Supernatural and mythical creatures have always been an essential part of each culture. They were some of the reasons for answering phenomenal events back in the day where technology wasn’t around yet. A good example would be the Olympian gods of Greece and how angering them would ignite an earthquake or the occasional thunderstorm. In Japan, there is a group of supernatural or mythical creatures called Yokai. Yokais are mythical creatures that have originated in the old days. Their stories vary as there are literally hundreds of Yokais. Yokais can appear to be humans, humanoids, animals, beasts, demons, ghosts, and many more. Yokais are usually associated to be bad and evil as they kill people but there are also good and harmless Yokais. There are hundreds of them but only a few have solidified their name.
1. Yuki Onna
Her name translates to the Snow Woman. Yuki Onna resides in the mountains whether they’re snowing or not but it’s usually the former. Yuki Onna is a woman believed to be hundreds of years old but her appearance is that of a young-looking woman. Her skin is pale white and she wears a white kimono covering her entire body. She has long black her and her eyes are usually of that of a bright color either blue or yellow.
Yuki Onna can manipulate the snow and ice causing blizzards and snowstorms. Yuki Onna seduces young men to their doom if they are unfortunate enough to meet her. Yuki Onna is really a beautiful woman which is what makes her so irresistible luring men of all ages.
Tengu’s tale is that he was once a living monk. He was driven mad due to the realities he discovered in the world. After he died, he came back as a Yokai who hunts down impure people. The Tengu has two defining qualities and one of them is his trademark long nose. Tengus have a red face and a very long nose. Their other quality is that they have wings looking like those of a crow. Tengus usually target people who have been corrupted or pure.
They usually torture these people until they die. They appear in the middle of the night and capture their prey. Tengus does have a bad reputation and that’s because they like to feed on the heart of young women. Even if these women aren’t impure they target them anyway as their means of survival.
Kappas look like turtle-like reptiles walking on two hind legs. They have a turtle shell on their back and a bald shiny head with a sort of spike-like thorns on its head. Kappas are affiliated with water and they usually reside in rivers and streams. They target people who wander off into these areas. Kappas then dragged these people underwater and then kill them. Kappas have now made their way to the city residing in the sewer waters and underground pipe systems.
Their methods are still the same dragging victims underwater. There have been some Kappas that have a good reputation. In some regions in Japan, Kappas are viewed as deities granting good fortune to people. Their favorite food is pickles and offering one to a Kappa gives you blessings as well.
Oni translates to either demon or devil. They are considered to be guardians of hell and they usually reside in the mountains. Onis don’t look like the traditional devil as their appearance varies greatly. Onis look more like ogres sporting a muscular physique. Their body color varies from red to blue and anything else. Onis usually carry around a drum or a club which they use when fighting. Onis do have the classic horns on their head as well as fangs and sharp claws.
Oni is usually associated with abducting people from the villages. They are worshipped by people from the countryside in order to avoid getting abducted. On a positive note, Onis are also considered to be entities during festivals. There are some Onis that are being praised for their blessings in some regions in Japan.
Nurarihyon is one of the few harmless Yokais around. They look like old men with their heads extending at the back. Their head is also shaped like a gourd symbolizing its intellect with the wisdom it attained throughout the centuries. The Nurarihyon’s story goes that he will enter a house where the owners have left empty for the night or a certain period of time. Nurarihyon will then make itself comfortable at the house including eating all the food and drinking the beverages.
The running gag is that people will say “Curse you Nurarihyon, leave my house alone” after they have been visited by one. They are generally harmless but they are rumored to be the leader of a group of Yokais. It is said that the Nurarihyon leads the Hyakki Yagyo which means the Night Parade of a Hundred Demons.
Yokais is literally loved by many people in Japan. Despite Yokais being fiction in nature, they have sparked some fear and interest in the local and international scene.
Yokais can be as malevolent or harmless as possible. The number of Yokais stretches from a hundred and nearing up to a thousand. They have different backgrounds, appearances, lore, powers, and anything else. Yokais has made appearances in several forms of media offering various entertainments. These Yokais are either viewed as good or bad depending on the genre of the show. There are also Yokais that have a few stories and importance such as various members of the Obake group. The Obake is a group of Yokais that are makeshift ghosts of household items. These Yokais can be similar to sandals or umbrellas. There is also a large group of Yokais and some of them are as ruthless as can be. The Hyakki Yagyo is a prime example of a group of Yokais that have no similarities except the fact that they are Yokais. Despite the majority of Yokais being bad, there are a bunch of them that are good.