A demon of ancient origin and numerous interpretations, the ama-no-jaku
is the very spirit of
contrariness and perversity. It is an invariably wicked being, usually depicted as a sort of smalloni
, which lives to torment and frustrate people. Sometimes it is said to be able to
read human thought, and instigate human desire, all the better to make sure people get exactly
the opposite of what they want.1
It appears famously in a rather brutal version of the folktale Uriko-hime, in which it devours
the beloved melon-princess on her wedding day, wears her flayed skin to impersonate her, and is then
found out and beaten to death.2
1. Mizuki vol. 5 2004, p. 6.
2. source 2.