Jorōgumo (女郎蜘蛛 "woman-spider") was able to shape-shift into the image of a beautiful woman, and is sometimes depicted manipulating small fire-breathing spiders. She seduces men, wraps thin in her web, poisons them, then eats them. In some myths of the spider-woman, she appears to holding a baby. When a man passes by, she will ask them to hold it. However, the men are shocked to see that the "baby" is thousands of spider eggs that burst open to devour them.
Jorōgumo is said to born when a spider, most commonly a species of orb-spiders (known for their circular webs), lives to be 400 years old. On it's 400th birthday, the spider gains strange powers, learns how to play music to lure its prey to it, and becomes as big as a cow.
She mostly lives near waterfalls, but not all the time. She is often seen as malevolent, but in Kashikobuchi, in Japan, she is worshiped as a protective spirit that will save you from drowning.
The Jōren Falls of Izu StoryIn the Edo period of Japan, there was a logger who was working hard. He became tired and decided to take a short break. He hears a waterfall nearby, and decides to sit by the stream and watch the waterfall where he would have his lunch.
No sooner had he got himself settled and was about to eat, he felt something stick attach itself to his foot. He pulls the substance off and looks at it, noting that it looks very much like spider silk. He sticks it on a nearby log. Soon after, he watches the log fly across the stream bank and disappear behind the waterfall. Realizing that the log was almost him, the woodcutter decided that it would be best to quickly leave. No one from the village ever went to the falls again.
One day, a visiting woodcutter, who knew nothing of the incident, tried to chop down a tree and dropped his favorite axe into the water. He went down to retrieve it from the basin.
At the bottom, he met a beautiful woman, who returned his axe to him. She told him to never speak of what he saw there. At first, he kept the story, but the urge to tell it grew stronger. One night, at a banquet, he became drunk and told the story. He felt a huge weight lift off of him, and he went home to go to sleep. He never woke up.
Some say that the woodcutter was actually pulled outside by an invisible string and his corps was found floating by the falls the next day.
At the bottom, the woodcutter saw a beautiful woman, who returned his axe to him. He instantly fell in love with the woman, and would visit her by the waterfall everyday. However, he physically grew weaker each time. The Buddhist priest (or Oshō) of a nearby temple believe that the woodcutter was "taken in by Jorōgumo mistress of the waterfall", and went with the woodcutter on his next visit to chant a sutra. When a thread of spider silk reached out to the woodcutter, the Oshō let out a thunderous yell, and the thread disappeared. Despite learning that his beloved was a Jorōgumo, the woodcutter still wanted to marry her and tried to gain permission for the marriage from the mountain's tengu (guardian spirit). However, the tengu denied him, which upset the woodcutter. He ran to the waterfall, where he was entangled in a spider web and disappeared into the water.
Kashikobuchi Story*NOTE* This story is very similar to the above story, except that it is also an origin story of how Kashikobuchi, Sendai got it's name. Kashikobuchi means "clever abyss".
In the Edo period of Japan, there was a logger who was working hard. He became tired and decided to take a short break. He hears a waterfall nearby, and decides to sit by the stream and watch the waterfall where he would have his lunch.
No sooner had he got himself settled and was about to eat, he felt something stick attach itself to his foot. He pulls the substance off and looks at it, noting that it looks very much like spider silk. He sticks it on a nearby log. Soon after, he watches the log fly across the stream bank and disappear behind the waterfall. A woman's voice could be heard from behind the falls saying "Kashikoi, kashikoi" ("clever, clever"). Realizing that the log was almost him, the woodcutter was thankful that this goddess saved him and the people of the village put monuments up in honor of the spider goddess that saved the woodcutter.
Later on, an eel that lived in the abyss visited a man named Genbe. It shifted into the form of a beautiful woman. The eel woman said that Jorōgumo of the Abyss was going to attack her the next day. The eel woman claimed that she didn't have enough power to defeat the spider goddess, so the eel woman needed Genbe's help. Genbe promised to help her, but his courage failed him. The next day, he locked himself in his house and refused to leave. The eel woman lost her battle with Jorōgumo, and Genbe died insane.
|Jorōgumo form xxxHolic|
Today, you can find Jorōgumo in many different places from stories to video games to anime. one such appearance was from the anime and manga series, xxxHolic, were she performs some gruesome acts through out the series.
|Jorōgumo from Escape the Night|
In a more recent rendition of this spider goddess type being, the YouTube Red Original Series, Escape the Night, featured Jorōgumo as one of the Sorceress' Lieutenants. SPOILER ALERT! She said she would take one female life for the lives of two men, but it was a trick and the two women that were voted to go to Jorōgumo's web were actually competing to save one of the men. She killed the guest that was not saved. The episode was the third episode of season two of the series and it aired on June 28, 2017.