Monster Month: Kasa-Obake


I’ve seen this show up in so many anime that I had to put it on the blog.  Doesn’t matter that there isn’t a lot of info out there.

The kasa-obake/karakasa-obake/kasa-bake/karakasa kozo . . . It has a lot of names, but it’s always an umbrella creature.  Starting to appear during Japan’s Edo period, this is a ghost or yokai, which is a supernatural entity.  Not necessarily a demon from what I can tell, but yokai tend to be used as such in modern fiction.  Anyway, the kasa-obake is some version of what you see above.  They typically have a long tongue, one leg, and are in the form of an umbrella.  Of course, there are some variations:

  • Some have one eye and others have two.
  • Some have two arms.
  • Rarely, they’re depicted with two legs, but the one-leg is the common version.

So, what does a kasa-obake do?  Well, one story talks about them simply sneaking up on people and giving them an oily lick.  They don’t do more than that, so they’re more mischievous than dangerous.  In fact, nobody is really sure how the kasa-obake came about because it’s not connected to folktales.  As I said, it began showing up in small tales and art after the Edo period.  Some even think that they’re basically a creation after the war in an attempt to design newer yokai.  It means there’s a lot of mystery and limited information about its specific origins.

Yet, there is a legend that could explain the logic behind the kasa-obake.  It’s believed that after 100 years, an everyday object can become an apparition.  These are called tsukumogami, which might be the inspiration for this yokai.  It isn’t a possible origin, but there are similarities.  This can also be a lesson on why one should not discard old objects that may still have a use or some sentimental value.

Speaking of similarities, there are other umbrella creatures:

  • One is of a rain-umbrella that appears in valleys during a storm.  Anyone who sees it would be paralyzed on the spot.
  • Another is the yureigasa, which is a one-legged, one-eyed umbrella yokai.  This one blows people into the sky on windy days.

That’s really it.  The kasa-obake shows up in a lot of anime, manga, and video games due to its appearance.  Much of the information I found was from that instead of older lore like I previously stated.  So, there’s still some mystery behind this yokai.  That or there isn’t much beyond someone thought a creepy umbrella didn’t need more of an explanation.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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16 Responses to Monster Month: Kasa-Obake

  1. L. Marie says:

    I’m sure I’ve probably seen this creature. Still, these posts are interesting, because Ieither forget about them or I’m not sure what I’ve seen. When I saw Spirited Away for the first time, I asked a friend who had lived in Japan to explain some images and actions, because most of the time the images were not explained.


  2. Have to wonder who originally thought an umbrella would make a good monster. Maybe when the wind reversed it in a heavy downpour the monster was born. Thanks for this interesting information,


  3. noelleg44 says:

    What a silly monster – especially one that gives you an oily lick!


  4. What an interesting creature!


  5. V.M.Sang says:

    A new one on me, Charles.


  6. I did a bunch of research into the old items that develop a spirit. That led to the black spot I created for the Lanternfish series. It was kind of scary.


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