Which could mean either binding bride or whore spider. In the Edo period, a few stories of the Jorogumo could be found. In many of these stories, the Jorogumo would more than likely transform into a beautiful woman where her original appearance is that of a magical 400+ year old spider that lives in secluded places like in the woods, empty houses or even caves.
She would seduce men into marrying her or just lure men into her dwelling either by using her beauty or her artistic talent of playing a musical instrument such as the Biwa. After the seducing or luring is successful, she would then bind the man, preferably a handsome young man, with her strong web that the man has no chance to break free.
Like most spiders, she would wrap the man in the web and wait for him to die. When he’s finally dead, the spider would then eat to her content.
Ao means Blue and Nyobo means imperial court ladies. Keep in mind how a Japanese court lady would look like in the old days and also when a Nyobo is married off to a worthy suitor, they would spend their time in their own private residence waiting for their husband or secret lover to come over.
Now an Ao Nyobo is a yokai that wears extravagant layered kimono which may look disheveled. She would have long black hair like most court ladies do. Stays in abandoned homes of fallen nobles and would always be found sitting in front of a mirror applying makeup hoping for a lover to come and stop her from the long wait.
But, because of her hideous appearance with red bloodshot eyes, black teeth, white painted wrinkled skin and high arched eyebrows, humans tend to get scared and either run away from her or attack her. In anger, she will then devour the men as a means of revenge or pretty women because of jealousy.
She is a beautiful woman who roams the streets of Shikoku especially in the Ehime perfecture at nights. In the veil of darkness, she seems like any ordinary woman just strolling about with her hair loose that seem to sway in the wind. But on closer inspection, the swaying hair has barbed hooks on its ends. If you manage to get close enough to notice this, it might have already been too late.
She wanders the street to find easy young men walking in the streets at night. She would smile to the victim to be and if the smile is returned, she will then attack. Her hair would seem like its alive and with lightning speed would lash out to the victim. The millions of hooks would dig into the victim’s flesh and her hair would quickly bind the man rendering him helpless. Finally with the last tug, she would rip the man into pieces which she would then eat happily.
She is a vengeful spirit that lost her child either because of famine or war. She is a tender loving mother that wants to protect any child that she can find especially lost children. But the scary part of her is that she has no face, this is where the word Mu in her name comes from which means “nothing”.
Though her intention is supposedly good, she would end up absorbing the child that she found while comforting them. When the child is unconscious that is when she would absorb them into her very being leaving nothing behind but memories that she obtained from the children.
My brother told me that he once saw a woman with no face when he was little, it was right inside a house we rented long ago just standing near a corner and that she turned her head towards him right when he saw her. Thinking that it was a ghost, he ran upstairs to hide and just let it be.
She is a yokai bound to the red light disctrict of the Edo period. She doesn’t eat people or even harm anyone, what makes her creepy is that she likes to peep on people in the red light district.
She has the power to stretch her body as high as the second floor of a building and would just watch or scare the people in it. It is said that the takaonna looks too homely that being in a red light district, beauty sells and homely doesn’t.
Due to jealousy and rage of not having work, dark energies consumes the woman and made her into a yokai with the ability to stretch her body which she uses to peep… It’s scary how simple minded this yokai is.