Here this week at Camp Shofuso we are focusing on yokai, which loosely translates into the words monster, spirit, demon or goblin. They are Japanese folklore creatures. The word Yokai is usually a catch-all word for a lot of different and unusual phenomena such as spirit possessions, bakemono (spirits who are animals or humans), ghosts and more.

Yokai oni

Japanese people have tried in the past to stifle the stories of yokai because they felt as though it was embarrassing how much they loved superstitions. However, in the modern day, they turned out to be extremely popular. During the Edo period, there was a flourishing of all types of entertainment and activities, folklore was one of them. However, after World War II a Manga artist whose name was Shigeru Mizuki had seen how cool they were and decided to bring it back up to Japan. He created ‘Gegege no Kitaro’ which had boosted the interest a second time in the supernatural. You can see the influence of yokai everywhere in Japan, even on their currency! [1]

During ‘Obon’ a Japanese summer celebration, many Japanese celebrate their ancestors. It is a Buddhist-Confucian originated holiday that has become more of a family reunion. At this time the Japanese also take a trip back to their family member’s graves and clean them up. Not only do they welcome their ancestors, but they welcome other yokai as well. The Japanese pay respect to many different types of spirits as not to feel their spite. They understand that ‘opening’ the door to the other world would not only bring them their ancestors but all types of spirits. However, they do not let their traditional and superstitious beliefs get in the middle of the everyday modern life driven by science.

obon festival in japan

What is said to be the most horrifying yokai would be the angry ghosts who died unjustly. They come back supposedly with an insatiable hunger for vengeance, and it doesn’t matter who they cause chaos on. One of the most horrifying yokai would be Oiwa-san, she’s horribly disfigured and committed suicide because of her cheating and lying samurai husband. [2]


Check out the full story on yokai.com, however, discretion is advised for the content of the story.



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