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Futakuchi-onna: The Mythical Japanese Woman with Two Mouths

Futakuchi-onna is a fascinating and eerie creature deeply entrenched in Japanese folklore and mythology. This yokai is characterized by her two mouths – a normal one located on her face and a second one on the back of the head beneath the hair. There, the woman’s skull splits apart, forming lips, teeth, and a tongue, creating an entirely functional second mouth.

The Futakuchi-onna Yokai is often depicted as a woman with long, flowing hair, which covers her second mouth. She is said to have a voracious appetite and is known to eat twice as much as a normal person. According to legend, the second mouth is formed when a woman is extremely stingy with food, and it is said that the mouth will scream in agony if the woman tries to eat anything that is not given to her.

The Futakuchi-onna Yokai has been a popular subject in Japanese art and literature for centuries. Her unique physical characteristics and mysterious origins captivate both the imagination and the curiosity of those who delve into her tales.

Origin and Mythology

Japanese Folklore

Futakuchi-onna is a type of yōkai, a supernatural creature in Japanese folklore. The name “Futakuchi-onna” literally means “two-mouthed woman.” According to legend, this creature is a woman who has a second mouth on the back of her head, hidden beneath her hair. The second mouth is fully functional and can eat just like the first one.

One of the most popular stories about the origin of Futakuchi-onna involves a woman who was abused by her husband and family. As a result of the cruel treatment, she developed a ravenous appetite, but her family refused to provide her with enough food. Over time, a second mouth mysteriously appeared on the back of her head, allowing her to feed herself without their knowledge.

Historical Context

Futakuchi-onna is believed to have originated in the Edo period of Japan (1603-1868), a time when yōkai were a popular subject of art and literature. These supernatural creatures were often used to represent the fears and anxieties of the Japanese people during this time of political and social upheaval.

The concept of Futakuchi-onna may also have been influenced by the practice of foot-binding in China, which was known to cause deformities in the feet. Similarly, the idea of a second mouth on the back of the head may have been inspired by medical conditions such as cleft palate or conjoined twins.

Overall, the mythology surrounding Futakuchi-onna continues to fascinate people to this day, and remains an enduring part of Japanese folklore.

Physical Description

Futakuchi-onna is a type of yokai or Japanese monster. She is characterized by her two mouths, a normal one located on her face and a second one on the back of the head beneath the hair. There, the woman’s skull splits apart, forming lips, teeth, and a tongue, creating an entirely functional second mouth.

Human Features

Futakuchi-onna outwardly appears human, with one critical difference: in addition to the normal human mouth, they have a second, slightly more monstrous mouth in the back of their heads with a pair of long, serpentine palps beside it. Her hair is long and often used as a feeding mechanism for the second mouth. Futakuchi-onna’s eyes are often depicted as large and round, and her face is usually painted white.

Second Mouth Characteristics

The most notable physical feature of the Futakuchi-onna Yokai is her second mouth, hidden on the back of her head. This mouth is surrounded by large lips and teeth, and her long, tentacle-like hair acts as her feeding mechanism. The second mouth is entirely functional and can consume food just like the primary mouth. The exact reason for the second mouth’s existence is unclear, with some legends suggesting that it is a curse or a result of extreme hunger.

In conclusion, Futakuchi-onna is a unique creature with two mouths, one located on the face and the other on the back of the head. The creature’s human-like appearance with the addition of the second mouth makes it a fascinating and terrifying yokai in Japanese mythology.

Behavior and Abilities

Feeding Habits

Futakuchi-onna is known for its unique feeding habit. The second mouth located on the back of their head is capable of consuming food just like a regular mouth. According to Japanese folklore, Futakuchi-onna’s second mouth is always hungry, and they need to feed it constantly. It is said that the second mouth can consume twice the amount of food that a normal mouth can.

Supernatural Powers

Futakuchi-onna is a powerful yokai with several supernatural abilities. The most notable of these is their ability to shape-shift. They can transform into any form they desire, including animals, objects, and even humans. This power makes it difficult to identify them, and they can easily deceive their victims.

Another supernatural power of Futakuchi-onna is their ability to control their hair. They can use their hair to attack their enemies or to restrain them. Their hair is also capable of extending to great lengths, making it a powerful weapon.

