Gashadokuro (Starving Skeleton or Odokuro) is a skeleton-like creature from Japanese mythology. It is sometimes depicted as a mass of normally sized human bones that form into the shape of a large skeleton, or else shown as a single skeleton, which is much larger than a regular skeleton. It creeps around towns and villages at night, making a loud ringing noise. It is much taller (15 times larger) than an average-sized human. Its bones are said to be made from the bones of those who have starved to death. It is found in places such as battlefields, where many people have died. Sometimes the collective despair of the dead causes their bones to form into a Gashadokuro. If someone hears a Gashadokuro, their only hope for survival is to find a safe place to hide from the monster until sunrise, at which point it will disappear.. However, if their hiding place is not sealed and the Gashadokuro senses them in there, it will partially disassemble part of itself, sending the bones into the spots where an enormous skeleton can't reach, and killing whoever hides there.
After midnight, the Gashadokuro stalk unsuspecting villagers and civilians to bite off their heads and drink their spraying blood. It then adds their bones on to its body, making it even bigger and more dangerous. The Gashadokuro is said to posses powers of invisibility and indestructibility, although Shinto charms are said to ward them off. Many say it rises from the ground after midnight to wander through villages.
The earliest known mention of the Gashadokuro was in the 10th century CE, during a rebellion against the central government, led by a samurai by the name of Taira no Masakado. When he was killed for rebelling, his daughter, Takiyasha-hime, who was a well-known sorceress, took revenge on his killers by using black magic to summon a Gashadokuro to attack the city Kyoto.
In another story, a man who has killed many people walks outside to find piles of human bones outside his house. When he sees them, they suddenly come together to form a Gashadokuro. Instead of running, he simply stares at it. After several minutes, the skeleton vanishes entirely. This method of defeating it is not recommended.
In Popular Culture
- In the Super Sentai series Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Gasha Dokuro is one of the main villains who is described as cold, calm, ruthless and calculating. He appears in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, and Power Rangers Zeo as "Rito Revolto". A Gashadokuro appears as a giant monster of the day in the 3rd episode of the new series Shuriken Sentai Ninninger.
- In Youkai Watch there is a youkai called Gashadokuro but it is a reference to gashapons, which are toys from Japan you try to get from coin machines like gumballs.
- In one of the DLC episodes of the PlayStation Vita re-release Muramasa: The Demon Blade, one of the final bosses is a Gashadokuro.
- The Gashadokuro (usually referred to as "Giant Skeleton") is portrayed in varying roles of significance throughout the Castlevania series.
- In Hellboy: Sword of Storms, a Gashadokuro rises from the ground of a cemetery and rakes the ground to unleash many undead monsters on Hellboy.
- In Goemon's Great Adventure, a Gashadokuro is encountered in an early level while on a bridge.
- In the Studio Ghibli movie Pom Poko, the monster parade scene features a Gashadokuro.
- In AdventureQuest Worlds, the Gashadokuro is featured as the forbidden Beast of Chaos called the O-Dokuro. Kitsune uses the Hanzamune Blade to free it from a time rift.
- In Okamiden, there is a demon known as a Gashadokuro which resembles a humongous human skeleton with a fiery core and twin blades embedded in its stomach. There is also an armoured version which is much more powerful.
- In the manga/anime series, Inu x Boku SS, Roromiya Karuta is a Gashadokuro.
- In Kubo and the Two Strings, a Gashadokuro appears as an antagonist.