Rokuro-kubi A mythic creature whose head loosens from the body to wander in the dark of night. The neck may either elongate or lacerate.
Once upon a time, there lived a lone, young man in the city of Edo, who spent his days dreaming of finding a beauteous girl to marry. For an unprepossessing commoner like him though, this was rather an ambitious wish to have, since when it came to choosing a spouse, the assertive and self-reliant Edo girls made sure that they were the ones with the upper hand. Some girls even chose the life of a wealthy man’s mistress over setting up a home with a skint Edo man.
So, had this story not been set in the land of multitudinous gods, I guess the narrative would have ended right here. Luckily for this young man, the saying has it that, when one god deserts you, another one will pick you up. And so it was that a well-meaning landlord of the tenement came by to offer him news of a prospective bride.
“The one requisite for this union is that you must marry into her family,” said the landlord. “As the only daughter of a wealthy merchant family, she needs to produce an heir to preserve the lineage. A willowy girl of sweet temperament; I do think that you’ll make a perfect husband for her. I must inform you though, that she is troubled by a malady of a peculiar sort.”
When the landlord tried to elaborate on her condition, the ecstatic young man cut him short by declaring that his unwavering love and loyalty will overcome the most serious of ailments. After all, living the high life in a palatial residence sounded so much better than remaining stuck in this hovel of six tatami mats.
And so in a whirlwind he tied the knot to a beautiful bride. He was overjoyed, all the more so because, as hard he looked, he could find but not a single flaw in her. That was, until he woke up unawares in the deep darkness of the wedding night.
Unaccustomed to the luxury of a soft, silky futon, the man found himself awake. Turning to his side, he felt let down at first when the countenance of his charming bride could not be located. Instead, what he saw with his squinting eyes was a headless, frigid body from which grew out a serpentine cord that stretched way beyond the window half open.
Terrified, the man bolted out of the residence and headed straight to the landlord’s home, determined to put the matchmaker through a rigorous catechism.
“What were you thinking,” reproached the young man, “hitching me with a rokuro-kubi!”
“But I tried to warn you of her flaw. You wouldn’t listen,” said the landlord unrepentantly. “And anyway, I don’t understand what the big fuss is about. If you can sleep soundly through the night, clearly there is no seeable problem.”
“Besides,” he continued, “now that you have shared bed with her, don’t you think it’s too late to back out? You’ll be sued for damage. Stop whining and go back home.”
“I can’t go back now!” cried the young man. “She’s certain to be furious at me for bunking off.”
“Don’t be silly,” cajoled the landlord; “she’ll be waiting for your return.”
“Oh, and how exactly will she be waiting?” asked the young man.
“Obviously, she’ll be craning her neck to catch the sight of your return home.”
A classic, comic tale (rakugo) of “Rokuro-kubi”
#The photo above was taken at a rice field close-by. The scarecrow was clearly set to accomplish a double purpose as it was fixated to face the pedestrians.