A creature which appears in Toriyama Sekien's Gazu Hyakki Tsurezure Bukuro
. It has a beastly head and an anthropoid body covered in paper streamers, and it stands in midair while it licks at the ceiling of a house with its long tongue. Sekien gives the following explanation:
They say the height of the ceiling devours the lamplight when the winter is cold, but it is not due to the plan of the house. Truly, at the deeds carried out by this apparition, one must shiver, I saw it not in a dream.
In this last of Sekien's monster books, there are many references made to Yoshida Kenkō's Tsurezuregusa
, and this page in particular has been linked to to part of stanza 55 of Kenkō's work, which reads:
As for the height of the ceiling, in the winter cold, the lamplight is dark
The houses of this era were made with tall ceilings meant for keeping cool in summer, but on winter nights they created a gloomy space which the weak light of oil lamps did not reach. Much like dark closets and the space under beds are the realm of monsters for Western children, the Japanese considered the dark ceiling and similar spaces the boundary between the house and the spirit world. So appropriately, Sekien implies that the darkness of the ceiling is not merely due to its height, but it is actively created by the tenjōname
books often describe the tenjōname
as the cause of stains on the ceilings of old houses, but this explanation seems to have first appeared in Fujisawa Morihiko's Yōkai Gadan Zenshū
1.Inada p. 273, Murakami 2000 p. 235.
2. "Tenjōname." Fujisawa Morihiko and Toriyama Sekien. Feb. 22, 2003. Accessed Jul. 9, 2008.