1881: Monsters from the Kaibutsu Ehon

Aoi no Ue - Character from The Tale of Genji who suffers episodes of spirit possession

Buruburu - Forest-dwelling ghost that causes victims to shiver violently

Daibutsu-kaibutsu - Mysterious pile of crumbling skulls

Futsukeshibaba (a.k.a. Hikeshibaba) - Mysterious old woman in white who extinguishes lanterns

Hitotsume-bōzu - Monk with cyclopean eye

Kasha - Cat-like demon that descends from the sky to feed on corpses before cremation

Mikoshi-nyūdō - Monk-like creature that grows taller the more you look at it

Nekomata - Fork-tailed cat with a host of supernatural abilities

Noderabō - Strange creature standing near a temple bell

Nue - Chimera-like bringer of misfortune that can fly and morph into a dark cloud

Nyūnaisuzume - Sparrows flying from the mouth of exiled poet Fujiwara no Sanekata

Shiriyau (a.k.a. Shiryō) - Spirit of the dead

Shuten Dōji - Fearsome oni known for kidnapping, enslaving and devouring young Kyoto maidens

Sōgenbi - Fiery ghost of oil-thieving monk (based on Kyoto legend)

Tanuki-bō - A monk who turned into a tanuki

Tengu - Bird-like demon

Teratsutsuki - Mononobe no Moriya's resentment changes into a woodpecker

Ubagabi - Fiery ghost of old woman encountered along the Hozu River in Kyoto

Ubume - Ghost of woman who died during childbirth

Umizatō - Blind lute player who walks on the sea

Waraime (a.k.a. Kerakera-onna) - Giant cackling woman

Yamao - One-eyed mountain creature (possibly related to the yama-waro of Kyushu)

Yanari - Little demons that produce the creaking sounds heard in old houses

Yūrei - Ghost

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Goggles aficionado. Retronaut’s founder and curator.

3 Responses

  1. Melynda

    I’ve never looked into it, but I’ve always wondered where the yokai of Japan grew inspiration from. They seemed to have one for everything. I guess it’s a matter of the Shinto religion and the yokai are related to kami somehow? I really don’t know. I should actually look into it sometime.

    Reply
    • Jesper N

      Some youkai are evil spirits that have settled in nature or man-made objects. In Shinto, everything has a soul, or a god inside it. When an object is abandoned or mistreated, the god will anger and become an evil spirit in the shape of the object, like for example Karakasa, the umbrella monster. Other youkai are created from human feelings or unexplainable phenomena. If enough people are upset by a specific thing, that concept will eventually turn into a youkai that represent those feelings, and strengthen them. For example, there is a youkai that represents the feeling that you see something in the corner of your eye, but you don’t know what. Eventually, that feeling has become the youkai, so that it’s actually it you see(or think you see).
      A third group is humans or animals that have turned into youkai from very strong emotions(mostly bad ones) like jealousy, greed or suchlike. For animals, they can become youkai or gain magical powers just by living for a very long time, usually 100 years or more. The Kitsune(fox) gain an extra tail and more power for every 100 years, up to 9, when they start to recess for every 100 years. When it’s back to 2, it has pretty much obtained God status.
      There might be more kinds, but they’re always interesting and often very bizarre, so it’s fun to research about.

      Reply

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