It can transform into a beautiful woman, so the true meaning of kanji is 女郎蜘蛛 or "woman-spider", 絡新婦 ("enfolding newlywed woman") is just a juju-jikun reading of kanji.
Toriyama Sekien - In Gazu Hyakki Yagyō, she is depicted as a spider while controlling small fire-breathing spiders.
The Jorōgumo can be associated with several species of spiders, such as the Nephila (golden silk web-weaving spider) or the Argiope spiders.
Japanese-speaking entomologists use the word Jorōgumo (ジョロウグモ) in katakana to refer to the species Nephila clavata.
Jorogumos live solitary lives, both as spiders and as yokai. When a golden silk web-weaving spider reaches the age of 400, it grows to the size of a cow, gains magical powers and starts hunting humans instead of insects.
They build their nests in caves, forests or abandoned houses. They are cunning, intelligent and hard-hearted.
They see humans as nothing more than insects to feast on. Skilful tricksters and even better shapeshifters, they usually present themselves as young particularly beautiful females.
The most popular victims of the jsorógumo are young, handsome men looking for love. When a jsorógumo finds a man she likes, she invites him to her house, after which these men are usually never seen again.
They can create a thread so strong that it can drop an adult man without him being able to escape. They also have a powerful venom that can make a man weaker by the day, giving the spider the pleasure of making its victims suffer a long agonising death.
They can also control spiders smaller than themselves, ones that can breathe fire to burn down the homes of those who would suspect them.
The jsorogumo can thus survive for years, even in the middle of a large city, while hundreds of skeletons of young males pile up in its house.
An Edo period legend tells of the jsorogumo, a spider that can transform into a beautiful woman, and then seduce a man and lure him to a deserted hut. There he begins to play bivouac for her.
When the victim's attention is distracted by the beautiful melody of the instrument, she wraps her spider silk around the man so that she can begin her next feast on the unsuspecting individual.
The djsorogumos themselves are usually labelled as malevolent, but this is not always the case, for example, in Kasikobuchi they are revered as protective spirits who even save people from drowning.
"Things It's Better to Ponder Even in Pressing Times" ("Kifunaru Toki mo, Shian Aru Beki Koto", 急なるときも、思案あるべき事) tells the story of a young woman, who appears to a young warrior as a 19-20 year old. She says to the child she is carrying, "That must be your father over there.
Go there and be embraced" ("arenaru ha tete ni temashimasu zo"). Yukite idakare yo", あれなるは父にてましますぞ。行きて抱かれよ).
The warrior sees through the deception and realizes it is a Yokai. He attacks her with his sword and she flees to the attic.
The next day, they find a dead jsorogumo 1-2 saku long (Japanese feet (30.3-60.6 cm)) in the attic and the bodies of many other people on which the jsorogumo had feasted.
"How a Jorōgumo Got Magoroku" ("Magoroku Jorōgumo ni Taburakasareshi Koto", 孫六女郎蜘にたぶらかされし事) tells the story of Magoroku, how he was with the jzor gumo when he was taking a nap on the veranda in Takada, then Sakusu Province (now part of Okajama Prefecture).
Just as he was about to fall asleep, a woman in her 50s appeared. The woman said that her daughter had set her eyes on Magoroku and invited him to her estate.
There, a girl aged 16-17 asked him to marry her. As he was already married, he refused, but she just kept on. She said that Magoroku had almost killed her mother two days ago, but still visited her, and so she could not let her feelings get in the way of anything.
A confused Magoroku fled. The house disappeared as he ran and found himself on his own porch again. Magoroku's wife then told him that he had been sleeping on the veranda the whole time, so it must have been a dream.
Magoroku looked around and saw a small spider (Nephila clavata) weaving a thick web around the eaves. Relieved, he remembered that he had chased away a spider two days ago.
At Joren Falls, in Izu (Sizuoka Prefecture), lives the legend of the waterfall goddess Jsorogumo. According to local legend, there was once a man who was resting by the waterfall when the jsorogumo appeared and tried to pull him into the waterfall by throwing nets over his feet.
The man quickly tied the nets to a tree stump, which the jsorógumo then pulled into the waterfall instead.
The villagers then dared not venture near the waterfall again. Then one day a visiting woodcutter, unfamiliar with all this, tried to cut down a tree but accidentally dropped his favourite axe into the water. When he went down to retrieve his axe, a beautiful woman appeared and retrieved it for him.
"You can never tell anyone what you saw here." she said. At first he kept it a secret, but as the days went by, he began to feel the need to tell someone. Finally, at a banquet when he was drunk, he told the whole story.
Relieved of his burden and at peace, he went to sleep, but never woke up again. Another story has it that the woodcutter was pulled out by an invisible thread and his body was found floating in the water at the falls of the Jorene the next day.
In another version, the woodcutter fell in love with a woman he met at the falls. He visited her every day, but each time he became physically weaker.
A nearby temple's oso (Buddhist priest) suspected that the woodcutter had been "drugged by the goddess of the waterfall jsorógumo", so he accompanied him to recite a sutra. When a spider's thread reached for the woodcutter, the oso gave a loud cry and the spider's thread disappeared.
Knowing in vain now that she was a djsorógumo, the woodcutter still held on to her and asked the mountain's Achenu for permission to marry her.
But when the tengu refused, the woodcutter ran to the waterfall, where the spider-webs entangled him and he disappeared into the water.
There are legends in several areas of people being dragged into waterfalls by jsorógumo, and also mention of the tree stump as an escape plan.
In Kasikobuchi in Sendai, there is also a legend that tells of a voice being heard saying "clever, clever" ("kashikoi, kashikoi") after the tree stump was pulled into the water.
According to the legend, this is where Kasikobucsi got its name. The Kasikobucsii Jorōgumo was highly respected for averting water disasters, and to this day there are still structures and a small torii engraved with the words "Myōhō Kumo no Rei" (妙法蜘蛛之霊).
There was once an eel that lived in the bed of a waterfall and visited a man named Genbe, and the eel turned into a beautiful woman.
He warned the man that the next day he would fight the woman with the jsorógumo that lived there. She told the woman that her strength was nowhere compared to that of the jsorógumo and asked the man for help.
Genbe promised to help her, but the next day she became frightened and locked herself in the house. The eel lost the fight against the jsorógumo and Genbe died of madness.