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The nabeshima, as it has come to be called, is a vampiric cat from the folklore of ancient Japan. It looks like a common enough cat except that it has two tails. The creature can shape-shift into a specific person and uses this tactic to get close to its intended prey. It chokes a person unconscious and then drains him of his blood. It will also engage in sexual activity with its victim and drain his life-energy as well. The last report of a nabeshima attack was made on July 14, 1929, in the Japanese newspaper Sunday Express. The article claimed that the vampire cat of Nabeshima was harassing the wives of the descendants of a samurai. (See ENERGY VAMPIRE, KAIBYOU.)

There is an ancient Japanese tale of this vampire that takes place in Hizen, an old province that no longer exists. The prince, an honourable member of the Nabeshima family, was in love with a concubine named O-Toyo. After a lover’s walk in the garden one night, O-Toyo was followed to her quarters by the vampire who killed her and buried her body beneath a veranda. Then, assuming the guise of the prince’s beloved concubine, the vampire visited him each night, draining him of his blood and life, much like a SUCCUBUS does. All methods to restore his health failed and it was finally determined that something supernatural had to be the cause. Each night all the guards stationed around the prince’s room would fall asleep, but one solider from the guard, a man named Ito Soda, offered to sit up with the prince one night, and eventually permission was granted. He stabbed a knife deep into his leg so the pain would keep him alert and awake. At the time when the other guards all mysteriously fell asleep, the vampire in the guise of O-Toyo entered the prince’s chambers.

The vampire felt the presence of another in the room, and made uncomfortable by it, was not able to drain the prince. For two consecutive nights Ito Soda stood on watch and each night the vampire was unable to draw life from him. As time passed, the prince showed signs of recovery, Ito Soda kept his vigil, and the guards were now able to stay awake. Ito Soda knew now that O-Toyo was responsible and tried to kill her one night, but the vampire dropped its guise and fled into the mountains. It harassed locals until the prince was recovered enough to lead a hunting exposition to hunt it down. He was able to do so and avenged the death of his beloved.


  • Bushm, Japanalia, 43­44, 202;
  • Dale-Green, Archetypal Cat, 106;
  • Davis, Myths and Legends of Japan, 264 ­68;
  • Howey, Cat in Magic, 173



Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology Written by Theresa Bane ©2010 Theresa Bane. All rights reserved