Yokai Explained!


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An exclusive and original t-shirt was in October’s Halloween-themed Doki Doki Crate that featured several well known Japanese yokai. Yokai (妖怪) are monsters, demons, and ghosts that come from Japanese folklore. Let’s take a look at the yokai behind the inspiration of the design!

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Nekomusume (猫娘)

This yokai comes from a story about a rich merchant with a beautiful daughter. However, the daughter had a very strange habit of licking things. When she would lick a person, they would be surprised at how rough her tongue was! Rumors about her true parentage began to circulate. Could it be that her father is a cat demon? Or were her parents cursed by a cat demon?

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Kasa-Obake (傘おばけ)

Not particularly scary, the kasa-obake is a possessed umbrella that hops about on one or two legs. This yokai is a type of tsukumogami (付喪神), yokais that are born from old objects. As the items that humans use get older, they become apparitions. In Japanese culture, the kasa-obake is often found in haunted houses with other tsukumogami.

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Wa Nyūdō (輪入道)

As servants of hell, wa nyūdō spend their time looking for wicked people. They’re always in pain due to the flames of the wheel, so they like to inflict pain on others. In order to redeem themselves of their sins from their past lives, the wa nyūdō keeps searching for more people to bring back to hell.

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Jorōgumo (絡新婦)

Scared of spiders? The jorōgumo is a spider that on average is 2-3 centimers long but can grow to much larger sizes. It is said that when a jorōgumo gets to be 400 years old, it grows into a beautiful woman that feeds on humans. Her favorite prey is handsome young men. Once she lures a man to an abandoned house, she will spin silken threads to wrap him in and will slowly drain his life.

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Futakuchi Onna (二口女)

When a woman says she’s eating for two, it usually means she’s pregnant. In the case of the futakuchi onna, or two mouthed woman, she’s referring to the mouth on the back of her head. There are many stories about how one becomes a futakuchi onna. The most known is the story of a step-mother who wickedly only fed her daughter and let her step-daughter starve to death. One day, she woke up with a terrible headache only to find that the back of her head split open into a ghastly mouth. The mouth screamed with the voice of the dead step-daughter. The step-mother had to live the rest of her life feeding both mouths and living with the constant hunger that her step-daughter endured.

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Yūrei (幽霊)

Ghosts that plague Japan are called yūrei. Usually appearing in burial kimono or uniforms, yūrei haunt specific grounds or people. They will haunt this world until they are put to rest and often haunt areas were they were killed or people who scorned them in their past life. When a person dies, if they are not given a proper burial or if they had unfinished busiess, their soul does not pass on to join their ancestors in the next world.

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Rokurokubi (轆轤首)

If your lamp’s low on oil, it could be because of a rokurokubi. During the day, they seem like normal women but one they lay down to sleep, their necks elongate and the rokurokubi side awakes. Feeding off lamp oil, sometimes this yokai will feed off of small animals. This curse is usually punishment for a wicked deed.

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Tanuki (狸)

Raccoons are called “tanuki” in Japanese, but they’re also considered yokai!  They have shape shifting powers and like to play pranks on humans. They’re considered good natured yokai and are not feared. It is believed that some raccoons live as humans and tend to be drunks or thieves.

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Oni (鬼)

When especially bad people die, they are reborn as oni in hell. Oni are demons that are servants to the God of Hell, Enma, and have the task of punishing all those in hell. They’re depicted as horned and savage looking demons that feed off humans and animals.

Anime like Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro, Yokai Watch, Natsume Yuujincho, and XXXholic have a lot of characters that are based off these well-known yokai so you may have seen them before! Did you recognize any of these yokai?

Let us know in the comments below!

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