Today I introduce to you another Japanese Yokai member. Wanyudo! The earliest reports about Wanyudo go all the way back to the Heian period. Wanyudo is an evil and dangerous spirit. When we translate “Wa nyūdō” we get “wheel monk”. Seeing it like that, without any explanation, it sounds pretty funny. And, it is quite hard to imagine it. People usually refer to Wanyudo as “Firewheel” or “soul taker”. Putting it like that really does sound more serious than wheel monk. Maybe you already heard something about him because this creature is quite well-known among Japanese Mythology. Nevertheless, if you are interested, keep reading and find out some of his basic traits.
See also: Ashinaga Tenaga – A Pair of Yokai Creatures
Wanyudo appearance and behavior
Wanyudo appears in the shape of oxcart wheel that is on fire. And, in the middle of the wheel is a trapped head of an angry, tormented man. The addition of “monk” in his name is because the man’s head is shaved just like monk’s. Many assume that this head is the head of a monk that is punished because of his sins. But, on the other hand, some say that Wanyudo is the condemned soul of a tyrannical daimyō. Anyhow, no matter whose spirit he is, everyone agrees on the fact that he is the one who guards the doors of hell. Not only this, but he also comes back from the underworld to take other evil, but living souls. Although, he does take souls of other people from time to time. Yes, Wanyudo is a creature you should be scared.
He is a truly sadistic creature. This Yokai takes all of the pain that his flaming wheel puts on him and he releases it on to others. Especially on to other evil souls, as we already mentioned. These souls are then taken to hell to be judged and damned. Also, he sometimes hunts down people and then rips their limbs off. They are most likely to appear on the roads, mountain passes and sometimes villages. If you live near these places, be careful and prepared. Wanyudo might come for you.
How to protect yourself from Wanyudo?
If the last two sentences of the last paragraph scared you, don’t worry. There is still a way to keep yourself safe from him. So, what can you? You can hide. It’s nothing much since he is one of the most dangerous yokai from Japanese mythology. But, it’s still something. And, when I say hide, I mean don’t go out near the road or mountain pass at night. Stay at home and close all the doors and windows. Just to be safe, don’t even come near the window. Even one look from this creature can harm you. Some people take extra caution and put prayer charms all around their home. Here, now you know what are your choices. Good luck!
One of the most famous tales of this yokai is the one where he surprisingly leaves one of his victims alive. There was one woman who accidentally looked out of her window. At the same moment, Wanyudo was just passing by. As he spotted her, he also spotted that she had a child with her. He then said: “Instead of looking at me, have a look at your own child!”. The woman automatically reacted. But, as she looked at her baby she saw him lying in blood with both of his legs torn apart. Wanyudo was eating them. Yes, he left the woman alive, but seeing the whole picture, that might be even bigger punishment.
Wanyudo appears in other legends and myths as well. Many connect this creature with Buddhism and its symbols. One story from Greek mythology also has Wanyudo looking figure (Ixion, a King of the Lapiths).
See also: Gashadokuro – The Japanese Mythological Creature
Your thoughts about Wanyudo?
So, what do you think about Wanyudo? Do you have any theories about him? Or, maybe you already heard about him and know something we don’t. Feel free to share any details or tales about this creature in the comment section below. I’m also wondering are there any movies, series, animes or mangas that feature Wanyudo figure. It would be quite interesting to see how would they represent his character and power.