Creature Feature: Nopperabou

Nopperabou is a creature from Japanese folklore. Though they look like normal people, the nopperabou’s distinctive feature is their face, which lacks eyes, a nose, or a mouth. Instead of normal human features, nopperabou have only smooth skin. People who encounter nopperabou usually do not immediately realize that they are talking to something that is otherworldly, as the creatures are able to create the illusion that they have a normal human face. A nopperabou will wait for the right moment before causing their features to disappear, scaring the person they are speaking with. People usually run into nopperabou at night in lonely rural settings, although they can appear anywhere as long as the area is deserted. The nopperabou’s primary purpose is to scare humans, but beyond that they do not seem to have any sort of agenda.

One famous nopperabou story is Lafcadio Hearn’s Mujina. The story is short and deftly describes an encounter with a nopperabou, but it is also the source of much confusion. In the story, Hearn refers to the creatures as mujina, which is actually a different type of creature altogether (a sort of badger). This mistake has caused a lot of Western readers to mix up the names for nopperabou and mujina, and even today you will run across authors and scholars that are using the wrong name. Regardless, the story itself is a very typical tale of nopperabou mischief.

3 thoughts on “Creature Feature: Nopperabou

  1. This “creature feature” is one of the best things in the site for me. All those japanase folklore myths are totally unknown, to me at least, so I am always intrigued what creature lurks around the corner of your next “creature feature” post…

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Very interesting feature in this site indeed… i think ive heard bout this one tho. reminds me of that faceless woman in Re-cycle

  3. I like the idea of these creatures who don’t linger to reenact unresolved psychological trauma or seek vengeance from beyond the grave for an earthly grievance but instead just goof around to spook passersby. They’re the otherworldly equivalent of the stoners who perpetually hang around outside the 7-11.

    Here’s another “thank you” for this feature; it’s genuinely intriguing and enlightening, and it introduces so many Japanese creatures of which I’ve never before heard.

Comments are closed.