Yokai – Monsters and Ghosts from Japan –

Yokai – Monsters and Ghosts from Japan –

Hello, this is Shinji from Warashibe Choja JP. This time, I would like to write about Japanese yokai, which were very popular on Instagram. Do you know the word “yokai”?


It is said that the word was introduced in the Nara period (710-794) to mean “strange phenomenon. Plagues, typhoons, and other disasters, which are now scientifically understood, were strange phenomena whose causes were unknown at that time. It is said that the people of that time changed the term to “a person who causes strange phenomena”.

Types of Yokai

Yōkai are also called yokai (monsters), mononoke (monsters), or mamono (demons), but when translated into English, yōkai are sometimes referred to as monsters.
Yokai = monsters in the Edo period (1603-1867), and my personal favorite yokai are often those that inhabit “objects”.

① Ghost lantern

If the lanterns are not cared for and left unattended for many years, they turn into “ghost lanterns. It is said to be a yokai that frightens people, but since the torn lantern looks like an open mouth, it may have been created by a rumor that spread at the time to keep children from playing outside at night.

② Gasyadokuro

It is a Japanese yokai that appears in the ukiyoe paintings of Kuniyoshi Utagawa. It is said that the skeletons and grudges of those who were not buried in graves gathered and took the form of a giant skull. It is said that this yokai wanders around in the darkness of the night making clattering noises and attacks living people, crushing them and eating them. It may be a yokai created from a story that was born to make sure the deceased are well cared for and buried, and to take good care of their ancestors.

③ Karakasa Obake

A yokai that is transformed into an umbrella when it is not cherished and thrown away. It may be a yokai born from a story that was created to convey the lesson that we must take good care of things. The Karagasa Ghost is said to be one of the most popular yokai in Japan.

Thus, some yokai may have been created to protect the culture of Japanese people who cherish their ancestors and value things. We hope you enjoy following us on Instagram, where we update other interesting articles daily.


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