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Nurarihyon, from Toriyama Sekien "Gazu Hyakki Yakō."

Nurarihyon (ぬらりひょん, alternatively 滑瓢), or Nūrihyon (ぬうりひょん), is a Japanese Yōkai said to originate from Wakayama Prefecture. It is speculated that the original name used was Nūrihyon, with Nurarihyon being a misreading that got perpetuated.[1][2]


The name Nurarihyon is a portmanteau of the words "Nurari" (Japanese: ぬらり or 滑) meaning "to slip away" and "hyon" (Japanese: ひょん or 瓢), an onomatopoeia used to describe something floating upwards. In the name, the sound "hyon" is represented by the character for "gourd".[3] The Nurarihyon is unrelated to another, similarly named ocean Yōkai from Okayama Prefecture.[4]

Appearance and behaviour

Nurarihyon, from Sawaki Sūshi "Hyakkai Zukan."

The Nurarihyon is usually depicted as an old man with a gourd-shaped head and wearing a kesa.[3]

The Nurarihyon is often depicted sneaking into people's houses while they are away, drinking their tea, and acting as if it is their own house.[4][5] However, this depiction is not one based in folklore, but one based on hearsay and repeated in popular Yōkai media.[4][6]

In popular culture

The Nurarihyon has become quite popular in contemporary Yōkai media, particularly due to the fact that its lack of a concrete background leaves it open to interpretation.[4]


  1. ^ Murakami 2000, p. 255.
  2. ^ Kyōgoku & Tada 2000, p. 149-150.
  3. ^ a b Meyer 2013, p. "Nurarihyon".
  4. ^ a b c d Foster & Kijin 2014, p. 218.
  5. ^ Mizuki 1994, p. 344-345.
  6. ^ Kyōgoku & Tada 2000, p. 149.


  • Davisson, Zack (March 2015). "Back Matter: Nurarihyon". Wayward Volume One: String Theory. Image Comics. ISBN 978-1-63215-173-5. 
  • Foster, Michael Dylan; Kijin, Shinonome (2014). The Book of Yōkai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520271029. 
  • Kyōgoku, Natsuhiko; Tada, Katsumi (2000). Yōkai Zukan. Kokusho Kankōkai. ISBN 4336041873. 
  • Meyer, Matthew (2013). "Nurarihyon". Retrieved 22 May 2016. 
  • Mizuki, Shigeru (1994). Zusetsu Nihon Yōkai Taizen. Kōdansha. ISBN 9784062776028. 
  • Murakami, Kenji (2000). Yōkai Jiten. Mainichi Shinbunsha. ISBN 4620314285. 

See also

External links

  • Nurarihyon – The Slippery Gourd at (English).
  • Nurarihyon from Yōkai on Mizuki Shigeru Road: Sakaiminato Sightseeing Guide (in Japanese)
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