The Goblin Spider

In Japanese folklore there are believed to be terrifying goblin-spiders. These yokai look exactly like regular spiders during the day but at night, when everyone is sleeping, they grow to an enormous size and develop supernatural powers. Goblin-spiders shapeshift and take on human form in order to do terrible things. In one famous tale translated by Lafcadio Hearn there was a remote Buddhist temple haunted by a goblin-spider.

Katsushika Hokusai

A brave samurai went to the temple with the intent of killing the spider. At first it appeared as a human with only half a body. Then it appeared as a priest playing a shamisen (Japanese stringed instrument). The samurai was suspicious but the pries assured him he was playing to ward off the goblin-spider. He then handed the samurai the shamisen which subsequently transformed into a thick spider's web and trapped him.

The samurai lunged at the spider, stabbing it, but it quickly crawled away leaving the samurai struggling in the net. Next morning the local people came and rescued him, and then they followed a trail of blood to find the injured spider, which they promptly killed.

Illustrations from 'The Goblin Spider' translated by Lafcadio Hearn, 1899.