Hitotsume Kozō (一つ目小僧 – One Eyed Boy) is a type of Japanese Yōkai. Should you run into this creature you will find one which has the appearance of a small child, however, they have extraordinarily long tongues and one large central eye in their forehead. They will be wearing a straw hat, geta clogs and a kimono. This appearance is thought by Kunio Yanagita, in his Tales of Tono, to have dervied from tales of Shinto Priests who devoting themselves to art, poked out an eye to better recieve godly wisdom.
They find their homes in mountainous regions, however, can be found wherever people live.
Should you run into one of these creatures, they will attempt to scare you by jumping out of the shadows, or if they enter your home (which is rare) they will knock over items or steal candy. All the while taunting you with their tongue.
Legends surrounding them from Shizuoka Prefecture state that in the months of December and February on the 8th of the month they will come to visit peoples homes. To try and keep them at the bay the people here place holly leaves up which would poke the creature in the eye. Additionally, they place baskets outside filled with white water from the washing of rice. People must also eat a meal of ‘sekihan,’ which is a mixture of steamed rice and azuki beans. This again is to ensure your safety, as if the creature pays you a visit and sees you are not eating the sekihan he will make a note of it and later your home will be filled with misfortune and poor health.
Another story surrounding them hails from a monastery upon Mount Hiei. In this tale we see the creature as a force of good as he is said to have appeared before a monk who was known to enjoy himself too much in the pleasure quarters of Kyoto and so the creature ringing a bell managed to get the monk back onto the righteous path.
In other regins it is said people hang colanders in doorways to repel them, as they look like lots of eyes and frighten them.1
1. Yoda, H & Alt, M. (2008) “Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide” Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd.
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