Konaki-Jiji - 子泣き爺 (こなきじじい) - [Crybaby Geezer]
•About this yokai: a yokai that takes on the pitiful appearance of a small, geriatric old man, dressed like a newborn baby with an equally high-pitched cry. - Often found in places where one would not usually find children (notably in the wilds, mountain recesses, pumpkin patches, forests etc.) - One might mistake him as an actual child in need. - If a hapless do-gooder picks him up, they will quickly realize their error, he suddenly become heavier and heavier, a rock, a boulder, Then a truck… if you try to let go, its already too late, he will cling to you, eventually crushing you alive! – Rumour has it that he appears shortly before earthquakes or that his cries are so noisy that they can even cause them.
• History: an odd one out in that he does not appear in older yokai picture scrolls! Konaki-jiji as a yokai can be traced back in family records to Tokushima prefecture where rumours of an "elderly man that went around crying like a baby at night" was said to be seen in and around the Miyoshi city area (his reason for doing this is unkown but locals didnt like him much) Eventually, the rumour became used a 'parental threat' to stop naughty children from misbehaving: "If you do something bad, that [konaki-jiji’s name] will get you!!" - From there, It seems it eventually found its way into a "national encyclopedia of yōkai" where it became a nationally known phenomena. – The lore/idea of it as an “old man who is literally also a baby that becomes rock heavy and crushes you" was of course solidified & popularized in Shigeru Mizuki's, Gegege Kitaro. - where in he combined various aspects of a few other local yokai. - [in Yokai Encyclopedia, Mizuki also mentions that Konaki-jiji's lore was "a made-up story."] - it Seems that Mizuki combined the legend of the "old man" with a few other various yokai: (see also: Oppasho-ishi, Nure-onna, Ubume, Obariyon, as well as Yama-jiji in the case of causing earthquakes though the two shouldn’t be confused!) - particularly those with the trope of 'Decoy stone children that gain weight when picked up.' - (The exact origin of this 'decoy stone child' trope seems lost to time. As it is shared between yokai found all over Japan, (however it being connected to the "Oppasho-ishi" (オッパショ石) of Shikoku prefecture is a pretty solid theory.) - Konaki-jiji became a regular in the cast of Gegege Kitaro which was (and still is) insanely popular: thus the way mizuki drew him, became accepted as the folkloric norm and of course, the rest is history! - (Notably: His iconic nappy is also inspired by Kintaro, the folk hero child of the mountains.)
• Popculture: Konaki-jiji appears in anything GeGeGe related, so of course, he's featured a few times on Mizuki road. – recently Konaki-jiji appears in a lot public art projects, across japan including a yokai statue which was erected in Fujikawa valley near Miyoshi City (2008) in dedication to mizuki. (They also celebrate with a yearly yokai festival where in Konaki-Jiji is often one of the 'hosts' as well.) - in 2020 A park bench featuring an original konaki-jiji was erected near an ice cream shop in Fukusaki Town, Hyogo Prefecture as part of the "Specter Bench Tour".
He is also featured as an enemy in Nioh 2 (2021)
[image source, the statue in Fujikawa valley.
See Also: TsurubeOtoshi, Sunekosuri, BetoBetoSan, Ittan Momen, Nurikabe, Nurarihyon, Nure Onna, Ubume.
This Sticker art by @Samkalensky (yo thats me!) part of my hyakki yagyo night parade of 100 demons, yokai sticker collection! check my shop & follow @samkalensky for plenty more!