Hone Onna is one of the companions of Ai. She appears in all three seasons of Jigoku Shoujo. She is played by Aya Sugimoto in the live-action television series.
Hone Onna's appearance is that of a woman, specifically of Tsuyu, the person she used to be in her lifetime. Her actual age is not known, but she claims to be about 200 years old, despite not appearing to actually look as old, similarly to the other companions of Ai. It is also not known if she refers to the length of time she has lived as Tsuyu and Hone Onna together, or the length of time she has lived only after becoming Hone Onna when she claims her age. If the latter is true, then she would actually be even older than 200 years.
Hone Onna has black, long hair that she almost always keeps tied up in a traditional Japanese way with a decorative clip while wearing her kimono. However, when she changes her attire to something else, usually something of non-Japanese origin and of a casual style, she keeps her hair untied, or more uncommonly keeps it tied in a ponytail. The colour of her eyes are mid to light brown. She also wears red coloured lipstick.
Hone Onna normally wears traditional Japanese clothing. Her normal attire is a blue kimono with a dark blue border lining the opening at the top. She wears the kimono over a white coloured nagajuban. The obi that keeps her kimono tied is red in colour, and it is tied in the front, unlike the normal practice to tie it in the back. For her footwear, she wears a pair of white jika-tabi. She also wears some accessories on her hair consisting of a brown decorative clip that keeps her hair tied, a white decorative piece of cloth, and a hairpin with a red decorative ball at the end of it.
In Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori, her normal attire instead becomes a white kimono with a dark blue border lining the opening at the top, and some sparsely placed floral patterns on the white parts which looks much like the one that Kikuri sometimes wears on her hair when she wears her kimono. She wears the kimono over a blue coloured nagajuban. The obi that keeps her kimono tied is dark blue in colour, and is additionally tied with a red obi-jime in the front, once again unlike the normal practice to tie it in the back. For her footwear, she wears a pair of black zori over a pair of white tabi. She also continues to wear all her accessories that she used to wear on her hair.
In Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, her normal attire changes again to a blue kimono with a thick border running around the edges, half of which is coloured yellow, and the other half is coloured red. She wears the kimono over a white coloured nagajuban. The obi that keeps her kimono tied is magenta in colour, and is additionally tied with a yellow obi-jime in the front, in the same fashion as she did in the past. Her footwear has remained unchanged, but she wears a different set of accessories on her hair consisting of a red decorative clip that keeps her hair tied, a light blue decorative piece of cloth, and three hairpins, with two of them coloured golden, and one of them having a red decorative ball a little from halfway through it.
Among the many appearances that she takes up while working undercover, she seems to maintain two sets of appearance that she uses much more frequently than others. One of these sets consists of a light brown jacket over a gray top, a black skirt, and a pair of black shoes, which she wears with her hair untied. The other of these sets consists of a magenta jacket over a yellow top, a magenta skirt, and a pair of shoes with high heels, which she wears with her hair tied in a ponytail.
As a straw doll, she appears to be dark red in colour, with a red string tied around her neck.
Hone Onna maintains a mild manner most of the times. When she does lose her temper, its usually over simple things, but she never really loses her temper to a great extent. She sometimes expresses concern and sympathy about certain people and events, and she does this at a greater frequency than the other companions of Ai.
Hone Onna gets annoyed when she is called 'old lady', which Kikuri does on a common basis. She seems to like all of the companions of Ai, and Ai herself, but seems to dislike Kikuri most of the times.
In her lifetime, Hone Onna used to be a woman named Tsuyu. She seemed to be a geisha in the past, and was skilled at making paper balloons. She was brought in by a man named Shinsaburo, who later told her that he loved her, to which she expressed that she felt the same way towards him. After this, they planned to move out of town, and in the middle of all this, Shinsaburo revealed his true motives and betrayed Tsuyu. He sold her to a brothel for getting money that he was apparently in need of, after which he left without making eye contact with the teary eyes of Tsuyu, who was helpless at that moment.
