Futakuchi Onna – Yuko Shimzu

Bad hair days are one of the banes of my life. Cursed with not quite curly not quite straight hair I live in a constant struggle of trying to either tame it in to a state of straightness, or avoid looking like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards. While this may be my morning demon is it nothing compared to the Yokai’s of Japan.

Yokai are a class of monster, spirit and demon in Japanese folklore, and Shimzu has captured the essence of the Futakuchi Onna in this stunning modern rendition of traditional Japanese art work.

You may know the name Shimzu, if you don’t know her name, you will definitely know the iconic cat that she created…Hello Kitty. This art work, is a world apart from the kawaii cuteness of her most well known creation. The style and colours of this picture honouring the more traditional wood block workings, but throwing a modern twist with the mouth in the back of the head being almost pop art in their lush redness and the extended tongue.

So, I hear you asking me, what is the deal with a Futakuchi Onna? The term means two mouthed woman. There are several stories about this particular female based curse. Some say that they come from children that were starved or mistreated by step parents, their repression forming the demon of the second mouth, some say it is just from female repression that the mouth forms. The best story by far, which explains the mouth and its ferocity.

In a small village, lived an elderly miser who had never married as he didn’t want the expense of feeding a wife. One day he met a woman who didn’t eat anything. On seeing this, he instantly proposed and they married quickly. This was great for him, she was a hard worker and cost him nothing in upkeep.

The miser did how ever notice that his rice stores were depleting rapidly, which he couldn’t understand co side ring he was the only one in the house eating.

One day he decided to spy on his wife, thinking that it was her eating the food while he was out at work. He pretended to leave for the day, but really hid so that he could spy on his new wife.

When she thought he had left, she unravelled her long black hair from its bindings, and the hair took on a life of its own, parting horizontally to reveal a wide gaping mouth. The hair acting like tentacles, shovelling rice in to the ravenous mouth in the back of her head.

Stories of this demon say that it has an insatiable hunger, and the mouth can only be hidden for a certain amount of time, before the hair will break its bonds. The mouth is also known to sweat and spill bile comments, with no etiquette.

The women affected are usually beautiful, so that they can work their way in to households to feed the hunger.

It makes dandruff look like a dream.

Why do you think of this picture? Why not tell me in the comments?


2 thoughts on “Futakuchi Onna – Yuko Shimzu

Add yours

  1. This is great, Japanese art meets Rolling Stones. I really like the folklore story behind it, reminds me of Medusa from the Greek mythology. The hair taking a life of its own, the protruding tongue, the symbolism of the oppressed woman, transformed into a monster after being raped and blamed for it. I think I prefer the Japanese take on it though, it’s more subtle and focuses on our hidden monsters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you have a look back though some of my stuff I do quite a lot on Greek myth as it’s one of my favs along with Japanese culture. This piece is certainly exciting in the visuals and the background behind it. All cultures have similar base stories, it’s just the subtleties of the details that change. It’s fascinating 😊


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