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A depiction of the nurikabe

The nurikabe (ぬりかべ) is a Yōkai, or spirit, from Japanese folklore. It manifests as a wall that impedes or misdirects walking travelers at night. Trying to go around is futile as it extends itself forever. Knocking on the lower left part of the wall makes it disappear.[1] It has been suggested that the legend was created to explain travellers losing their bearings on long journeys.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

The nurikabe is an inspiration for the enemy known as the Whomp from the Mario series. In the Mario series, the player must cause the Whomp to fall and make it vanish by stomping on its back, similar to the legend of tapping the lower corner of the nurikabe. Another type of Whomp appears in the Mario game Super Mario 3D Land and are called Wallops and much like Nurikabe, they block the path so Mario can't pass.

Nurikabe is also an inspiration for a creature known as Monol from the Monster Rancher In the Monster Rancher series, the Monol, much like the nurikabe, can change its form and expand itself. The Blockhead enemies in Okami require the player to memorize a pattern of weak points and mark them with their brush to be defeated, thus opening a path.

It is also the inspiration for a puzzle type of the same name.

There is a Nurikabe character in the popular anime GeGeGe no Kitaro who used his massive size to protect Kitaro and his friends.


  1. ^ THE日本 Visual Human Life. 講談社. 1986: 759. ISBN 4-06-202038-6
  2. ^ "Nurikabe". The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World 1. Harper Element. 2006. p. 491. 
  • 妖怪ドットコム 『図説 妖怪辞典』 幻冬舎コミックス、2008年。ISBN 978-4-344-81486-8