11

Details: I am positive it does appear in Japanese folklore, it is some type of spider demon that feeds on human beings, and it could either be a centaur type creature with a woman's torso or straight up take on the entire appearance of a woman to seduce victims.

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    Mythology questions need to be based on clear texts to be on topic. See Meta. – curiousdannii Mar 23 '15 at 2:58
  • do you mean "clear text " in the question or the question details? – Kings Adviser Mar 23 '15 at 4:25
  • I meant it should be about a specific Japanese story. – curiousdannii Mar 23 '15 at 4:36
  • @curiousdannii what if you can't remember the story? There has to be some space for ambiguity. – Daft Mar 23 '15 at 14:37
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    @Daft Well in that case I guess it would be appropriate to ask a story identification question first. I'm just trying to point out that this site is based on works of sci-fi/fantasy. Asking about culture's mythology without any reference to any works is not on-topic, whether that mythology is Greek, Norse or Japanese. – curiousdannii Mar 23 '15 at 14:43
17

This sounds like Jorōgumo

This yokai is typically depicted as being a seductive female who lures men close before revealing its spider-like body and eating its victim.

As Mythical Creatures List explains,

The Jorogumo is a mythical creature from Japanese folklore whose name translates as ‘prostitute spider’. The name is now used to denote particular species of spider known as the Nephila clavata.

The legend of the Jorogumo comes from the Erdo period and era ruled by shoguns that lasted from 1603 to 1868. When a spider lives for 400 years it gains the ability to grow to the size of a cow and can shape-shift into an attractive young lady. One typical trick it would play to catch a meal would be to transform into an empty inn, house or shrine. Part of it would become an attractive young lady playing on a Biwa and singing beautifully to attract its victim. Some would lure the person in to eat cake and drink sake. She would then get close to her victim and cover his feet in deadly silk from which there was no escape. She like most spiders would then devour him at her own leisure. Jorogumos are said to reside near waterfalls and lakes.

It features in a number of myths and stories. For example,

In one story a lumberjack stumble upon an attractive lady by a woman at a waterfall. There is an instant connection and the logger visits her everyday. However he starts to grow weaker and weaker as his energies are drained by the Jorogumo. A Buddhist monk suspects that the lumberjack has been ensnared by a seductive Jorogumo. He then advises that they should both travel together to the waterfall. They do and the Buddhist monk starts to read from the Sutra scriptures. As he does so, spider threads start to appear in an attempt to grab and suck the logger into the waterfall. However the Buddhists monk’s chanting causes the webs to disappear. The lumberjack is saved but his fascination with the woman is too strong. He later consults a Tengu, a high status Yokai creature and asks if he can continue his relationship with the Jorogumo. The Tengu refuses and so the depressed lumberjack goes back to the waterfall and unable to live without his love he jumps in the lake never to be seen again.

spider monster yokai

maybe less creepy image

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    delightful picture! – JMP Mar 22 '15 at 4:53
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    This image doesn't appear to be in (modern) Japanese. It cannot be interpreted as any form of kana, nor does it make sense if interpreted as kanji, neither in Japanese nor Chinese. – March Ho Mar 22 '15 at 8:40
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    The image appears to be a modern Western interpretation of the Jorogumo. It appears more likely than not the characters are gibberish. – March Ho Mar 22 '15 at 8:49
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    @MarchHo Come on, people. Look closely. Whoever wrote this simply substituted letters of the English alphabet with somewhat similarly shaped characters (e.g., "o" to "因"). The right-hand side says "Jorogumo". The left-hand side... well, just read it yourself. :) – Will Mar 22 '15 at 13:50
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    @MarchHo "Jorogumo could really use some cool spider web texture on the background!" – Will Mar 22 '15 at 14:05
4

Another option, aside from the Jorogumo, is that you are thinking of of Tsuchigumo, a clan of demons which had the face of an oni, the body of a tiger, and the arms and legs of a spider: enter image description here

  • Their legs look more like a cricket's to me though, and the animals portrayed clearly show six legs. For some reason the Wikipedia article describes them as being eight-legged. – March Ho Mar 22 '15 at 8:44
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    @MarchHo Look again. Four over the body, one across (over the head) and three under the body. Eight legs. – Zano Mar 22 '15 at 14:53

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