Hello, and welcome once again to The Obscuritan. We continue our tour of supernatural Japan with a look at the Henge, or monstrous animals. Many of these creatures have whole volumes worth of stories associated with them, and would require entire articles each to do them justice, but for now a summary will have to suffice.
Often classed as either forms of Yokai or Bakemono, the HENGE are different enough so as to deserve their own category. Much like the Bakemono, the Henge are initially ordinary creatures of their own type. However, it is not extreme emotion that usually leads to their transformation but extreme age – usually reaching the age of 100 is seen as bestowing supernatural powers and a malevolent consciousness upon an animal. These powers are apt to vary from creature to creature, and in different regions such individual creatures may be venerated in dedicated shrines much like minor Kami spirits, for fear that they should be angered into a destructive rampage. ( Read more... )