Meet the Yokai
Akaname (aka filth lickers)
Akaname are small grimy goblins that dwell in public baths and dirty homes. They have greasy grubby skin and disheveled hair. They use their long tongues to lick up dirt, grime, mold, scum, hair and other filth.
Although akaname pose no direct threat to humans, they can spread disease. So homes, especially bathrooms, should be kept clean so that filth lickers will not move in.
It is believed by some that if a human lets evil thoughts and desires build up in their mind, then they will be transformed into a filth licking akaname.
Amanojaku are cruel and mischievous yokai that spread spiritual corruption by inciting human wickedness and evil desires. They are very dangerous yokai. Similar to western demons, they are often depicted as symbols of pure evil, sin, and impurity.
Amanojaku resemble small red-skinned oni with one or more horns and sharp teeth.
Did you know? Uriko hime, the Melon Princess, is a well known Japanese folktale about the dangers of amanojaku.
Adventures with Yokai: The Midnight Meeting
There was once a blacksmith who lived, much like many others, a simple and honest life. He would rise just before sunrise to work his trade. Stoking the furnace, pumping the bellows, and swinging his heavy sledge. Shaping and tempering to the ring of his hammer until well into the night. Just him and the flame of his furnace.
He was content with heat and hammer. Transforming coal and iron into blades or axes or ladles. Sharpening spent tools and crafting new ones. People depended on his services and he desired nothing more.
During the day, patrons would loiter outside his shop to chatter idly. Mostly, he paid no mind to the gossip. The stonecutter’s wife was with child again, the bath owner lost all his coin to drink, the potter’s son was caught cheating, the fields were or were not producing well, how it would be difficult to reach the tax burden this year, and so on.
But, one day, a bit of talk about the bath owner’s daughter caught his ear. According to the potter’s son, if one paid the right price, the young woman would prepare a steaming hot wash basin after hours.
The blacksmith tried to ignore the rumor as just that, but each day he found himself taking up his hammer and stoking his fires with thoughts of a nice warm soak. He began to notice the way a lone lantern at the bathhouse burned late into the night. The faint smell of soap and bath oils in the air. How the agreeable young woman would smile and dip her head when he passed by each night. She waited for him, night after night, her lantern burning, beckoning him to come inside.
One night, soaked in sweat and covered in the dust of his labor, he decided to give in to his desire.
The young woman greeted him with her slight bow and silent smile, gesturing him inside.
The darkness held the familiar scent of soap and oils. But tonight there was also an intoxicating perfume in the air.
She followed him inside, her lantern the only light in the empty bathhouse.
Hot steam rose from an overfilled bath. A large bottle of sake sat on the edge of the wooden soaking tub.
He eagerly turned to hand her his coin, but she was gone. Her lantern sat abandoned on the base of an overturned wash bucket.
He hastily undressed. Not bothering to wash properly, he dumped a bucket of steaming water over his head and lowered himself into the soaking tub. Water sloshed over the sides. His tired muscles hummed and melted into the heat.
He lifted the sake and drank deeply. Tonight, he thought, would be no ordinary night….
* * *
He dreamed of grubby creatures slurping the bathwater and running their long slimy tongues over the wooden tubs.
Something wet licked across his cheek, rousing him.
He groaned. His head pounded as if his hammer were still striking metal.
How long had he been out?
Thin beams of moonlight filtered in through the wooden slats of the structure. The lantern was either out or gone. He could not tell in the dim light.
The scent of perfume was also gone. In its place was an odor of stale water and mildew. And, something else, something sweet and metallic.
He shifted in the cold water. A bucket toppled and rolled across the floor. He squinted into the darkness and thought he saw something duck behind one of the tubs.
He rubbed his eyes. Apparently the alcohol had been stouter than he had anticipated.
He reached for the edge of the tub and felt something in his hand. It was smooth and snagged on his rough calloused hands. A garment. The one the young woman had been wearing.
He began to rise from the tub. A warm hand clasped his shoulder. Warm and slick and nailed. Long sharp nails that slowly tightened their grip, biting into his shoulder.
He turned slowly….
An an amanojaku smirked at him, the blood slicked skin of the young woman’s face hanging loosely below it’s toothy grin.
The blacksmith tumbled from the bath, water sloshing over the sides. He slipped, screaming as the claws raked down his back. He scrambled for the door, launching himself, naked and screaming, into the night.
He did not stop running, or screaming, until he reached the nearest temple.
The scars on his back took years to heal. During that time, he never went for a midnight soak again.
✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ La Fin ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿
Thanks for reading! (^_^)
Jason and Antonietta