Artwork Title: Nuppeppō - Artist Name: Matthew Meyer


Matthew Meyer, 2013

ぬっぺっぽう The nuppeppō is a bizarre and creepy yokai found in ruined temples, overgrown graveyards, and other dilapidated or run-down areas. This creature is known for its revolting appearance and smell; it gives off a very strong odor of rotten meat. It looks like a large, flabby, roughly humanoid chunk of flesh about the size of child, with lumpy, undeveloped hands and feet, and vaguely indiscernible facial features. Nuppeppō appear usually only at night, and are not known to cause any particular harm or mischief, other than generally being disgusting. They seem to enjoy the nauseating effect their smell has on passersby. They frequently cause chaos and havoc by running around and disgusting people, and outrunning angry villagers who would try to chase them down and kill them. Nuppeppō are very rare yokai, and there are only a few records of sightings, though their grotesque form is well-known. Accounts usually describe lords sending hosts of warriors to chase the creature out of a castle or a temple, only to have it outrun the guards and escape, causing some of them to swoon and faint from its odor. Though it is passive and non-aggressive, it can move very quickly and is notoriously hard to catch. According to the records of Edo period pharmacists, its flesh imparts incredible power on those who eat it (providing they are willing and able to keep it down), and it can also be made into a powerful medicine with excellent curative properties. Though nuppeppō’s origin is mysterious, it is believed to be a distant relative of the nopperabō. Some scholars suggest that nuppeppō may in fact be a botched transformation of an inexperienced shape-shifting yokai, such as a mujina or tanuki. The origin of its name is mysterious, though it is thought to be derived from slang for wearing too much makeup, painted so thickly that facial features become indiscernible – just as this creatures features are barely discernible on its fleshy, fatty face.

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