Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Something About Kuchisake-onna (口裂け女)

Big-mouth strikes again.

The only Japanese yōkai I am familiar with is Kuchisake-onna (口裂け女, "slit-mouthed woman"), mostly because Lewis Barnavelt runs into the woman on the streets of New Zebedee in The Tower at the End of the World (2001):
Lewis felt rooted to the spot. The woman’s eyes were burning. But her mouth —her mouth! It was a red gash straight across her face, from ear to ear. It split open, revealing dozens of sharp, curving, yellow teeth. They grinned at Lewis in a horrible leer!
Matthew Meyer (Yokai.com) writes how interacting with the woman is usually never a win-win situation:
Kuchisake onna sneaks up on her victims in the dark and asks them if they think she is beautiful: “Watashi, kirei?” If the victim answers yes, she pulls off her mask and reveals a red, blood-dripping, grotesque mouth. Then she asks in a grisly voice if they still think she is beautiful: “Kore demo?” If her victim answers no or screams in terror, she slashes him from ear to ear in an imitation of her own mutilation. If he lies and answers yes a second time, she walks away—only to follow her target home and slaughter him brutally that night.

I’m curious what long-time readers of the Barnavelt series thought of this mysterious figure popping up in small-town Michigan?

1 comment:

Russ said...

I am afraid that I have no strong memories of this title. It is probably a book I only read once, when it was released. I did consider it as a possibly candidate to have a Yokai, but I just did not remember much about the book.