Today’s lovely mythological woman of Japan is the ever creepy Futakuchi-Onna (quite a mouthful, huh?).
What is this legendary monster exactly? Well, she’s basically a woman with a mouth on the back of her head.
Yes, you read that right–a mouth on the back of her head.
From first glance, the Futakuchi-Onna looks like a normal woman. She’s often pretty and nothing is really out of the ordinary…until her hair parts and a second mouth appears.
Not only does she have a mouth on the back of her head, but the mouth tends to have a personality all its own. In some tellings of the legend, the mouth will harass the woman and threaten her until its fed. It has quite a voracious appetite as well, consuming at least twice as much as the woman and her normal mouth.
If the afflicted woman doesn’t feed the supernatural mouth, it screeches and screams causing her a great deal of pain. Over time, the mouth pretty much gains control over the back of her head, controlling the woman’s own hair as a pair of arms or tentacles, allowing it to feed itself.
The origins of the mysterious mouth generally are linked to how much (or rather how little) a woman eats. The general legend surrounding this states that the woman is normally the wife of an old miser and rarely is able to eat. The mouth somehow appears on the back of her head, probably to counteract the fact that she’s not eating. Though she herself may continue to not eat, the mouth will somehow find food to feed itself.
Another story has the woman being accidentally struck in the head by her husband’s ax (how one can be accidentally struck by an ax is another story in itself…) and somehow the wound transforms into a mouth. Still another story is the typical “wicked stepmother” stereotype, with the woman allowing her stepchild to starve to death while keeping her own children well fed. The mouth appears on the back of her head as a form of punishment, and is often thought that it’s the stepchild’s spirit returning to exact revenge on his stepmother.
The futakuchi-onna is a popular myth in Japan, often appearing in many manga and anime series in some form or another. I think it’s one of the creepier legends to come from their mythology.
Let this be a lesson then–don’t starve yourself or else a second mouth might appear on the back of your head. Also, stay away from husbands/significant others who are chopping wood 😛
Comments on: "Hags & Beauties: Futakuchi-Onna" (6)
Wonder if the ancient Greeks had some contact with Japan and they swaped myths?
Would be interesting. I don’t think they did though; Japanese culture was much different thousands of years ago. Still not much is known about that time, so who knows. 🙂
…Creepy. But interesting! What are some of the manga/anime series that this appears in?
Lots. Ones I haven’t heard of. They list them all on the Wiki page.
Iya! This smacks of Neil Gaimanesque qualities. Ever considered doing a Japanese short story with one of your creatures?
YES! In fact I have an idea for a funny, yet creepy one with a few of the “off-the-wall” mythical creatures. I’ll be posting about those in the next few weeks, but let’s just say it would have haunted household items 😛