In addition to these abilities, Futakuchi-onna is also known to have superhuman strength and agility. They can move quickly and silently, making it difficult for their victims to escape.

Cultural Significance

Futakuchi-onna is a prominent figure in Japanese folklore and culture. It has been depicted in various forms of media, including literature, anime, and movies. The creature is known for its unique appearance, characterized by a second mouth on the back of its head.

Literature and Media

Futakuchi-onna has been a popular subject in Japanese literature and media. It has appeared in numerous books, manga, and anime series, including “GeGeGe no Kitaro,” “Nurarihyon no Mago,” and “Inuyasha.” The creature’s popularity can be attributed to its eerie appearance and the intriguing stories that surround it.


In Japanese culture, Futakuchi-onna represents various themes and concepts. It is often associated with greed, as the creature is known for its insatiable appetite. It is also seen as a symbol of feminine power, as it is a female creature with a unique ability. The second mouth on the back of its head is also interpreted as a manifestation of suppressed emotions and desires.

Overall, Futakuchi-onna is an important part of Japanese folklore and culture. Its unique appearance and intriguing stories have captivated audiences for generations, making it an enduring symbol of Japanese mythology.

Regional Variations

Futakuchi-onna is a mythical creature that originated in Japan and is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. However, variations of this creature can be found in other parts of the world.

In Korea, there is a similar creature known as Nogitsune, which is a fox spirit that can shape-shift into a human form. Like Futakuchi-onna, Nogitsune can also be malevolent or benevolent.

In China, there is a creature known as Jiangshi, which is a type of zombie that hops around and feeds on the life force of the living. While Jiangshi does not have a second mouth, it shares the same horror and supernatural elements as Futakuchi-onna.

In Southeast Asia, there is a creature known as Penanggalan, which is a female vampire that detaches her head from her body and flies around at night to feed on the blood of the living. While Penanggalan does not have a second mouth, it shares the same grotesque and terrifying features as Futakuchi-onna.

Despite the differences in appearance and behavior, these creatures share commonalities in their supernatural abilities and their ability to strike fear into the hearts of those who encounter them.

Encounters and Stories

Encounters with Futakuchi-onna have been reported throughout Japanese folklore. In many stories, the Futakuchi-onna is a wife of a miser and rarely eats. To counteract this, a second mouth mysteriously appears on the back of the woman’s head. The second mouth often mumbles spiteful and threatening things to the woman and demands food. If it is not fed, it can screech obscenely and cause the woman tremendous pain.

One story tells of a man who was traveling through the mountains when he stumbled upon a beautiful woman. She invited him to her home and prepared him a meal. As he ate, he noticed that the woman’s hair began to move on its own, snaking towards the food. He soon realized that the woman was a Futakuchi-onna and fled in terror.

Another tale recounts how a Futakuchi-onna disguised herself as a beautiful woman and married a wealthy man. She used her second mouth to consume twice as much food as a normal person, causing the household to fall into poverty. When her husband discovered her secret, he fled in terror, leaving the Futakuchi-onna to live out her days alone.

These stories serve as cautionary tales about the dangers of greed and the consequences of mistreating others.

Interpretations and Analysis

Futakuchi-onna is a fascinating creature that has captured the attention of many people around the world. This yokai is known for its unique feature of having a second mouth on the back of its head, which is often interpreted as a representation of hidden desires and secrets. The second mouth is also seen as a symbol of greed and gluttony, as it is said to be used to consume large amounts of food.

Some interpretations of Futakuchi-onna suggest that it represents the societal pressure on women to suppress their desires and emotions. The hidden second mouth could be seen as a metaphor for the unspoken thoughts and feelings that women are expected to keep to themselves. This interpretation is supported by the fact that many depictions of Futakuchi-onna show her as a victim of abuse or neglect.

Another interpretation of Futakuchi-onna is that it represents the dangers of excessive consumption. The creature’s insatiable hunger and ability to consume large amounts of food could be seen as a warning against greed and gluttony. This interpretation is supported by the fact that many stories about Futakuchi-onna involve her punishing those who are greedy or stingy.

Overall, Futakuchi-onna is a complex and intriguing creature that has inspired many different interpretations and analyses. Whether seen as a representation of hidden desires and emotions, or a warning against excessive consumption, this yokai continues to capture the imagination of people around the world.