Japanese Mythology & Folklore: Yokai - Chōchin obake

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Paper Lantern Ghost

提灯お化け
ちょうちんおばけ

TRANSLATION: paper lantern ghost

APPEARANCE: When a paper lantern, or a chōchin, reaches an advanced age, it sometimes becomes a chōchin obake. The paper splits along one of its wooden ribs, forming a gaping mouth with a wild, lolling tongue. One or two eyes pop out of the upper half of the lantern, and occasionally arms or legs may sprout from its body as well.

BEHAVIOR: Like the karakasa-kozō, it rarely causes physical harm, preferring simply to surprise and scare humans, laughing and rolling its large tongue and big eyes at guests in the home. Occasionally, power onryō have been known to disguise themselves as chōchin obake: a case of one of the most dangerous supernatural entities masquerading as one of the most comical and harmless.