Edit – extended article for those who are coming from Instagram – scroll down and you will find even more monsters and spirits!
Known as KAIDAN (怪談), Japanese horror or ghost stories, have been giving some nice goosebumps over centuries already. The word consists of two kanji 怪 (kai) meaning „strange, mysterious, rare, or bewitching apparition“ and 談 (dan) meaning „talk“ or „recited narrative”. However, KAIDAN has rather old-fashioned connotations these days and has been substituted by an English word horā (ホラー, “horror”).
Back in old days though. samurai would sit in a circle by the fire of one hundred candles (hyaku means 100) and one by one they would tell a scary story. One story for one candle to be blown out. Once all the light is gone, the ghostly figure would appear! This sort of game was called HYAKU MONOGATARI which can be translated as 100 stories.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to cover 100 ghost stories here, but we can give you some examples of yūrei (幽霊, Japanese ghosts) and yōkai (妖怪, Japanese monsters and spirits) that you can scare your friends or even kids with:)
Check out these characters!
- The Akaname (垢嘗) literally means “filth licker” and it represents a Japanese yōkai stated to lick the filth that collects in bathtubs and bathrooms.
- The Jorōgumo (絡新婦) s a half-woman, half-spider yōkai that can transform itself into a beautiful woman when hunting for unsuspecting men to devour!
- The Mokumokuren usually live in torn shoji (Japanese paper sliding walls), although they can also be found in tatami floor mats and in walls.The name „Mokumokuren“ (目目連) literally means „many eyes“ or „continuous eyes“. Supposedly, this yōkai is considered to be one of the traditional inhabitants of haunted houses.
- The Yama-uba (山姥) look like harmless old women, but they are actually terrifying mountain yōkai that consume human flesh.
- The Yuki-onna (雪女) is a kind of snow spirit yōkai. She usually takes the life of humans who wander into her frozen lands.
- The Wanyūdō (輪入道, literally: ”wheel (輪) monk (入道)“), also known as „Firewheel“ or “Soultaker”. It takes a form of a burning oxcart wheel with a man’s head in the center and it sucks out the soul of anyone who sees it.
There are many and many more intriguing characters in Japanese lore. Do you know of any other? Perhaps from some spooky anime you have watched?
Let us know and share with our Japan-loving community!
And these are extra:
- The Amikiri (網剪) is a yōkai depicted as a cross between a serpent, bird or a lobster. It has claws similar to that of a crab or a scorpion and it uses them claws to cut fisherman nests.
- The Dodomeki or Todomeki (百々目鬼) is a yōkai that’s depicted as human women who are cursed with having long arms covered with hundreds of bird eyes due to their habit of stealing money.
- The Hitotsume-kozō (一つ目小僧) are harmless yōkai that take on the appearance of a bald-headed child with one eye in the center of its forehead similar to a cyclops.
- The Ittan-momen (一反木綿, „one bolt(tan) of cotton“) are yōkai said to wrap around people’s necks and cover people’s faces and suffocate people to death. In other tales these wrapped cloths would spin around and around and quickly come flying, wrap around people’s bodies, and take them away to the skies.
- The Jinmenju or Ninmenju (人面樹, human-face tree) is a legendary giant tree whose blooming flowers or fruits look like human heads.
- The Rokurokubi (ろくろ首, 轆轤首) is a type of human-looking yōkai, usually female, whose neck can stretch indefinitely.
Are these creatures creepy enough to you?
Which of all these legendary characters is your favourite?