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Japanese Mythology & Folklore

Amaterasu cave wide.jpg

Mythic Texts and Folktales:
Kojiki | Nihon Shoki | Fudoki
Kujiki | Kogo Shūi | Nihon Ryōiki
Otogizōshi | Oiwa | Okiku | Urashima Tarō
Konjaku Monogatari

Divinities
Izanami | Izanagi | Amaterasu
Susanoo | Ame-no-Uzume | Inari
Kami | Seven Lucky Gods | List of divinities

Legendary Creatures & Spirits
Oni | Kappa | Tengu | Fox | Yōkai
Dragon | Yūrei | List of creatures

Legendary Figures
Abe no Seimei | Benkei | Kintarō
Momotarō | Tamamo-no-Mae | Sōjōbō

Mythical & Sacred Locations
Mt. Hiei | Mt. Fuji | Izumo | Ryūgū-jō | Takamagahara | Yomi | Jigoku

Sacred Objects
Amenonuhoko | Kusanagi | Tonbogiri
Three Sacred Treasures

Shintō & Buddhism
Bon Festival | Setsubun | Ema | Torii
Shinto shrines | Buddhist temples

Folklorists
Kunio Yanagita, Keigo Seki, Lafcadio Hearn, Shigeru Mizuki, Inoue Enryo

The following is a list of yōkai, obake, yūrei and other legendary creatures which are notable in Japanese folklore, mythology, literature and art.

Contents
0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

  • Aaimuzxi - a green cactus with rather large muscles.
  • Abumi-guchi - a furry creature formed from the stirrup of a mounted military commander.
  • Abura-akago - an infant ghost who licks the oil out of andon lamps.
  • Abura-bō - a spook fire from Shiga Prefecture, in which the shape of a monk can often be seen.
  • Abura-sumashi - a spirit who lives on a mountain pass in Kumamoto Prefecture.
  • Akabeko - a red cow involved in the construction of Enzō-ji in Yanaizu, Fukushima.
  • Akamataa - a snake spirit from Okinawa.
  • Akaname - the spirit who licks the bathroom clean.
  • Akanbei - a humanoid yokai who always has one drooping eye.
  • Akashita - a creature that looms in a black cloud over a floodgate.
  • Akateko - a red hand dangling out of a tree.
  • Akki - another name for a wicked oni.
  • Akkorokamui - an Ainu monster resembling a fish or octopus.
  • Akuma - an evil spirit.
  • Akurojin-no-hi - a ghostly fire from Mie Prefecture.
  • Amaburakosagi - ritual disciplinary demon from Shikoku.
  • Amamehagi - ritual disciplinary demon from Hokuriku.
  • Amanojaku - a small demon that instigates people into wickedness.
  • Amanozako - a monstrous goddess mentioned in the Kujiki.
  • Amazake-babaa - an old woman who asks for sweet sake and brings disease.
  • Amefurikozō - a little boy spirit who plays in the rain.
  • Amemasu - an Ainu creature resembling a fish or whale.
  • Ameonna - a female rain spirit.
  • Amikiri - the net-cutting spirit.
  • Amorōnagu - a tennyo from the island of Amami Ōshima.
  • Anmo - ritual disciplinary demon from Iwate Prefecture.
  • Aoandon - the spirit of the blue paper lantern.
  • Aobōzu - the blue monk who kidnaps children.
  • Aonyōbō - a female ghost who lurks in an abandoned imperial palace.
  • Aosaginohi - a luminescent heron.
  • Asobibi - a spook fire from Kōchi Prefecture.
  • Arikura-no-baba - an old woman with magical powers.
  • Ashiaraiyashiki(足洗邸) - the story of a huge demon that demands that its leg be washed.
  • Ashimagari - a spook which entangles the legs of travelers.
  • Ashinagatenaga - a pair of characters, one with long legs and the other with long arms.
  • Ato-oi-kozō - an invisible spirit that follows people.
  • Ayakashi - another name for the ikuchi.
  • Ayakashi-no-ayashibi - a spook fire from Ishikawa Prefecture.
  • Azukiarai - a spirit that makes the sound of azuki beans being washed.
  • Azukibabaa - azukiarai's more vicious cousin, a bean-grinding hag who devours people.
  • Azukitogi - another name for azukiarai.

B

  • Betobeto-san - an invisible spirit that follows people at night, making the sound of footsteps.
  • Bake-kujira - a ghostly whale skeleton that drifts along the coastline.
  • Bakeneko - a shapeshifting cat.
  • Bakezōri - a sandal spirit.
  • Baku - an auspicious beast who can devour nightmares.
  • Basan - a large fire-breathing chicken monster.
  • Binbōgami - the spirit of poverty.
  • Biwa-bokuboku - the spirit of a biwa lute.
  • Buruburu - a spirit that causes the shivers.
  • Byakko - the white tiger of the west.

