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"Takaonna" (高女) from the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Toriyama Sekien

Takaonna (高女, "tall woman") was a Japanese yōkai that appeared in the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Toriyama Sekien.


In that Gazu (illustrated reference), it depicts beside what appears to be a brothel a woman with an elongated lower body, but the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō has no explanatory text, so it is unclear what kind of yōkai this depiction was intended to be.[1] There is the interpretation that this yōkai was an imaginary invention designed to parody the Yoshiwara Yūkaku of the Edo period.[2]

The book Yōkaigadan Zenshū Nihonhen Jō (妖怪画談全集 日本編 上, "Complete Analysis of Yōkai Paintings, Volume Japan, First Part") by the folklorist Morihiko Fujisawa gives the explanation that in the story from the Wakayama Prefecture called Takanyōbō (高女房, "Tall Woman"), a takaonna would cause frights on the second floors of girō (brothels).[1] Also, in the book Tōhoku Kaidan no Tabi (Travels for Mysterious Tales of Tōhoku) by the novelist Norio Yamada, the kaidan (mysterious tale) titled "Takaonna" presents the takaonna as one that peeks peek into the second floor of the house, as a deeply jealous and ugly woman who could not get with any man, so they would walk around peeking on the second floors of brothels.[3] Due to this, much yōkai-related literature from the post-war period would also state that the takaonna is an ugly woman unable to get with any man who would mutate and become a monster and then peek into the second floor of brothels to menace people,[4] but the yōkai researcher Kenji Murakami points out that Fujisawa's explanation is nothing more than a mere imagined interpretation of Sekien's painting and that Yamada's mysterious tale is a completely different tale that simply put under the title of being a takaonna.[1]


In 2016, August 2, it was reported that at the Hidakakōshioya Ryokuchi Park in Gobō, Wakayama Prefecture, the stone statue of a takaonna at the Sio Taupe was discovered by staff to have been severed at its base.[5] This takaonna statue was based on Mizuki Shigeru's design and since 2009 has been displayed alongside 9 other yōkai statues. On the 10th of the same month, the torso of the takaonna statue was discovered at the bottom of the harbor (at a depth of 4.5 meters) and was raised back up, but its right hand was broken.[6] On September 16 at around 5:00 AM, the Gobō police station sent charges against a male high school student of the city to the Prosecutor's Office of Tanabe, Wakayama for the suspicion of having inflicted property damage by kicking the takaonna statue (worth around 120 thousand yen).[7] These reports across the country of this incident gave the takaonna new fame.

The Carpenter and Taka-Onna[edit]

Once in the prefecture of Wakayama was a man who worked wood. This man was married and had a child. He hired 30 servants who went. When her son was five years old, he mysteriously disappeared. After this, his servants began to die one by one. Finally, when there were fewer than half a medium came home and asked what happened. The husband replied that nothing special. The medium then took caution. The man of the house felt strange. His wife asked what had made the medium and the husband said that he had only asked what was happening in the house and then he had retired. The man's wife was neurotic and east to see his reaction, was scared. Then the man lied to his wife he had a fever and went to bed early. Someone came to the foot of his bed and said, "When your wife looks back appearance and must escape to the mountains. You run and run!" After hearing this, his wife looked back and as was to lie in bed pretending to sleep. His wife became an oni. It had a height of 2.1 meters. He took off his clothes and became a beautiful lady accompanied by a roar like thunder, but half of her body still remained spellbound. The husband was shocked and escaped into the mountains. His wife was a Taka-onna which could control the length of the parts of your body. She had killed the servants and if the husband had stayed there also have been slain by her.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 村上健司編著 (2000). 妖怪事典. 毎日新聞社. p. 208. ISBN 978-4-620-31428-0.
  2. ^ 多田克己 (2006). 百鬼解読. 講談社文庫. 講談社. p. 20. ISBN 978-4-06-275484-2.
  3. ^ 山田野理夫 (1974). 東北怪談の旅. 自由国民社. p. 172. NCID BA42139725.
  4. ^ 多田克己 (1990). 幻想世界の住人たち. Truth In Fantasy. IV. 新紀元社. p. 268. ISBN 978-4-915146-44-2.
  5. ^ 妖怪「高女」の石像、公園から盗難 水木さんデザイン:朝日新聞デジタル
  6. ^ 盗難の妖怪「高女」石像、海底で発見 水木さんデザイン:朝日新聞デジタル
  7. ^ 水木しげるさんデザインの妖怪「高女」像損壊の疑い、高校生を書類送検 和歌山県警

External links[edit]