In Japanese folklore there is a yokai known as gashadkuro that take the form of skeletal giants. The name is onomatopoeic for the sound of their rattling bones and teeth. They are alternatively known as odokuro, which means ‘giant skull.’ This yokai is created from the conglomeration of the many vengeful spirits of soldiers who have died in battle and remained un-buried. The built-up anger of these spirits grows over time and they roam around at night grabbing victims and biting off their heads to drink their blood.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Be careful though, they are sometimes silent and even invisible. Because they are so large and powerful, they cannot be killed but need to just ‘burn out’ over time. The most famous tale of a gashadokuro tells of a samurai who was killed during a bloody revolt. His daughter was a sorceress and used black magic to summon an enormous skeleton from the bodies of the slain soldiers and instructed it to attack Kyoto. Some people believe that Shinto charms are able to ward off gashadokuro. Today, in the absence of war, and famine they are less likely to form.
‘Mitsukuni defying the skeleton spectre invoked by princess Takiyasha’ - Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

Shigeru Mizuki