C

  • Chōchinobake - a haunted paper lantern.
  • Chōkōzetsu - a man with a large tongue sticking out of his mouth, like a Chōchinobake.

D

  • Daidarabotchi - a giant responsible for creating many geographical features in Japan.
  • Daitengu - the most powerful tengu, each of whom lives on a separate mountain.
  • Datsue-ba - an old woman seated in the underworld who steals clothes from the souls of the dead.
  • Dodomeki - the ghost of a pickpocket, her arms are covered in eyes.
  • Doji - a spirit with white wings, accounted in European mythology as being like an angel.
  • Dorotabō - the ghost of an old man whose rice fields were neglected and sold.
  • Dozaemon - a yokai who resembles a kappa.

E

F

  • Fūjin - the god of wind.
  • Fukuko - spirit or creature that brings luck.
  • Funayūrei - ghosts of people dead at sea.
  • Futakuchi-onna - the two-mouthed woman.

G

  • Gagoze - a demon who attacked young priests at Gangō-ji temple.
  • Gaki - the hungry ghosts of Buddhism.
  • Gangi-kozō - a fish-eating water-monster.
  • Garappa - a kind of kappa from Kyūshū.
  • Gashadokuro - a giant skeleton, the spirit of the unburied dead.
  • Genbu - the black tortoise of the north.
  • Goryō - vengeful spirits of the dead.
  • Gotokuneko - a cat Yōkai who can breath fire from a cut shoot of bamboo. His name means "Cat of Five Virtues".
  • Guhin - another name for the tengu.
  • Gyūki - another name for the ushi-oni, the ox demon.

H

  • Hakutaku - the wise Bai Ze beast of China, who reported on the attributes of demons.
  • Hakuzōsu - a fox who disguised himself as a trapper's uncle.
  • Hannya - a noh mask representing a jealous female demon.
  • Harionago - a female monster with deadly barbed hair.
  • Hayatarō - the dog that killed the sarugami.
  • Heikegani - crabs with human-faced shells, the spirits of the warriors killed in the Battle of Dan-no-ura.
  • Hibagon - the Japanese Bigfoot.
  • Hiderigami - the god of drought.
  • Hihi - a baboon monster.
  • Hitodama - a fireball-ghost that appears when someone dies.
  • Hitotsume-kozō - a one-eyed boy.
  • Hoji - the wicked spirit of Tamamo-no-Mae.
  • Hōkō - a dog-like tree spirit from China.
  • Hone-onna - a skeleton woman.
  • Hō-ō - the legendary Fenghuang bird of China.
  • Hotoke - a deceased person.
  • Hyakki Yakō - the demons' night parade.
  • Hyakume - a creature with a hundred eyes.
  • Hyōsube - a kind of hair-covered kappa.
  • Hyōtan-kozō - a gourd spirit.

I

  • Ibaraki-dōji - the oni of the Rashomon gate, Shuten-dōji's accomplice.
  • Ichimoku-nyūdō - a one-eyed kappa from Sado Island.
  • Ikazuchi-no-Kami - a thunder god.
  • Ikiryō - essentially a living ghost, as it is a living person's soul outside of their body.
  • Ikuchi - a sea-serpent that travels over boats in an arc while dripping oil.
  • Inugami - a dog-spirit created, worshipped and employed by a family via sorcery.
  • Ippon-datara - a one-legged spirit of the mountains.
  • Isonade - a fish-like sea monster with a barb-covered tail.
  • Itsumaden - a monstrous bird that appeared over the capital in the Taiheiki.
  • Ittan-momen - a cloth-like monster that attempts to smother people by wrapping itself around their faces.
  • Iwana-bōzu - a char that appeared as a Buddhist monk.

J

  • Jakotsu-babaa - an old woman who guards a snake mound.
  • Jatai - an obi that has transformed into a snake.
  • Jibakurei 地縛霊, 自縛霊 - a ghost that is bound to a certain place.
  • Jikininki - ghosts that eat human corpses.
  • Jinmenju - a tree with human-faced fruits.
  • Jinmenken - a human-faced dog appearing in recent urban legends.
  • Jishin-namazu - the giant catfish that causes earthquakes and tsunami, blamed during the Ansei quake & tsunami. Here and Here
  • Jorōgumo - a spider woman.
  • Jubokko - a vampire tree.

