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The nuppeppō as illustrated by Toriyama Sekien.
Similar creaturesFrankenstein's monster
First reportedas early as 1737
Other name(s)Nuppefuhō
HabitatDeserted streets, abandoned temples, graveyards
Nuppeppō (ぬつへつほう) from Bakemono no e (化物之繪, c. 1700), Harry F. Bruning Collection of Japanese Books and Manuscripts, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

The nuppeppō (Japanese: ぬっぺっぽう), or nuppefuhō (Japanese: ぬっぺふほう) is a genderless yōkai in Japanese folklore described as having a flabby appearance and a pungent body odor. It has appeared in Japanese literature since the 18th century.


The name "nuppeppō" is a corruption of the derogatory slang nupperi (ぬっぺり), used to describe a woman who applies too much makeup.[1] This is most likely a reference to the creature's saggy appearance, which is similar to the sagging of a face under heavy makeup.


The nuppeppō appears as a blob of flesh with a hint of a face in the folds of fat. Though largely amorphous, fingers, toes, and even rudimentary limbs may be attributed as features amidst the fold of skin;[2] the origins of the nuppeppō are unknown. However, it is sometimes described as constructed of the flesh of dead humans in a manner similar to Frankenstein's monster.[1]

Behaviors and powers[edit]

The nuppeppō is passive and almost entirely harmless, but it has a repulsive body odor is said to rival that smell of rotting flesh; those who eat the flesh of a nuppeppō are described as being granted eternal youth.[1][3]

The nuppeppō aimlessly wanders deserted streets of villages, towns and cities, often at night towards the year-end, or graveyards or abandoned temples, it is usually a solitary creature, but there have reportedly been sightings of them in groups.[1] If encountered, the nuppeppō is unlikely to cause a human any harm. However, its lumbering stature and foul odor may cause shock and alarm.

References in Japanese culture[edit]

The Nuppeppō in Sawaki Suushi's Hyakkai-Zukan

Illustrations of the Nuppeppō can be found as early as the 1737 Hyakkai Zukan by author Sawaki Suushi and the late seventeenth century Bakemono no e.[4][5] Later illustrations can be found in the works of Toriyama Sekien, starting with his 1776 publication Gazu Hyakki Yagyō.[6]

The 18th century scribe Makibokusen wrote a scroll describing the appearance of a creature matching the description of the nuppeppō at the castle of shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu. According to the story, Tokugawa ordered that the creature be sent away to the mountains unharmed so that it could be kept safe and clear of human settlements. Tokugawa later learns that the creature is noted in Chinese literature as being a "sovereign specific", endowed with powers of restoration.[1]

Author Mizuki Shigeru also features the nuppeppō in his iconic GeGeGe no Kitarō manga and anime series, as well as in his encyclopaedic book of yōkai, Yōkai Jiten;[7] the nuppeppō has also made appearances in various cinematic productions, most notably the Yokai Monsters trilogy. In Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare, the nuppeppō is seen alongside a roster of other traditional yōkai helping to fend off a Babylonian invader.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Yoda, Hiroko; Alt, Matt (October 2008). Yokai Attack!: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide. Illustrated by Tatsuya Morino (1st ed.). Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha International. pp. 177–180. ISBN 9784770030702.
  2. ^ Clayton, James (2010-02-20). "One Hundred Mythical Creatures in Haiku: Day LXXXII - Nuppeppo". Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  3. ^ Foster, Michael Dylan (January 14, 2015). The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore. Illustrated by Shinonome Kijin. Oakland, California: University of California Press. pp. 207–211. ISBN 978-0520271029.
  4. ^ 湯本, 豪一 (May 2006). 続・妖怪図巻 [Yōkai Illustration Volume, Continued]. Tokyo, Japan: Kokushokan Kokai. ISBN 9784336047786.
  5. ^ "Bakemono no e." c. 1700. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  6. ^ 鳥山, 石燕 (July 23, 2005). 鳥山石燕 画図百鬼夜行全画集 [The Complete Book of Monster Drawings] (4th ed.). Tokyo, Japan: Kadokawa Shoten. ISBN 978-4-04-405101-3.
  7. ^ 水木, しげる (August 1981). 水木しげるの妖怪事典. Tokyo, Japan: Tōkyōdō Shuppan. ISBN 978-4490101492.

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