Amanojaku, or Amanjaku (天邪鬼, "heavenly evil spirit") is a demon-like creature in Japanese folklore. It is usually depicted as a kind of small oni, and is thought to be able to provoke a person's darkest desires and thus instigate him into perpetrating wicked deeds.
One of the amanojaku's best known appearances is in the fairytale Urikohime (瓜子姫, "melon princess"), in which a girl miraculously born from a melon is doted upon by an elderly couple. They shelter her from the outside world, and she naively lets the amanojaku inside one day, where it kidnaps or devours her, and sometimes impersonates her by wearing her flayed skin.
Amanojaku in religion
The amanojaku is commonly held to be derived from Amanosagume (天探女), a wicked deity in Shintō myth, which shares the amanojaku's contrary nature and ability to see into a person's heart, "a very perverted demon".
The creature has also entered Buddhist thought, perhaps via syncretism with the yaksha, where it is considered an opponent of Buddhist teachings. It is commonly depicted as being trampled on and subdued into righteousness by Bishamonten or one of the other Shitennō. In this context it is also called a jaki (邪鬼).
In popular culture
- In the manga Nurarihyon no Mago, an amanojaku named Awashima is revealed to be male during the day and female at night.
- In the manga Urotsukidōji, Amano Jyaku is the titular protagonist.
- In the anime Ghost Stories, Amanojaku is accidentally sealed inside the main character's pet cat.
- In the game Double Dealing Character, the stage 5 boss is an amanojaku named Seija Kijin who has the power to change how a person perceives something.
Mizuki, Shigeru (2004). Mujara 5: Tōhoku, Kyūshū-hen. Japan: Soft Garage. p. 6. ASIN 4861330270.
- Fujino Bunraku 2001 (contains mythological information and images)