Ogama

In Japanese folklore, ogama are giant toad yokai that are created when toads reach 1000 years of age. They live deep in forests and the larger they grow, the more dangerous they become. Ogama are accomplished shapeshifters, often disguising themselves in order to trick or attack humans and sometimes even taking the form of humans. One of their most distinguishing characteristics is that when they exhale, their breath is said to be rainbow coloured.

'Ogama' - Takehara Shunsensai in Ehon Hyaku Monogatari

Because Ogama live deep in the forests and mountains they are not often seen. However, if you do encounter one of these yokai, you'll need to be on your guard. Even small ogama have been known to chase after humans and attack them with spears. Once they grow larger, they begin to prey on humans for food and can use their long sticky tongues to grab their prey and drag it into their mouths.

'Monster Toad' - Utagawa Kunisada, 1857

There is a Japanese folktale called 'The Tale of Gallant Jiraiya' in which the hero Jiraiya shapeshifts into a giant toad. In many depictions he can also be seen riding on a giant toad. The story involves not only toad magic, but also a princess who is accomplished in slug magic and a villain who utilises serpent magic. I hoping to write more about this tale in the future.

'Fire Toad' - Utagawa Kuniyoshi, ca. 1850

'Actors and a Giant Toad' - Utagawa Toyokuni, ca. 1834

Magical Gesture to Summon Toads' - Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1847.

'Dance of Toads' - Tokuriki Tomikichiro.

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