Dark and Curious Things
The japanese youkai Nuppeppo


In the hushed stillness of the night, a lone wanderer stumbles upon an eerie scene. A peculiar aroma hangs in the air as the moonlight reveals a Nuppeppo, a mysterious youkai resembling a lump of decaying flesh. The traveler, captivated by morbid curiosity, cautiously approaches. Suddenly, the Nuppeppo stirs to life, its form quivering as if animated by unseen forces. Terrified, the wanderer stumbles backward, overcome by a sense of dread. Gripped by fear and unable to comprehend the unearthly nature of the youkai, turns on their heels and flees into the enveloping darkness, leaving the mysterious Nuppeppo behind, its enigmatic aura lingering in the stillness of the night.

The japanese youkai Nuppeppo

What is a Nuppeppo?

Its name comes from the japanese word “nupperi“, a derogatory term for women who applies too much makeup on their faces, referencing the similarity to the sagging of a face under heavy makeup.

These humanoid creatures roam abandoned temples, graveyards and sometimes even empty streets. They are roughly the size of a child with undeveloped lumpy hands and feet. A blob of flesh and sagging skin with only a hint of a face. Their origin are unknown, but some suggest they are made from human flesh for an unknown purpose. Other suggest that they are failed transformations of inexperienced shape-shifting yokai.

Harmless But Deadly

The nuppeppo is a passive and almost entirely harmless creature, but it expels an odor similar to that of rotting meat which would make even the strongest men buckle. It is often a solitary creature, but some sightings describe them wandering in groups.

They often appear only at night, but are not known to cause any harm or mischief aside from seemingly enjoying the nauseating effects their odor has on passersby. They are quick enough to outrun any angry villagers that have had enough of them.

Potent, Elusive

According to the records of some Edo period pharmacists, there is great power to be had if you can eat its flesh, even immortality, and it can also be made into powerful medicine. Despite this, there are only a few recorded sightings and none was able to catch it. The accounts often speak of lords chasing one out of their castle or a temple using a host of warriors only to have it escape.

Real World References

Illustrations of the nuppeppo can be found in the picture scroll from 1737 called “Hyakkai-Zukkan“, by the artist Sawaki Suushi. It can also be found in the handscroll “Bakemono no e” as well as the 1776 publication “Gazu Hyakki Yagou“.

Maki Bokusen, an 18th century scribe, kept records about an incident in 1609 where something matching a Nuppeppo was sighted in the shogun Tokugawa’s gardens. The shogun was so repulsed by the creature he sent it away only to learn later about the effect of eating its flesh.