Evil Spirits and Monsters in Japan

What is a Yokai?

Evil Spirits and Monsters in Japan also known as Yōkai are a class of supernatural monsters, spirits, and demons in Japanese folklore. The word "yōkai" Is made up of the kanji (symbol) for "bewitching: attractive; calamity:" and "specter apparition: mystery; suspicious". 

Yōkai range diversely from the malevolent to the mischievous, or occasionally bring good fortune to those who encounter them.  Often they possess animal features (such as the mujina, which is similar to a badger); other times they can appear mostly human, some look Ike Inanimate objects and others have no discernible shape.  Some are utterly bizarre with no equal.  Yōkai usually have spiritual or supernatural power, with shapeshifting being one of the most common. 

Most famous Yokaï


Tengu live deep in the mountains. They have a reddish face with a strangely long nose. They are dressed as mountain priests carrying a long, white stick, a sword and a fan.

Japanese yokai Tengu


Inugami or The Dog God

The dog god is an invisible and evil spirit of legends handed down in Shikoku, Chugoku and Kyushu areas. It is usually the spirit of a dog or a fox. A family haunted by this spirit is disliked by the community.

japanese yokai inugami


Neko-mata or the Cat with Two Tails

From ancient times, people have been afraid of cats because a person who kills a cat will be cursed. It was believed that the cats, as they got older, became fork-tailed and would change into "Nekomata", which attack people.

Neko-mata or the Cat with Two Tails

Yamanba or Old Mountain Hag

Yamanba is an old woman living deep in the mountains far from villages.

It is believed that she eats people walking on the mountain trails.

Yamanba or Old Mountain Hag

Oni or The Ogre


The ogre is a monster symbolizing evil things. Under the influence of Buddhism, figures of red and blue ogres in hell were popularized. The ogres described in folktales had horns on their heads, bushy hair and tusks protruding from their mouths. They wore shorts made of tiger skin, and held large metal club.

Oni the Japanese Ogre

KAPPA or Water-spirits

Water-spirits take the form of a child. They have a sharp beak, a dish filled with water on their heads and a shell on their backs. They swim using webbed hands and feet, and pull humans and horses into the water to suck their blood. They like sumo wrestling and cucumbers.

KAPPA or Water-spirits

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