Tsurube oroshi


Woodcut on japanese paper. 52x43 cm. Emboss sealed. Yo kai kanjis written and signed by the author.



Translation: dropping like a well bucket
Habitat: heavily wooded areas; particularly coniferous trees
Diet: carnivorous; large ones prefer humans, crushed or mashed

Appearance: Tsurube otoshi are a gigantic disembodied heads of either a human, a tengu, or an oni. Sometimes they appear wreathed in flames like large fireballs with facial features. Spending most of their lives high in the trees (preferring pine, kaya, and other conifers for their height), they live deep along paths in the forest, or just outside of town where travelers are likely to pass. Tsurube otoshi range in size from an ordinary human head to up to two meters in diameter.

Behavior: Tsurube otoshi lurk in the treetops late at night and wait for unsuspecting creatures to pass underneath. When they need to feed, they drop quickly to the ground like a stone. This is the reason for its name, which means “falling well bucket.” The goal is to trap and eat an animal, or a human if the head is large enough. Then they slip back into the trees, sometimes singing a monstrous taunt, challenging others to pass underneath. They enjoy this style of killing, letting out a horrible, guffawing laugh as they hunt and devour their prey. When they are not hungry, tsurube otoshi will sometimes drop down and crush people just for fun. They also drop large rocks or even well buckets (they have a sense of humor) on their victims from up high, laughing at the damage they inflict. Travelers passing under tall trees late at night would be wise to keep their heads up. They may be crushed by a falling tsurube otoshi.

Tsurube otoshi encountered in the Kansai region are most often solitary, gargantuan heads. In the Tohoku region, tsurube otoshi are usually encountered in larger groups of slightly smaller heads.