Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Nopperabo

The Nopperabo is a common type of yokai.  These creatures are trickster spirits, seeking to scare but generally not to harm.  They are capable of perfectly impersonating any human -- transforming their face and voice to match their target.  Upon doing so, they will terrify their victim's loved ones, engaging them in conversation before revealing their true identities.  Generally, to frighten a victim, the imposter will wipe off its face -- revealing a blank, featureless one underneath.  This is the true appearance of a Nopperabo.

A typical Nopperabo story goes like this.  A man is taking a nighttime walk, and sees a young woman crying by the side of the road.  Her face is buried in her hands, and the man goes over to comfort her.  When he asks if she is alright, she lifts her head to look at him --revealing the blank countenance of a Nopperabo.  Terrified, the man flees down the road.  As he continues along, he encounters a food vendor , with whom he shares his story.  At first, the vendor seems sympathetic -- until he, too, reveals his blank face.

The man loses his wits entirely at this point, and flees all the way home.  Shaking with fear, he arrives at his house, and nearly collapses from exhaustion.  Concerned, his wife asks what had happened and frightened him so badly.  The man relates his tale, explaining his encounters with the faceless girl and the Nopperabo at the food stand.  His wife comforts him, telling him that yokai aren't real, and that he must have been hallucinating.  The man, relieved, begins to convince himself that his wife is right.  He looks up to thank her for her advice... and sees the smooth, white features of a Nopperabo.

Nopperabo are sometimes referred to as "Mujina" -- a word meaning "badger".  In Japanese folklore, badgers are one of many animals to which supernatural powers are attributed.  Badgers, it is said, are capable of changing their shapes -- and transforming into a faceless Nopperabo.  This is a source of much confusion; Nopperabos are imposters who may be impersonated themselves.

Read more about the Nopperabo:
Image from (public domain)

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