Jorogumo: Japanese spider demon

Jorogumo : the Japanese spider demon and yokai

The culture of Japan is sometimes cute or terrifying. Indeed, some urban myths tell scary stories about Japanese oni demons, vengeful Yurei ghosts, or monsters with sharp fangs and teeth.

Jorogumo (絡新婦) is a demonic creature belonging to Japanese folklore. It is a Yokai spirit whose body is that of an attractive woman and limbs that of a killer spider...

To learn more about Japanese myths and the various demons of Shinto folklore, here is the famous Yokai list from Japanese culture. But first, let's find out together what a Jorogumo really is. And why you should be wary of it...

What is a Jorogumo?

Woman in Spider Jorogumo KimonoArtist credit: Eldorian

A Jorogumo is the evolution of a spider that receives magical powers when it reaches 400 years of life. Her anatomy changes dramatically. Her form evolves, and she transforms into a beautiful and attractive woman. She stops feeding on insects and begins to only devour humans. She attracts to her nests, young men in search of one night stands. This spider demon attracts young men with her beauty and the melodious music she plays with biwa.

When this Japanese creature is about to eat, it abandons its human form and transforms into a gigantic spider. Its size can reach two meters high, its legs join to form its abdomen.

These spiders are solitary creatures that live in the bowels of forests, in remote caves, or in abandoned houses, far from society.

The Jorogumo are highly intelligent, cunning and heartless beings with no feelings and an insatiable hunger.

Magical powers

Jorogumo Yokai is a Japanese monster and demon from Shinto mythologyArtist credit: Renita Alcordo

During the Edo period, it was very common to hear stories about a beautiful woman who lured men into her hiding place. Then the woman would begin to play her biwa, bringing a beautiful melody to life. This music had the ability to hypnotize her victim. As she enveloped him in her powerful web, from which it was almost impossible to escape.

In addition to their web, these Japanese spirits possess a deadly venom, which slowly weakens their prey. They eat men in the quietest of ways. Sometimes their victims are used for incubation of their future offspring. Or, they keep their human for a future meal.

 The Jorogumo have the ability to control other spiders with their magic, either to detect the location of a new victim, or to follow their trail.They also have the ability to spit acid, to burn the bones of their victims. This ability is used to cover their tracks if they feel threatened or know they are in danger of being discovered.

They run very fast and have great jumping power. This allows them to corner their victim if they try to escape.She can also build large spider webs to make hunting easier. She is able to climb walls and has great stealth ability.

How do you escape a Jorogumo? 

samurai facing Jorogumo in the video game Nioh

The Japanese legend tells that the only way to escape a Jorogumo is to love a person with all your heart. This way, it's impossible to fall under the spell of this seductive woman and her hypnotic music.

But if your heart belongs to no one, there's also the possibility of killing her by throwing diatomite at her. This is a fossilized powder from an algae also called diatomite. The magic powder will totally dehydrate the whole body of the arachnid.

The Jorogumo are also afraid of fire, so you can burn them to kill them. It is said that the samurai of the Edo period tried to kill them with a sword or stake. The weapon must pierce the thorax or abdomen of this beast. This is the most difficult way to kill them, as they are very powerful creatures.nAnother type of protection against these deadly creatures is to rub a mixture of mint leaf oil with lemon and a little water. For they hate the smell.

The Legend of Jorogumo

Terrifying spider demon monster with a geisha headArtist credit: Marek Madej

There are several stories involving this mythological creature, here is the most popular:

A man was resting by a waterfall, when he felt his feet were stuck to a powerful spider web. The man acted quickly and managed to escape. Back in his village, he warned them of the creature's presence. They named the creature Jorogumo.

A woodcutter arrived in the area and lost his axe in the water of a lake, a beautiful woman appeared and returned his tool. Before she disappeared, she asked him not to tell anyone what had happened, as the village was telling false rumors about him.

Time passed and the stranger got drunk at night revealing his scary story. He fell asleep as usual but never woke up again. And this may be only the beginning of his nightmare...

Jorogumo today

a man with a jorogumoo tattoo on his head and arm

Today, this fantastic being is very popular in Japanese pop culture... The Spider Jorogumo has made appearances in television series, such as:

  • Gravity Falls, which devoted an entire episode of the series to him titled "Roadside Attraction".
  • Another mention of the character can be found in the series "SOOS", in the chapter: "The mountain of the secret" where she is mentioned.
  • In the anime "Dororo", a Jorogumo appears as one of the main villains of this animation.
  • In one episode of the anime series Love, Death + Robot, the episode behind the rift tells the story of a ship lost in space. But in reality the men on the ship are being devoured little by little by a galactic spider woman who controls their minds.
  • In the video game some bumps are spider demons: jorogumo Nioh.
  • Irezumi art: jorogumo tattoo is really popular for traditional Japanese tattoo.

What do you think about the story of this terrifying creature? The important thing is that you now know how to act if you encounter one, and know everything about it.

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