International Halloween Haunts

Juan Gonzalez

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Around the world, multiple books have documented different myths about relatively unknown monsters. This Halloween season, as one gets ready to share scary stories around the campfire, here are some weird and sometimes funny stories about some ghouls, goblins and spirits unfamiliar to many. A work entitled “Yaokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide” documents strange creatures and basic information about them. One of those aforementioned creatures, or yokai,  the Neko-Mata or “The Forked Cat,” is a creature said to be four times bigger than an average cat and plays into the western culture’s myth about cats being able to take the breath of babies away. However, instead of taking lives, the Neko-Mata is believed to possess the ability to give dead bodies their life back. Among their somewhat scary mystical powers is the cat’s ability to devour an individual just because it feels it has been wronged.

Another monster from Japan is the Onibaba, or the Demon Hag, that was once a working mother who had the honor of working for a wealthy family. The employers of the mother had given birth to a child who, at the age of five, had never uttered a sound or even a cry, and so they set out to find some of the finest doctors, but to no avail. Finally, they found a well-known fortune teller who knew the cure. If the family wanted their child to speak they were to feed their child the liver of a fetus. Having worked with the family for years, the parents placed their nanny in charge of finding the unsuspecting victim that would cure their child. The nanny, having a young girl about the same age as her employer’s child left her daughter adorned with an amulet which was said to have brought good luck. Many years after the woman had first set out onto her journey to find the fetus liver,she came across a pregnant traveler. After welcoming the woman into the cave that she called home, she attacked her and killed her unborn child to retrieve its liver.  Wrapped around the young woman’s neck was the exact amulet she had left her daughter with years before. Driven mad by the realization that she murdered her daughter and her unborn grandchild ,she now stalks areas looking for human flesh  and scrapes off the bones of her victims with the same knife that she killed her daughter with.

Another strange monster from the area of Japan is the Nure Onna or the Dragon Lady. This yokai is very similar to the Greek mythological figure Medusa, except the effects of its ability to turn people into stone is psychological. Unlike Medusa, it also has the ability to consume its victims, luring them into the water by stretching its neck out so that fishermen see a person in distress. Folklore believes that this woman, although as big and long as an anaconda, can wear itself so thin that it can hide in even the shallowest of lakes and streams, so next time someone is near a body of water, be careful or the Nure Onna may just trick you into walking into her fang-filled mouth.

Some monsters around the world can be lethal only to animals but others can be just as deadly to humans. Some “monsters,” as some might call them from around the world, such as El Chupacabra, or the spotted bat-wolf hybrid, of many Latin American countries devours livestock and is easily comparable to Big Foot. Another Latin American “monster” is La Llorona, once believed to be a mother who went mad and drowned her two children in the river and disposed of their bodies by cutting them up into tiny pieces and burying them. Legend tells that people can hear her lamenting for her children wherever there is water. Even if the water is in a cup on someone’s windowsill, she is said to search all bodies of water looking to find her children. There are many more stories which can be told such as the terrifying story of the Clap-Cans which comes from Lancaster, England or the sweet story of the Clay Mother, or  the Clim, an imp who yells at naughty children. So this Halloween season spend the days not only being careful of where you  walk,  but also looking for some more strange stories to tell others.