K

  • Kage-onna - the shadow of a woman cast on the paper doors of a haunted house.
  • Kahaku 河伯 - another name for a kappa.
  • Kamaitachi - the slashing sickle-weasel that haunts the mountains.
  • Kamikiri - the hair-cutting spirit.
  • Kameosa - a bottle that never runs dry.
  • Kanbari-nyūdō - a bathroom spirit.
  • Kanedama - the spirit of money.
  • Kappa - a famous water monster with a water-filled head and a love of cucumbers.
  • Karasu-tengu - a tengu with a bird's bill.
  • Kasa-obake - a paper umbrella monster.
  • Kasha - a cat-like demon that descends from the sky and carries away corpses.
  • Kashanbo - kappa who climb into the mountains for the winter.
  • Katawa-guruma - a woman riding on a flaming wheel.
  • Katsura-otoko - a handsome man from the moon.
  • Kawa-akago - an infant monster that lurks near rivers and drowns people.
  • Kawa-uso - a supernatural river otter.
  • Kawa-zaru - a smelly, cowardly kappa-like creature.
  • Keneō - an old man seated in the underworld who weighs the clothes given to him by Datsue-ba.
  • Kerakera-onna - a giant cackling woman who appears in the sky.
  • Kesaran-pasaran - a mysterious white fluffy creature.
  • Keukegen - a creature made of hair.
  • Kibagurui - a nasty creature with sharp teeth, and can pull his entire body together to form a giant floating, fanged mouth.
  • Kijimunaa - a tree sprite from Okinawa.
  • Kijo - a witch or ogress.
  • Kirin - the Qilin of China, part dragon and part hoofed mammal, sometimes called the "Chinese unicorn".
  • Kitsune - a supernatural fox.
  • Kitsune-Tsuki - fox possession.
  • Kiyohime - a woman who transformed into a serpent-demon out of the rage of unrequited love.
  • Kodama - a spirit that lives in a tree.
  • Kokakuchō - the ubume bird.
  • Koma-inu - another name for the shishi, the pair of lion-dogs that guard the entrances of temples.
  • Konaki-jijī - an infant spirit that cries until it is picked up, then increases its weight and crushes its victim.
  • Konoha-tengu - a bird-like tengu.
  • Koropokkuru - a little person from Ainu folklore.
  • Kosode-no-te - a short-sleeved kimono with its own hands.
  • Kubikajiri - a ghost that eats heads.
  • Kuchisake-onna - the slit-mouthed woman.
  • Kuda-gitsune - a small fox-like animal used in sorcery.
  • Kudan - a human-faced calf that predicts a calamity and then dies.
  • Kurabokko - the guardian spirit of a warehouse.
  • Kurage-no-hinotama - a jellyfish that floats through the air as a fireball.
  • Kyōkotsu - the ghost of a corpse discarded in a well.
  • Kyūbi-no-kitsune - a fox with nine tails.
  • Kyūketsuki - a Japanese vampire.

L

M

  • Maikubi - the quarreling heads of three dead miscreants.
  • Makura-gaeshi - the pillow-moving spirit.
  • Mekurabe - the multiplying skulls that menaced Taira no Kiyomori in his courtyard.
  • Miage-nyūdō - a spirit that grows as fast as you can look up at it.
  • Mikoshi-nyūdō - another name for miage-nyūdō.
  • Mizuchi - a dangerous water-dragon.
  • Mokumokuren - a swarm of eyes that appear on a paper sliding door in an old building.
  • Momonjii - an old-man who is waiting for you at every fork in the road.
  • Morinji-no-kama - another name for Bunbuku Chagama, the tanuki teakettle.
  • Mōryō - a long-eared, corpse-eating spirit.
  • Mujina - a shapeshifting badger.
  • Mukujara - a massive, faceless creature covered in hair.
  • Myōbu - a title sometimes given to a fox.

