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  • Writer's pictureS. N. Linn

Nukekubi (Japan)

Updated: Apr 16

An illustration of Nukekubi, a woman head floating above a torso wearing a kimono

Nukekubi of Japanese folklore appear as ordinary individuals by day, but when night falls, their heads detach from their bodies, soaring off in search of prey. They are characterized by their violent and insatiable hunger for blood, often biting humans and animals, injuring them, or fatally attacking them.

The origins of nukekubi trace back to Chinese folklore, where a similar entity known as "Luo tou shi" exists. Interestingly, variations of these flying-head entities can be found in the folklores of several Southeast Asian countries. Examples include the "Krasue" of Thailand, the "Manananggal" of the Philippines, the "Leyak" of Indonesia, the "Ahp" of Cambodia, the "Chee Sa Sone" of Myanmar, the "Kasu" of Laos, and the "Penanggal" of Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore, and finally the "Ma lai" of Vietnam.

Common themes emerge across these narratives: predominantly female entities living dual lives as ordinary individuals by day and eerie flying heads by night. Variations exist, with some entities separating only their heads while others detach their torsos. Failure to reunite with their bodies by dawn results in their demise. Dietary preferences also vary across folklore, ranging from blood and raw meat to even human waste. Stay tuned for more tales of these flying head entities across Asia in the upcoming posts on paranormal folklore and legends.


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About the writer:

S. N. Linn is a blogger and author of books on folklore, legends, and heart-pounding ghost stories and paranormal adventures. You can find more of her work on her website:

Copyrighted by Su Nandar Linn


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