Legendary being of the week – The Kanbari Nyūdō

Let me begin this post with a small blog update:

My original idea with this blog was to write about practically anything, anything at all that interested me or was in my mind at the time. However, I’ve decided to focus on carefully selected subjects instead, as I realized a blog that acts basically as my journal is probably not of much interest to the world. And I don’t want you as a reader to feel like you’re wasting your time here.

As such, I’ve decided to focus on the themes I am the most passionate about such as legends, mythological creatures, art, books and writing.
I might write more posts in style with last month’s welcome post, but those kind of posts are currently on hold indefinitely.


Now, without further ado — let us move on to the Kanbari nyūdō, which will be my first legendary being in my new weekly series.


The first thing you need to know about the kanbari nyūdō is that nyūdō is actually a type of yōkai, or kami, that goes under the name of ōnyūdō. The ōnyūdō is the term for any and all giant-like beings in Japan, often depicted in the form of a monk or an old man whom for some reason are usually bald.
There are lots of ōnyūdō in Japanese folklore — and the legends surrounding a lot of them are some of Japan’s absolutely most fascinating ones — ranging from the possibly giraffe-inspired mikoshi nyūdō to the cyclops-like hitotsume nyūdō. Also, fun fact if you’re interested in anime/manga, more specifically One Piece; Wadatsumi, (that in itself is a reference to the dragon kami of the sea: Watatsumi) the giant tiger blowfish fishman, goes under the nickname ōnyūdō and to top it all off, he is also referred to as Umibozu by Usopp — another character in the series —  which in turn is yet another type of ōnyūdō.
It is a potpourri of references to spiritual beings in one character.

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Wadatsumi

As you can see, there are a lot of different kinds of onyudo, and there is unlimited variations we could explore (and perhaps will!) but let us get back to the kanbari nyūdō that I mentioned earlier.
The kanbari nyūdō is a yōkai that haunts bathrooms and toilets. Yeah, I know. For some reason the Japanese folklore is filled to the brim with toilet-haunting beings. (The Kurote, Hanako-san, the Aka Manto and the filth-licker Akaname to name a few)
The kanbari nyūdō thankfully only shows up one day of the year, on new year’s eve. Compared to the ippondatara, which shows up once a year as well and kill anyone it meets, the kanbari nyūdō is quite harmless as it’s rumored to simply cause you bad luck.
In some stories the opposite happens if you call upon the yōkai yourself, by doing this it is also possible to avoid any problems which may arise during your visits to the toilet the next year such as; unzipped pants, tripping and falling on the floor or ending up with toilet paper stuck in between your cheeks or any other commonly experienced bathroom-related incident.
Actually I have no idea what problems could be severe enough in the bathroom that it would justify summoning a giant spirit, likely malevolent and with the possibility of causing you bad luck for a whole year. But what do I know?

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The legends surrounding the kanbari nyūdō varies from prefecture to prefecture, as is customary in Japanese folklore, but the common trait shared amongst the kanbari is that it enjoy peeping on people doing their business and cursing them with bad luck in different ways. But don’t worry, there is also something in it for you as well, if you go to a secluded toilet on new year’s eve and do not encounter the kanbari, and instead chant ganbari nyūdō, there is a chance you might find a human head in the bottom of the toilet. At this point; the legends varies, but the gist of it is that you’re supposed to pick up the head and cover it in some way and you’ll be rewarded with lots of gold.

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See you next week for another legendary being!

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