N

  • Namahage - ritual disciplinary demon from the Oga Peninsula.
  • Namazu - a giant catfish that causes earthquakes.
  • Nando-baba - an old-woman spirit who hides under the floor in abandoned storerooms.
  • Narikama - a kettle spirit whose ringing sound is a good omen.
  • Nebutori - a spook-disease that causes a woman to grow immensely fat and lethargic.
  • Nekomata - a bakeneko with a split tail.
  • Nekomusume - a cat in the form of a girl.
  • Nikusui - a monster that appears as a young woman and sucks all of the flesh off of its victim's body.
  • Ningyo - a fish person or "mermaid".
  • Nobusuma - a supernatural wall, or a monstrous flying squirrel.
  • Noppera-bō - a faceless ghost.
  • Notari-bō - a very small humanoid yōkai.
  • Nowake-baba - an old crone that can blow strong gusts of wind.
  • Nozuchi - Another name for the tsuchinoko serpent.
  • Nue - a monkey-headed, raccoon dog-bodied, tiger-legged, snake-tailed monster which plagued the emperor with nightmares in the Heike Monogatari.
  • Nukekubi - a vicious human-like monster whose head detaches from its body, often confused with the rokurokubi.
  • Nuppeppo - an animated lump of decaying human flesh.
  • Nure-onna - a female snake-like monster who appears on the shore.
  • Nuribotoke - an animated corpse with blackened flesh and dangling eyeballs.
  • Nurikabe - a ghostly wall that traps a traveler at night.
  • Nurarihyon - a strange character who sneaks into houses on busy evenings.
  • Nyoijizai - a skeletal-looking spirit that does as they please. Able to stretch their arms great lengths.
  • Nyūbachibō - a mortar spirit.

O

  • Obariyon - a spook that rides piggyback on a human victim and becomes unbearably heavy.
  • Oboro-guruma - a ghostly oxcart with the face of its driver.
  • Ohaguro-bettari - a female spook lacking all facial features save for a large, black-toothed smile.
  • Oiwa - the ghost of a woman with a distorted face who was murdered by her husband.
  • Ōkami - a wolf-like creature.
  • Ōkamuro - a giant face that appears at the door.
  • Okiku - the plate-counting ghost of a servant girl.
  • Ōkubi - the face of a huge woman which appears in the sky.
  • Okuri-inu - a dog or wolf that follows travelers at night, similar to the Black dog or Barghest of English folklore.
  • Ōmukade - a giant human-eating centipede that lives in the mountains.
  • Oni - the classic Japanese demon, an ogre-like creature which often has horns.
  • Onibaba - the demon hag.
  • Onibi - a spook fire.
  • Onikuma - a monster bear.
  • Onmoraki - a bird-demon created from the spirits of freshly-dead corpses.
  • Onryō - a vengeful ghost.
  • Otoroshi - a hairy creature that perches on the gates to shrines and temples.

P

Q

R

  • Raijin - the god of thunder.
  • Raijū - a beast that falls to earth in a lightning bolt.
  • Rokurobei - a male Rokurokubi.
  • Rokurokubi - a person, usually female, whose neck can stretch indefinitely.
  • Ryū - the Japanese dragon.

S

  • Sakabashira - a haunted pillar, installed upside-down.
  • Sagari - a horse's head that dangles from trees on Kyūshū.
  • Sa Gojō - the water-monster Sha Wujing from Journey to the West, often interpreted in Japan as a kappa.
  • Samebito - a shark-man from the undersea Dragon Palace.
  • Sarugami - a wicked monkey spirit which was defeated by a dog.
  • Satori - an ape-like creature that can read minds.
  • Sazae-oni - a turban snail that turns into a woman.
  • Seiryū - the azure dragon of the east.
  • Seko - a kind of kappa, that can be heard making merry at night.
  • Senpoku-Kanpoku - a human-faced frog that guides the souls of the newly deceased to the graveyard.
  • Sesshō-seki - the poisonous "killing stones" which Tamamo-no-Mae transformed into.
  • Setotaishō - a warrior composed of discarded earthenware.
  • Shachihoko - a tiger-headed fish whose image is often used in architecture.
  • Shibaten - a kind of kappa from Shikoku.
  • Shikigami - a spirit summoned to do the bidding of an Onmyōji.
  • Shiki-ōji - another name for a shikigami.
  • Shikome - wild women sent by Izanami to harm Izanagi.
  • Shin 蜃 - a giant clam that creates mirages.
  • Shinigami - the "god of death", the Japanese Grim Reaper.
  • Shirime - (尻目) an apparition in the shape of a man having an eye in the place of his anus.
  • Shiro-bōzu - a white, faceless spirit.
  • Shiro-uneri - an old, rotten dishcloth appearing in the form of a dragon.
  • Shiryō - the spirit of a dead person.
  • Shisa - the Okinawan version of the shishi.
  • Shishi - the paired lion-dogs that guard the entrances of temples.
  • Shōjō - red-haired sea-sprites who love alcohol.
  • Shōkera - a creature that peers in through skylights.
  • Shōki - the fabled demon-queller Zhong Kui.
  • Shu no Bon - a red-faced ghoul that surprises people.
  • Shuten-dōji - an infamous princess-kidnapping, bloodthirsty oni.
  • Sodehiki-kozō - an invisible spirit that pulls on sleeves.
  • Sōjōbō - the famous daitengu of Mount Kurama.
  • Sōgenbi - the fiery ghost of an oil-stealing monk.
  • Son Gokū - the monkey king Sun Wukong from Journey to the West.
  • Soragami - a ritual disciplinary demon in the form of a tengu.
  • Soraki-gaeshi - the sound of trees being cut down, when later none seem to have been cut.
  • Sorobanbōzu - a ghost with an abacus.
  • Sōtangitsune - a famous fox from Kyoto.
  • Sunakake-baba - the sand-throwing hag.
  • Sunekosuri - a small dog- or cat-like creature that rubs against a person's legs at night
  • Suppon-no-yūrei - a ghost with a face like a soft-shelled turtle.
  • Suzaku - the vermilion bird of the south.

