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Ushi-oni illustrated by Toriyama Sekien.

The Ushi-Oni (牛鬼, Ox Oni (demon)), or gyūki, is a creature which appears in the folklore of Japan. There are various kinds of ushi-oni, all of them some sort of monster with a horned, bovine head.


Perhaps the most famous ushi-oni appears as a protective symbol in the Uwajima Ushi-oni Festival, which is held in late July in Uwajima of Ehime Prefecture. Something like the dragon dancers at a Chinese New Year celebration, this ushi-oni is represented with a huge, multiple-person costume with a cloth body and a carved, painted head held upon a pole. It has a sword for a tail, and is thought to drive away evil spirits.

Another well-known ushi-oni is a massive, brutal sea-monster which lives off the coast of Shimane Prefecture and other places in Western Japan and attacks fishermen. It is often depicted with a spider- or crab-like body. This ushi-oni seems to be connected to another monster called the nure-onna, who sometimes appears before an ushi-oni attack and tricks the victim into holding her child, which then becomes stuck to the person's hands and grows heavier in order to hinder escape.

Yet another ushi-oni is depicted as a statue on the grounds of the Negoroji temple in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture. It is a bipedal monster with huge tusks, spurred wrists, and membranes like a flying squirrel. A sign nearby explains that this creature terrorized the area about four-hundred years ago, and was slain by a skilled archer by the name of Yamada Kurando Takakiyo (山田蔵人高清). He dedicated its horns to the temple, and they can still be seen to this day.[1]

Ushi-oni are also mentioned in Sei Shōnagon's tenth-century diary The Pillow Book, and in the Taiheiki of the fourteenth century.

Popular culture[edit]

  • The Super Sentai franchise had its adaption of the Ushi-oni:
  • In One Piece, Gyūki: Yuzume is the name of an attack Zoro uses to defeat T-Bone.
  • In both the Nurarihyon no Mago manga and anime series. the beast known as Gyūki happens to be an ushi-oni with the head of an ox and the torso of a spider-like creature with large claws that with its demonic powers would lead lost travelers astray and prey on them.
  • In Naruto, Gyūki is Killer Bee's tailed beast where it a cross of an ox and an octopus with the tentacles making up the tails. He can transform into the beast at will.
  • In Kamen Rider Decade, Hibiki's desire to destroy all Makamou caused his oni power to consume him and turn him into the ox Makamou Gyuki. When Asumu becomes the new Kamen Rider Hibiki, he puts the original Hibiki out of his misery by destroying him with his Mouka Dotou form.
  • In Gegege no Kitaro, an ushi-oni steals Kitaro (GeGeGe no Kitaro)'s soul and forces him to do its bidding.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-12-23. Retrieved 2014-08-12.