Kami-kiri (lit. “hair-cutter”) (also Kami-kiri or kamikui) are ghostly spirits in Japanese mythology.
Kami-kiri is a large, black, bear-looking creature that attacks women from behind with a “mogaaaaa!” cry. It was later depicted with a human body and the head of a crow.
Kami-kiri are known for sneaking up on people and cutting all their hair off, particularly when they are unknowingly engaged to marry a youkai, spirit or other supernatural creature that is disguised as a human. These hair-cutting attacks are intended to delay or prevent weddings between humans and otherworldly beings, which are typically doomed to failure. There a spell to protect oneself from this that goes:
異国より 悪魔の風の 吹きくるに そこ吹きもどせ 伊勢の神風 (ikokuyori akumanokazeno fukikuruni sokofukimodose isenokamikaze) which means “When devil’s wind comes from a foreign place, may the gods send a counter-wind (from Ise; Ise is a strong Shinto area)"
People write down this spell in the entrance ( genkan ) and on things worn in the hair (combs, etc.).
- In the beginning of the Genroku Emperor’s time (1688-1704), people walking on the streets at midnight had their hair cut by a “thing”. These people didn’t notice that their hair had been cut until someone informed them. When they went back the same way, they found their hair on the ground.
- In the Edo period, a woman on her way to go back home had her hair cut but didn’t realize it. When she arrived home, her family informed her and she fainted. Kuro Kamikiri was responsible for this.
- In the Bunka Emperor’s era (1810), on the morning of April 20th, at Edoshimota (the name of a place in Tokyo, then Edo), a servant in the household of a man named Tomigoro Kojima got up in the morning, opened the door, and then felt a weight on her head. Suddenly, her hair fell to the ground! There was an accident one year before and someone’s hair got cut in a household called Kohinatashikenyashiki. At that time that person who had their hair cut, they felt so sleepy they almost fell asleep. This accident is written about in a book called Hanjitsukanwa , written in the Edo period.