At one point in her life in the brothel, she took a liking to a fellow prostitute named Kiyo. A man named Tetsuya had come to truly love Tsuyu while she was in the brothel. Later on, she thought of making arrangements for Kiyo to escape the brothel with Tetsuya, which she considered to be a place where Kiyo shouldn't be in. She put Kiyo before herself in this because of how much she cared for her, but Kiyo didn't want to leave until Tsuyu brought her back to her senses. On the night of the supposed escape however, Kiyo let her jealousy of Tsuyu get the better of her, and she betrayed both Tsuyu and Tetsuya by telling the owner of the brothel about this. Kiyo arrived to where the two were, but with the owner of the brothel and another man who the owner always gets the bad jobs done for her through. Shocked at the betrayal from Kiyo, there wasn't much Tsuyu and Tetsuya could do then but get helplessly murdered by the man as the owner and Kiyo watched.
After being heavily wounded, Tsuyu was thrown into the river by the man, after which the man and the owner continued to watch her drift helplessly. After a while, Tsuyu's body came across a bank full of bones and souls of other women who was killed in similar ways in the past and thrown into the same river, probably even by the same man and from the same brothel. The souls felt for Tsuyu and merged with her soul to transform her into a yōkai. This is how Hone Onna came into being.
For an unknown period of time, Tsuyu, now the yōkai Hone Onna, roamed the nearby villages in search of human company. But no matter who she approached, it didn't take long for them to notice her true form, which she had little to no control over at that time. As soon as they did, they would become very scared and run away from her, which made her very sad.
It was in one of these occasion that Ai found her, presumably after searching for her on purpose. Just like she did with her other companions, Ai offered Hone Onna to join her after a short conversation. At this offer, Hone Onna was at first skeptical and unwilling, but she felt something from Ai after which she decided to join her.
And thus, Hone Onna became the third of Ai's companions. She is also the first of Ai's companions who had ever been an actual human once upon a time in her life.
Since she became Ai's companion, she has become more used to her new self, and has no trouble masking her skeletal appearance with the appearance of Tsuyu. When she investigates clients and needs to use a name, she uses the alias 'Sone Anna'. One of the reasons for which she does this is because her actual name is not appropriate for a human name.
In Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, after the death of Ai, Hone Onna lived her life as a bartender of a small bar, until Ai's spirit arrived in the form of a butterfly to let her know of her return, after which she was recruited again, possibly by Kikuri or Yamawaro. For the rest of Mitsuganae, she served as a gym teacher at Yuzuki's school in Saigawara City. Near the end, she, along with Ren refused to come to the aid of Yuzuki, who newly and temporarily became the Jigoku Shoujo. Both of them strayed off instead, probably in search of Tsugumi to find out the reason for which Tsugumi was moving out of Saigawara City at that specific day. They correctly suspected that Tsugumi was leaving because she came to Saigawara in the first place with the wish to do something to change the fate of Yuzuki, and her failure to do so meant that she had no reason to stay there anymore. Hone Onna returned to being Ai's companion after she became the Jigoku Shoujo again.
While investigating the clients or antagonists of Ai's service, Hone Onna has the ability to magically change her clothes. She can create an illusion in the minds of people when needed to make them think that she is someone specific or someone else, or to make them think that they know her for a long time already.
At the request of Ai, she can transform into a straw doll like the other companions. As a straw doll, she is dark red in colour, with a red string tied around her neck. When told to transform into the straw doll, she usually tosses her obi-jime over her shoulder before transforming.
From the time Hone Onna turned into a yōkai, she also has the ability to transform and expose any or all the bones in her body. She often uses this to scare the antagonists of Ai's service. She has also been shown to be able to use her skeletal fingers to penetrate through human flesh.
On one occasion, she has been shown to be a skilled contortionist, when she was able to fit herself into a very small box. However, this may have simply been meant to create a comical effect, and may not be serious or real, because it was shown in a humorous way, and she has only been shown to try it once.
Although it has only been shown once, Hone Onna is skilled at throwing knife-like objects to attack. She has the ability to engulf these knifes in blue fire, which is often related to spirits and magic. When the knife makes contact, it also engulfs the victim in this blue fire and burns them. This fire is what does most of the damage, rather than the knife's penetration.
- Hone Onna's name translates to mean 'bone woman'. This is a reference to her original form and her ability to switch to that form.
- Hone Onna is based on a yōkai of the same name in real life Japanese mythology and folklore. This yōkai is also described as a woman whose true form is skeletal, and is said to take the guise of a beautiful woman.