Bone Woman; Skeleton Woman


Yokai; Obake; Vampire



Men see a beautiful, alluringly dressed woman provocatively walking the streets and assume that she is a streetwalker. In fact, she is not averse to a sexual relationship and may even initiate the tryst. She doesn’t want money, though. What Hone-Onna seeks are lives. She is, in fact, not a prostitute nor is her beauty real. It is an illusion, a magical glamour that she is able to cast in order to veil her true identity. Hone-Onna is really an animated skeleton dressed in sexy clothes. She is a vampire but not the blood-sucking kind. Hone-Onna drains men of their vital life essence during sex, leaving them desperately weakened, ill or even dead.

Maintaining the illusion of herself as a flesh-covered beauty may tire her. Once the man has been entrapped or after sex is over, Hone-Onna usually abandons the illusion, allowing her true skeletal form to show.

Hone-Onna is a creature of the Yin world, the world of ghosts. She craves yang energy, absorbed via sexual intercourse with men. She is not otherwise aggressive, although she can be scary. Hone-Onna may chase away those who do not serve her purposes such as women or men already in a weakened state by allowing her true form to be seen. Generally, people freak out and flee, allowing Hone-Onna to hunt for more desirable victims.

Once engaged in sex with her, there is little one can do to protect oneself. The best course is avoidance. (Hone-Onna solicits and seduces but she does not rape. Her victims are initially willing.) Stories of Hone-Onna are used as cautionary tales to encourage young men to avoid prostitutes or at least unfamiliar ones.

Hone-Onna is among the Yokai portrayed by 18th century artist Toriyama Sekien. She is a major and sympathetic character in the 21st century Japanese anime Hell Girl, which creates a mythos for her. Originally an abused, exploited, and finally murdered woman, Hell Girl’s Hone-Onna becomes a vampiric Yokai en route to becoming a sometimes compassionate spirit of justice and vengeance.


Hone-Onna may temporarily appear as a beautiful woman but eventually reveals herself as a skeleton instead. Alternatively, parts of her body may retain the guise of living flesh while other parts appear cadaverous with visible bones and rotting flesh.


Aisba Qandisba; Diablesse; Harionna; Hel; Hsi Wang Mu; Huli-Jing; Kuchisuke-Onna; Obake; Vampire; Wanyudo; Yokai; Yuki Onna


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.