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Utagawa Kuniyoshi, "Souma no furudairi (相馬の古内裏)" also known as "Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre".

Gashadokuro (がしゃどくろ/ 餓者髑髏, literally "starving skeleton," also known as Odokuro) are mythical creatures in Japanese mythology.


The Gashadokuro are spirits that take the form of giant skeletons and are fifteen times taller than an average person, said to be created from the amassed bones of people who died of starvation or in battle, without being buried. These Yōkai roam after midnight, grabbing lone travelers and biting off their heads to drink their spraying blood. There is a way to know of their approach, as the victim would hear the sound of loud ringing in the ear. The Gashadokuro are said to possess the powers of invisibility and indestructibility; though Shinto charms are said to ward them off.[1][better source needed]

In modern culture[edit]

The Gashadokuro is a yōkai that first appeared in print in the later half of the 20th century. It was created by the authors of shonen magazines published from 1960 - 1970 and illustrated yōkai encyclopedias. Shigeaki Yamauchi's World's Bizarre Thriller Complete Works 2: Monsters of the World (Akita Shoten, 1968) compiled articles about yōkai by Saitō Ryokuu. At the same time, it was also picked up by Shigeru Mizuki and Satō Aribumi, and from their introduction the Gashadokuro became more widely known from 1980 on.

The illustration in Arabumi's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Japanese Yōkai (1972) and the illustration by Mizuki both base the appearance of the Gashadokuro on the giant skeleton in Utagawa Kuniyoshi's ukiyo-e print, Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre. It has no direct connection to the Gashadokuro, but is said to have influenced modern depictions. Kuniyoshi's print was commissioned in the Edo period by Santō Kyōden for a yomihon, depicting a scene in which Taira no Masakado's daughter, Takiyasha-hime, summons a skeleton yōkai to attack the samurai Ooya Tarou Mitsukuni. Although originally described as many life-sized skeletons, Kuniyoshi depicted it as a single giant skeleton, as is characteristic of his work.

Similar Yōkai[edit]

In the entry for Gashadokuro in Mizuki's book, a related tale from the Nihon Ryōiki is introduced. It tells of a man in Bingo Province (Hiroshima Prefecture) who is in a field at night and, hearing an eerie voice moaning, "My eye hurts," finds a skeleton there with a bamboo shoot growing from its eye socket. He removes the bamboo shoot and offers the skeleton dried boiled rice, upon which the skeleton tells him the story of its murder and its personal history, and rewards him for his kindness. Though this tale has been conflated with that of the Gashadokuro, the two are in fact unrelated, the Gashadokuro having originated in the later half of the 20th century.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the Super Sentai series, the Gashadokuro was adapted into its projects:
  • In one of the DLC episodes of the PlayStation Vita re-release Muramasa: The Demon Blade, one of the final bosses is a Gashadokuro.
  • The Gashadokuro (usually referred to as "Giant Skeleton") is portrayed in varying roles of significance throughout the Castlevania series.
  • In Hellboy: Sword of Storms, a Gashadokuro rises from the ground of a cemetery and rakes the ground to unleash many undead monsters on Hellboy.
  • In Goemon's Great Adventure, a Gashadokuro is encountered in an early level while on a bridge.
  • In the Studio Ghibli movie Pom Poko, the monster parade scene features a Gashadokuro.
  • In AdventureQuest Worlds, the Gashadokuro is featured as the forbidden Beast of Chaos called the O-Dokuro. Kitsune uses the Hanzamune Blade to free it from a time rift and bring it to Yokai Island. The players fight it in two different forms; first as a complete skeleton, and later on as only a head.
  • In Yo-kai Watch, there is a Yo-kai called Gutsy Bones (Gashadokuro in the Japanese version). He has control over the gashapons.
  • In Okamiden, there is a demon known as a Gashadokuro which resembles a humongous human skeleton with a fiery core and twin blades embedded in its stomach. There is also an armoured version which is much more powerful.
  • In the manga/anime series, Inu x Boku SS, Roromiya Karuta is a Gashadokuro.
  • In Kubo and the Two Strings, a Gashadokuro appears as an antagonist, guarding the Sword Unbreakable, which is one of many swords embedded in its skull. It is the largest stop motion puppet ever built, standing around 16 feet tall.[2] Later in the film, a Byōbu of the Gashadokuro appears in Hanzo's abandoned fortress that is very much based on the one from "Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre"
  • In Nioh, Gasha-Dokuro appears as the boss for the mission "The Source of Evil".
  • In the Dark Souls series, there are frequent enemies later in the games which resemble the Gashadokuro and often that live in the deepest depths of the earth. The Giant Skeletons in the Tomb of the Giants from the first game may be inspired by the Gashadokuro.
  • In Nurarihyon no Mago there is an antagonist named Gashadokuro, who is an enormous human-shaped skeleton with a single eyeball.

See also[edit]