Monday, October 24, 2011

Jorogumo - The Spider Woman of Japan

It seems every October I run into spiders everywhere I go. They’re in my library, the grocery store, even in my doctor’s office! So, in tribute to these scary creatures, I’ve found the most famous spider story of them all – the Spider Woman.

According to Japanese legend, when a spider reaches its 400th birthday, it gains magical powers. In the case of Jorogumo, she has the ability to shapeshift into a beautiful woman.

Though many variations abound with her story, two are the most popular. One of them, most of you are familiar with - the grisly one. And the other is… ironically…romantic.

For you horror (or morbidly curious) writers, Jorogumo takes on her beautiful woman shape to lure her male victims into her home. Inside, she would play some music to distract them while she weaves web around her oblivious victim. Once she’s successfully trapped them…she eats them!

The other story is for you romantics out there. Romance and spiders go so hand-in-glove, don’t they? Haha!

In this tale, Jorogumo lives in a pool of water at the base of a waterfall, which is surrounded by a large forest where lumberjacks hang out.

For some time, there had been several mysterious disappearances of people who lingered too close to the pool of water. However, a tall dark and handsome lumberjack isn’t aware of them when he arrives at the pool to chop down some trees.

While he’s working on a tree, he loses his axe in the water. Needing it to finish the job, he strips down and dives into the water to retrieve it.

In the water, Jorogumo, appears to him in her human form and sees him in all his masculine glory and hands him back his axe.

The lumberjack is smitten.

Day after day he returns to the water to win her affections only to leave a little weaker with each visit. When the day comes that he’s too weak to return, he seeks out a monk to help him.

They both visit the pool one day and the monk points out the web that’s coming out of the water heading straight for the lumberjack. Once the lumberjack realizes she’s a spider and not human, he faces the cool reality and leaves.

Several days later he realizes he can’t let go of his love for her and inevitably, returns to the pool. At the water’s edge he’s trapped by her web and drawn into the water, and never seen again.

I've read many websites to find out the final details of the story. Unfortunately, I came up empty. If anyone knows if they live a "happily every after," please leave me comment.

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