The Kunekune (くねくね) is a fictitious being created on Japanese internet sites as an urban legend, similar to the infamous Slenderman. It was first mentioned in 2003 on several websites at the same time. At these websites, the Kunekune is considered to be a "modern Yōkai".
The Kunekune is said to resemble a long, slender, white and humanoid shape, like a paper manikin or a piece of fine fabric. It is said that the being can be found at lunchtime during hot summer days. The Kunekune lingers in widely extended rice fields or acres, in rare cases it might be found over the open sea. Its limbs are said to wiggle permanently, as if there was a straight gust of wind, even if it was a windless day. This behaviour gave the being the Japanese name "Kunekune", meaning "to twist", "to wiggle" or "to meander".
The Kunekune allegedly can only be seen from a distance. In the countryside, it looks snow white. In a city, it looks pitch black. If someone tries to look at it up close, he will go insane. If someone touches it, or simply comes too close, the Kunekune will kill its victim. If someone instead just leaves, the Kunekune will ignore you.
First mention of the Kunekune appeared in 2003 at several websites at the same time. These websites deal with made-up stories concerning ghosts, demons and other kinds of spook. Soon after first published reports, Kunekune-believers began to write and collect their own (mostly made up) stories. These are all written in the first person singular in attempt to make them look like eye-witness reports. A similar phenomenon can be observed with the case of the infamous Slenderman and with Hanako-san.
The appearance of the Kunekune may be the result of confusion with traditional scarecrows, which are found in fields of rice and barley. Scarecrows are seen in Japan as very scary and many local ghost stories claim that scarecrows come to life during the night, or if one stares at them too long. Another possible explanation might be thick fog clouds, which appear over the fields during lunchtime. A third possibility might be hallucinations, created by heat stroke and dehydration during hot summer days.
- Richard Freeman: The Great Yokai Encylopaedia: The A-Z of Japanese Monsters. CFZ Press, Myrtle Cottage, Bideford 2010, ISBN 978-1-905723-54-6, p. 200.
- Yamaguchi Satoshi Taro: 本当にいる日本の「現代妖怪」図鑑. Ryukura Verlag, Tokyo 2007, ISBN 4773003650, p. 19-23.
- Ito Ryuhei: 「ネット怪談「くねくね. In: 世間話研究, 18. Ausgabe. Smalltalk Study Group, Kyoto 2008, p. 55-57.