The Best Japanese Yokai Stories | Spirit of Japan
The Best Japanese Yokai Stories

Culture, Japanese, Spiritual, Traditional -

The Best Japanese Yokai Stories

In Japanese folklore, yokai are creatures with supernatural powers. They can take many different forms, from animals to inanimate objects, and their powers can be both helpful and harmful to humans. Yokai have been a part of Japanese culture for centuries, and their stories are still popular today.


Yokai is a Japanese term that translates to "apparitions" or "mysterious creatures." It can refer to a number of different things, but they typically represent something supernatural. People may use this word when they're talking about folktales, monsters, fictional characters, demi-gods and more.

Here are some of the best Japanese yokai stories.

The Origins of Yokai

The word yokai first appears in the 11th century Japanese work Konjaku Monogatarishu. In this book, yokai are described as strange creatures that can take on different forms. Some yokai are benevolent, while others are malevolent. Some yokai can even change their form at will.

The first yokai stories were probably passed down orally from generation to generation. It wasn't until the 18th century that these stories were written down. The most famous yokai book is the Ehon Hyakumonogatari, which was published in 1776. This book contains 100 stories about yokai, and is still popular today.

Yokai have been a part of Japanese culture for centuries, and show no signs of disappearing anytime soon. If you're ever in Japan, keep your eyes peeled for these mischievous creatures!

The Most Famous Yokai

One of the most famous yokai is the kappa. Kappa are water creatures that live in rivers and lakes. They have a human-like body, but their head is that of a turtle. Kappa are known for their mischievous nature, and they often play tricks on humans. Kappa are water creatures that live in rivers and ponds. They are said to be able to drag people into the water, and they sometimes eat their victims. Kappa are also said to be able to steal people's souls.

Another famous yokai is the tanuki. Tanuki are raccoon-like animals that live here in Japan, and they are no make-belief creature. If you are in the countryside of Japan you will often see them along the side of the road. Because they are such an interesting animal in Japan there have been many folktales about them. The stories say these creatures are known for their shapeshifting abilities. They often use their powers to play tricks on humans. In some stories, tanuki even turn themselves into humans in order to deceive others.

One funny thing to note about tanuki yokai is that they are often depicted with extremely large balls. You will also find many statues of tanuki in front of shops and homes across Japan. They are believed to give good luck and help people propser.

One of the most popular stories featuring tanuki is "The Tale of the Bamboo-Cutter." In this story, a tanuki transforms itself into a beautiful woman in order to trick a bamboo-cutter into marrying it. The bamboo-cutter eventually discovers the truth about the tanuki, but not before the creature has given birth to a child.

The Scariest Yokai

bento box yokai ghost

One of the scariest yokai is the Jubako. Jubako are boxes that can be found in abandoned houses. Jubako are a type of “lunch box” that stacks on top of itself. While this isn’t scary, you will find many stories of inanimate objects that have become yokai through terrible circumstances. Jubako yokai are said to be filled with human bones, and they sometimes open on their own to reveal their grisly contents. Jubako are also said to be able to move on their own, and they sometimes chase after people who enter abandoned houses.

Another scary yokai is the Nurikabe. Nurikabe are walls that come to life and block people's path. They are often found in forests, and they can make it very difficult for people to find their way out. In some stories, nurikabe even trap people inside of houses.

One of the most dangerous yokai is the Gashadokuro. This yokai is known as "The Long-armed Omen" and it appears to be a giant skeleton that glows in the dark. . This yokai has its head down and scoops up people with its long arms. The Gashadokuro is a supernatural being that takes the form of a giant skeleton made out of human skulls caused by death in battle. It is about 10 meters tall and only has eyes coming out from it. Some depictions of it are said to be blinking yellow or green lights. The Gashadokuro is a Yōkai from Japanese folklore that appears at night and attacks people with its teeth. This monster apparently makes clattering sounds with its teeth when it sees a human. So if you find yourself walking alone at night in Japan and hear some chattering teeth, we suggest you run or hide!

Another dangerous yokai is the Oni. Oni are demons that are said to be very strong and very cruel. They often kidnap people, and they sometimes eat them. Oni are also said to be able to breathe fire, or even to transform into fire. Oni are the punishers of the underworld. There are many different stories of Oni and they are common to see as cute characters in modern day Japan. There is even a popular holiday in Japan called Setsubun when children throw beans to make the Oni go away.

The Funniest Yokai


One amusing yokai is the Byōbu nozoki (folding screen peeper) is a yokai who comes to haunt you if you leave your sliding door open at night. If you leave your sliding door open, the yokai will enter and stretch out on the floor in front of your bed. The idea is that as you sleep, he'll stretch himself across the whole room until he's been able to see everything. As its name suggests, a byōbu nozoki’s chief activity is leering over folding screens at the people on the other side—particularly if the people are engaged in romantic activities.

One more funny yokai is the Kappa. Wait! We already talked about Kappa. Well they are worth mentioning again. Because they are so famous they have been turned into many cute characters and can even be seen in popular kids shows. Although the origin stories are quite scary, they have become a cute popular story creature for many people in Japan. And they like to eat cucumbers. If that isn’t funny to think of the previous description as a cute creature in a pond munching on cucumbers, I don’t know what is.

Perhaps the funnies yokai is the Shirime, which very literally means “bum eye”. The Shirime is a frightening yokai with one eye that is placed on its buttocks. It uses this one eye to look for unsuspecting victims at night. When it finds someone, the Shirime drops it’s kimono to show the eye in its bum. Although it doesn’t seem to do anything more than this, it would certainly shock most people.

The Most Helpful Yokai

One of the most helpful yokai is the Kitsune. Kitsune are fox-like creatures that often take on human form. They are known for their wisdom and intelligence, and they often help humans in need. In some stories, kitsune even give people magical powers.

Another helpful yokai is the Inugami. Inugami are dog-like creatures that often take on human form. They are known for their loyalty, and they often help humans in need. In some stories, inugami even help people who have lost their way.

Kitsune and inugami are just two of the many helpful yokai. Others include the tengu, who are known for their wisdom and knowledge; and the kodama, who are tree spirits who can bless the land. There are many more yokai, each with their own unique abilities and qualities.

If you ever find yourself in need of help, don't be afraid to ask a yokai for assistance. You may be surprised at how willing they are to help.

The Strangest Yokai

One of the strangest but most beautiful yokai is the Kirin. Kirin are creatures that look like a cross between a dragon and a unicorn. They are said to be very rare, and they are often seen as a sign of good luck. In some stories, kirin even grant wishes to humans.

One of the strangest things about kirin is that they are said to be able to talk to humans. In some stories, kirin even teach humans about the world around them. In other stories, kirin help humans find their way in life.

Another strange yokai is the Amikiri. Amikiri are creatures that look like a cross between a lobster, and a human. They are said to live in dark places, and they often scare people who see them. They get their name from their love of cutting nets, or screen doors, so it is safe to say that fisherman don’t like them very much.

Perhaps one of my favorite strange yokai is Karakasa kozō.

Karakasa kozō is one of the most iconic strange yokai. Karakasa Kozo isn't so scary compared to other yokai. His favorite method of surprising people is by sneaking up on them and giving them a wet, oily lick with his long tongue. A bit scary, but it can't really hurt you. It's important to be cautious when it comes to this type of yokai though. There are other types of umbrella yokai that are dangerous, so it's worth being careful not to confuse these with this more playful spirit.

If you enjoy reading about yokai, you should absolutely check out There are countless yokai, and their stories with interesting photos. You may have noticed some of the photos from this article came directly from there. 



Sold Out