Nurikabe

Ever feel like you’ve hit a wall and can’t keep going? You may have run into a yokai known as nurikabe. Translating as ‘plaster wall,’ this odd phenomenon occurs on roads late at night in the form of a huge invisible wall, blocking the way for travellers.  

Any attempts to walk around it, or climb over it, will prove futile. It is believed that if you tap the ground with a stick near the bottom left of the wall, you may be able to pass. Some descriptions of nurikabe are of a dark or invisible wall, but other depictions show it resembling an elongated creature blocking the way forward. 

Nurikabe experiences have also been attributed to tanuki, who are the notorious tricksters of Japanese folklore. In the video game Yo-Kai Watch, the character Noway is based on the yokai Nurikabe.

Art credits:
1. 'Nurikabe' from 'Bakemono no e,' ca. 1700.
2. Matthew Meyer via yokai.com
3. Yo-Kai Watch.
4. Tatsuya Morino.
5/6. artists unknown.

More images of the nurikabe.

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