T

  • Taimatsumaru - a tengu surrounded in demon fire.
  • Taka-onna - a female spirit that can stretch itself to peer into the second story of a building.
  • Tamamo-no-Mae - a wicked nine-tailed fox who appeared as a courtesan.
  • Tankororin - an unharvested persimmon which becomes a monster.
  • Tantanbō - a massive stone head with glowing eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth. His saliva can turn anything into stone.
  • Tanuki - a shapeshifting raccoon dog.
  • Tatami-tataki - a poltergeist that hits the tatami mats at night.
  • Tengu - the infamous bird-man demon of the mountains.
  • Tenjōname - the ceiling-licking spirit.
  • Tennin - a heavenly being.
  • Te-no-me - the ghost of a blind man, with his eyes on his hands.
  • Tesso - the ghost of the priest Raigō, who transformed into a swarm of rats.
  • Tōfu-kozō - a spirit child carrying a block of tofu.
  • Toire no Hanako-san - a ghost who lurks in grade school restroom stalls.
  • Tōtetsu - the Taotie monster of China.
  • Tsurara-onna - an icicle woman.
  • Tsuchigumo - a giant spider that was defeated by Minamoto no Raikō.
  • Tsuchikorobi - a tumbling monster that rolls over travelers.
  • Tsuchinoko - a legendary serpentine monster, now a cryptid resembling a fat snake.
  • Tsukumogami - inanimate objects that come to life after a hundred years.
  • Tsurube-otoshi - a monster that drops out of the tops of trees.

U

  • Ubume - the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth.
  • Uma-no-ashi - a horse's leg that dangles from a tree and kicks passersby.
  • Umibōzu - a giant monster appearing on the surface of the sea.
  • Umi-nyōbō - a female sea monster who steals fish.
  • Ungaikyō - a mirror monster that can display assorted wonders in its surface.
  • Ushi-oni - a name given to an assortment of ox-headed monsters.
  • Uwan - a spirit named for the sound it shouts when surprising people.

V

W

  • Wani - a water monster comparable to an alligator or crocodile. A related word has been applied to the Indo-Pacific or Saltwater crocodile.
  • Wanyūdō - a flaming wheel with a man's head in the center, that sucks out the soul of anyone who sees it.

X

Y

  • Yagyō-san - a demon who rides through the night on a headless horse.
  • Yakubyō-gami - spirits who bring plagues and other unfortunate events.
  • Yadōkai - monks who have turned to mischief.
  • Yamaarashi - a supernatural porcupine.
  • Yama-biko - a creature that creates echoes.
  • Yama-bito - the wild people who live in the mountains.
  • Yama-chichi - a mountain spirit resembling a monkey.
  • Yama-inu - the fearsome mountain dog.
  • Yama-jijii - a humanoid with a head like a large rock, with one eyeball and a constant smile. Often lives in the trees in the mountains.
  • Yama-otoko - the giant mountain man.
  • Yama-oroshi - a radish-grater spirit, a pun on a word for "mountain storm".
  • Yamata no Orochi - the eight-headed serpent slain by the god Susanoo.
  • Yama-uba - the mountain hag.
  • Yama-waro - a hairy, one-eyed spirit, sometimes considered a kappa who has gone into the mountains for the winter.
  • Yanari - poltergeists that cause strange noises.
  • Yatagarasu - the three-legged crow of Amaterasu.
  • Yato-no-kami - deadly snake-gods which infested a field.
  • Yobuko - Mountain dwelling spirit.
  • Yomotsu-shikome - the hags of the underworld.
  • Yōsei - the Japanese word for "fairy".
  • Yosuzume - a mysterious bird that sings at night, sometimes indicating that the okuri-inu is near.
  • Yukinko - a child-like snow-spirit.
  • Yuki-onna - the snow woman.

Z

See also

External links

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