top of page
  • Writer's picturejuju925

Japanese Mythology: Marriage Between Humans and Animals

Updated: Jun 27

There are many mythologies and stories about the marriage between humans and animals or spirits in Japan. It's so common to hear the wife was a crane, a mountain witch or even an ghost that when I first saw a faun in a book, it wasn't so special for me.

Tsuru no Ongaeshi (鶴の恩返し/The Grateful Crane)

After a man saved an injured crane, a beautiful woman came to his house and became his wife. Because the man was very poor, she weaved a beautiful kimono fabric for the man to sell so that two of them could live quietly. But the man wanted more money and asked her to weave more. She finally agreed but made him promised not to see her while she was working. The man became curious and impatient. One day he broke the promise and looked inside the room. It was the crane the man saved its life. The crane found him watching and flew away. She never came back.

Kuwazu Nyobo (食わず女房/Wife who doesn't eat)

There was a greedy man who told people he wanted a wife who didn't eat. One day, a beautiful woman knocked on the door of the man and told him that she wouldn't eat at all and wanted to be his wife. The man was very happy and two of them became a husband and a wife. The woman worked very hard but didn't eat anything. The man lived his dream but after some days, he realised there was no rice left in the house. He was intrigued and one day he pretended to go to the mountain but hid himself in the attic of the house. He thought his wife was eating secretly. The wife made huge onigiri balls and sat on the floor. She parted her hair and there was a big mouth on the top of her head. The wife threw the onigiri in the mouth. The man was in shock and made a noise. The wife realised the man saw her and she turned into a mountain witch. She grabbed him and ran back to her mountain to eat him!

Don't worry the man escaped safely at the end. But there are so many stories like these even for kids in Japan.

It's not only animals and witches whom the humans got married but also to a frog, an insect or even seashells. And one of the most common creatures that appears in the folklores in many regions is a snake. Considering that snakes are often considered as messengers of the god, it's possible that people had a fear of snakes. Also its mysterious image fits well with the mythology.

Hamaguri Nyobo (蛤女房/A Clam Wife)

One day a fisherman caught a huge clam. He thought, "it must have been very hard to grow this big." and released the clam.

Many days have passed. A beautiful young woman came to his house and asked him to marry her. She cooked very well, especially miso soup but she made sure that he wouldn't see while she cooked. But the soup was so good that he couldn't resist not to see how she cooked. What he saw was shocking. She was urinating in the pot! The fisherman was angry and kicked the wife out of the house. The wife ran to the shore and sobbed. Now she turned back to a clam and went back to the ocean. It was that huge clam that the fisherman saved its life.

Japanese have been nature worshippers and they respected not only the natural phenomena but also the plants and small animals. These stories teach us how Japanese people have been dealing with the nature.

Do you have similar stories in your country?

Related Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page