Jorōgumo


Jorōgumo

"Jorōgumo" (Japanese Kanji: _ja. 絡新婦, Hiragana: _ja. じょろうぐも) is a kind of "Yōkai", an imaginary creature of Japanese folklore. According to stories, a "Jorōgumo" is a spider, which can change its appearance into a seductive woman.

In Japanese Kanji, "Jorōgumo" is written as " _ja. 絡新婦" (literally meaning: binding lady) or " _ja. 女郎蜘蛛" (literally meaning: whore spider). "Jorōgumo" also means some kinds of real existing spiders. In casual use, it means both Nephila clavata and Orb-weaver spiders, while in the field of science, "Jorōgumo" is always written in katakana (as _ja. ジョロウグモ) and only refers a particular species, Nephila clavata.

Stories

In the Edo period, a beautiful woman invited a man into a quiet shack and played "Biwa". While the man was attracted with the sound of "Biwa" and feeling relaxed, her spider threads bind him and he was eaten by her.

According to stories, a spider gains magical power when she becomes 400 years old. Her appearance is said to be very beautiful which can attract everyone who saw her. Stories of "Jorōgumo" can be seen on books such as "Taihei-Hyakumonogatari" ( _ja. 太平百物語) and "Tonoigusa" ( _ja. 宿直草) among others written in Edo period. On these stories, "Jorōgumo" shift its appearance into a beautiful woman and ask a samurai to marry her, or becomes looking like a woman with a baby村上健司 『妖怪事典』 毎日新聞社、2000年、190-191頁。] .

On Toriyama Sekien's"Gazu Hyakki Yakō", "Jorōgumo" is drawn as a half-woman spider with children spiders which use fire.

At Jōren waterfall ( _ja. 浄蓮の滝), Izu, Shizuoka, there is a story of "Jorōgumo" as the master of the waterfall. A man was resting in front of the plungpool of the waterfall, vast numbers of spider threads came to tie up his feet. He put those threads and bound to a stump of a tree, it was pulled from the ground and drawn into the plungpool. He realised that a spider was trying to pull him into the plungpool.

After that, villagers were afraid of the spider and no one went to the waterfall. However, one day, a logger from different place did not know about the story and was cutting woods around there. Then his ax was fallen into the plungpool by mistake, so he dived into the pool to find the ax. While he was looking for it, a beautiful woman appeared and returned his ax, telling him that never tell anyone about her. The logger kept the promis since the day but feeling anxious about the incident. A day, while he was drunken, he told everything about the event, and felt comfortable, fell into sleep happily, but never wake up again人文社編集部 『ものしりシリーズ 諸国怪談奇談集成 江戸諸国百物語 東日本編』 人文社、2005年、59頁。] .

There are many stories of a logger having a stump instead of himself to be pulled into the plungpool in many different places in Japan. One of them was in Kashikobuchi ( _ja. 賢淵), Sendai. Here, just after a stump was pulled into the plungpool, the logger heard a voice, saying that "how clever, how clever" ( _ja. 賢い、賢い / "Kashikoi, Kashikoi"). The place name Kashikobuchi was told to be named after this event [http://tabidoki.jrnets.co.jp/e07/spot/17326.html 賢淵] ( [http://tabidoki.jrnets.co.jp/localline/riku-to/ JR東日本 えきねっと] 内)] . In Kashikobuchi, the "Jorōgumo" have been worshipped as a goddess of avoiding drowning. A monument and a small Torii are stood there.

The story of a logger in Jōren waterfall, has anover variant story of sad love. According to that, the logger fell in love with the woman. He started to visit there everyday to meet her, but he was becoming weaker day by day. A monk from a neighbouring temple thought that the logger was trapped by the spider. The monk and the logger went to the waterfall together, and the monk read Buddhist Sūtra there. Spider threads come from the plungpool and tried to catch the logger, but when the monk shouted a word, they dissappeared. Even though after the logger realised that the woman was a spider, he cannot forget of his love and asked a "Tengu", the master of "Yōkai"s of the mountain. The "Tengu" did not permit his love. The logger, who was yet cannot give it up, ran to the waterfall. Then he was tied up by the threads from the plungpool, and fell into it and never came again [宮本幸枝 『大人が楽しむ地図帳 津々浦々「お化け」生息マップ - 雪女は東京出身? 九州の河童はちょいワル? -』 技術評論社、2005年、80頁。] .

References

Further Readings

* [http://www.obakemono.com/obake/jorogumo/ Jorōgumo ~ 女郎蜘蛛 (じょろうぐも) ~ part of The Obakemono Project: An Online Encylopedia of Yōkai and Bakemono]

See Also

*Nephila_clavata(Jorōgumo)
*List of legendary creatures from Japan
*Tsuchigumo


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