The Nukekubi is a cursed demon from Japanese folklore, whose head detaches from her body while she sleeps to wreak havoc around town– from drinking the oil from lamps to the more extreme cases of attacking and sucking blood from its terrified victims. The head then flies home and re-attaches to the body before the sun rises. When the woman awakens, she has no recollection of the events came to pass during the night, save for some strange dreams. If the Nukekubi is aware of the curse, she will often wear a scarf during the day to hide the tell-tale lines or wrinkles around her neck, indicating where her head detaches at night.
This accursed state falls upon people– most often women– who commit some sort of sin or betrayal, though it also afflicts women whose husbands commit the sin. No one ever said demons were fair, I guess. What’s more, the curse can pass from mother to daughter, thereby marking the entire family for misfortune.
According to legend, the Nukekubi can be stopped by hiding the body from the head until sunrise, thereby preventing it from re-attaching. There are also tales that claim the cooked liver of a white dog can cure the curse…though it will simply pass to another that way (poor dog…).
If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have seen that I’m contributing to Ashley Warren’s wonderful Uncaged Anthology with an adventure that transforms the Nukekubi legends! I will post it here on the blog once it’s all complete 😀
Uncaged is going to be a multi-part collection of D&D 5e Adventures featuring unique re-interpretations of monsters, creatures etc., that have traditionally been female, cast in villainous and sinister roles. Check it out here, if you haven’t already!