with its long tongue is the only humorous scene in this film.

[Original Japanese]