Skeleton woman (骨女)

Skeleton woman is a specter described in "Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki" (Continued Illustrations of the Many Demons Past and Present), a collection of specters illustrations, by Sekien TORIYAMA. As described with its name, it is a specter of skeleton figured female.

According to an explanation in Sekien's "Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki", there was a story called 'Otogi bauko' that a skeleton of old female carries a chochin (Japanese paper lantern) with peony design and make a trip to a man's home, whom she loved before her death, and sleeps with the man. This is a Kaidan (Ghost Stories) called "Peony Lantern" that is included in "Otogi Boko" (Hand Puppets) by Ryoi ASAI and the story describes female ghost, Iyako. According to "Otogi Boko", a man called Shinnojo HAGIWARA met a beautiful woman, Iyako, in Gojo Kyogoku, Kyoto (current Kyoto Prefecture) and had an affair every night but one night, when neighboring old folk peeked into the house, he saw a strange sight that Shinnojo and skeleton embracing each other.

According to a legend in Akita Prefecture, a man was struck by a blinding snowstorm in the middle of the night. When he was about to meet a disaster, a female appears in front of the man and guided him back to his home. Arriving home, he looked to the female to thank her, but the face was a skeleton.

Norio YAMADA's "Tohoku Kaidan no Tabi" (Trip to the scary stories in Tohoku Region) also describes a skeleton woman in Kaidan (Ghost Stories) of Aomori Prefecture. In Ansei era, there was a female and those around her told her how ugly she was, but after death, she came out and walked around town in skeleton form as she had good skeletal figure. It is said that she liked fish bone and would collapse if she encounters a high priest.

[Original Japanese]