目目連 Mokumokuren, the Sliding Door Monster
Many of Japan’s lesser ghouls have a lot in common with hermit crabs. They seem to wander around looking for empty shells to call home. Often these shells are discarded or broken household goods, like old slippers or umbrellas (we’ll be covering Japan’s infamous Old Umbrella Monster later), or parts of the house left to neglect (the dark corner of a ceiling or, in this case, a hole in the wall).
The Mokumokuren is such a monster. It’s the spirit that hides in broken shoji, the rice-paper covered sliding screens that serve as doors and walls in Japan.
Shoji are easy to damage and easier still to simply let go. It’s expensive and annoying to replace an entire rice-paper screen simply because it has one little hole in it.
But if you don’t patch up the holes, the Mokumokuren moves in. The name means something like “gang of eyes” and that’s because this monster manifests itself as eyeballs that fill in the holes in the screen.
Tales of the Mokumokuren probably came about because people with broken shoji would occasionally glimpse eyeballs peering through the holes in the rice-paper. Chances are said eyeballs weren’t really monsters, but were actually curious neighbors, ninjas, or just local perverts.
Some legends state that looking at the Mokumokuren could cause blindness, but if my pervert theory is correct, it was actually the eyeballs in the shoji that were doing something that makes you go blind.