List of legendary creatures from Japan

The following is a list of demons, ghosts, kami, obake, yōkai, yūrei and other legendary creatures that are notable in Japanese folklore and mythology.


  • Abumi-guchi – A furry creature formed from the stirrup of a mounted military commander who worked for Yamata no Orochi.
  • Abura-akago – An infant ghost who licks the oil out of andon lamps.
  • Abura-sumashi – A large-headed spirit who lives on a mountain pass in Kumamoto Prefecture.
  • Akabeko – A red cow involved in the construction of Enzō-ji in Yanaizu, Fukushima.
  • Akamanto – A ghost in a red mantle that offers either red or blue toilet paper rolls in bathrooms, then kills whoever answers based on their choice.
  • Akaname – A spirit who licks off filth in untidy bathrooms.
  • Akashita – A creature that looms in a black cloud over a floodgate.
  • Akateko – A red child's hand dangling out of a tree, accompanied by a hypnotically beautiful woman standing beneath the tree.
  • Akkorokamui – A giant Ainu monster resembling a fish or octopus.
  • Akurojin-no-hi – A ghostly fire from Mie Prefecture.
  • Akubōzu – A spirit that lives in the ashes of hearths from Akita Prefecture and Iwate Prefecture.
  • Akugyo – An enormous species of mermaid found in the waters around Japan.
  • Amabie – A Japanese mermaid yōkai.
  • Amaburakosagi – A ritual-disciplinary demon from Shikoku.
  • Amamehagi – A ritual-disciplinary demon from Hokuriku.
  • Amanojaku – A small demon that instigates people into wickedness.
  • Amanozako – A monstrous goddess mentioned in the Kujiki.
  • Amazake-babaa – An old woman who asks for sweet sake and brings disease to whoever answers, whether they give her any or not.
  • Amefurikozō – A little boy spirit who plays in the rain.
  • Amemasu – An Ainu creature resembling a giant fish or whale.
  • Ameonna – A rain-making female spirit.
  • Amikiri – A net-cutting, bird-headed, crustacean-armed, snake-bodied spirit.
  • Amorōnagu – A tennyo from the island of Amami Ōshima.
  • Amaterasu – The sun goddess.
  • Anmo – A ritual-disciplinary demon from Iwate Prefecture.
  • Aoandon – The demonic spirit which arises from an andon lamp at the end of a Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai.
  • Aobōzu – A blue monk who kidnaps children.
  • Aonyōbō – A female ghost who lurks in an abandoned imperial palace.
  • Aosaginohi – A luminescent night heron.
  • Arikura-no-baba – An old woman with magical powers.
  • Ashimagari – A spirit which entangles the legs of travelers at night.
  • Ashinagatenaga – A pair of characters, one with long legs and the other with long arms.
  • Ayakashi – A maritime phenomenon considered to be the funayurei.
  • Azukiarai (or Azukitogi) – A spirit that washes azuki beans on a shoreline.


  • Bake-kujira – A ghostly whale skeleton that drifts along the coastline of Shimane Prefecture, accompanied by strange birds and fish.
  • Bakeneko – A shape-shifting cat spirit.
  • Bakezōri – A spirit inhabiting a straw sandal (zōri).
  • Baku – Supernatural beings that take the form of a tapir and devour dreams and nightmares.
  • Basan – A large fire-breathing chicken monster.
  • Bashōnosei – A banana tree spirit.
  • Betobeto-san – An invisible spirit which follows people at night, making the sound of footsteps.
  • Binbōgami – A spirit that brings poverty and other such misery.
  • Biwa-bokuboku – A biwa lute inhabited by a spirit.
  • Buruburu – A spirit which clings to people, inducing cowardice and shivering.
  • Byakko – The Japanese equivalent of the Chinese White Tiger.
  • Byōbunozoki – A tsukumogami that emerges from byōbu to spy on people.







  • Hakanohi – A fire which sprouts from the base of graves.
  • Hakuja no Myojin[1] – A white serpent deity.
  • Hakutaku – A yak-like beast which handed down knowledge on harmful spirits.
  • Hanako-san – A spirit of a young World War II era girl who inhabits and haunts school restrooms.
  • Hannya – A noh mask representing a jealous female demon.
  • Haradashi – A creature with a giant face on its stomach.
  • Harionago – A woman with a thornlike barb on the tip of each strand of her hair.
  • Hashihime – A woman whose jealousy turned her into an evil spirit, associated with the bridge at Uji.
  • HeikeganiCrabs with human faces on their shells, said to be the spirits of the warriors killed in the Battle of Dan-no-ura.
  • Hibagon – The Japanese version of the Bigfoot or the Yeti.
  • Hiderigami – Spirits said to bring droughts.
  • Hihi – A baboonlike Chinese yōkai.
  • Hikeshibaba – An old woman who extinguishes lanterns.
  • Hinode – The sunrise.
  • Hitodama – A fireball ghost that appears when someone dies, signifying the dead person's spirit.
  • Hitotsume-kozō – A one-eyed child spirit.
  • Hitotsume-nyūdō – A one-eyed monk spirit.
  • Hiyoribō – The spirit which stops rainfall.
  • Hoji – The wicked spirit of Tamamo-no-Mae.
  • Hone-onna – A skeleton woman who seeks love but brings death.
  • Hō-ō – The legendary Fenghuang bird of China.
  • Hoshi-no-Tama – A ball guarded by a kitsune (fox) which can give the one who obtains it power to force the kitsune to help them. It is said to hold some reserves of the kitsune's power.
  • Hōsōshi – A ritual exorcist.
  • Hotoke – A term used to denote a deceased person.
  • Hyakki Yakō – The demons' night parade.
  • Hyōsube – A kind of kappa covered in hair.


  • Ibaraki-doji – A particularly famous offspring of an oni.
  • Ichiren-Bozu – Animated prayer beads.
  • Ikiryō – Essentially a living ghost, as it is a living person's soul outside of their body.
  • Ikuchi – A sea serpent that travels over boats in an arc while dripping oil.
  • Inugami – A dog-spirit created, worshipped, and employed by a family via sorcery.
  • Inugami Gyoubu – A type of bake-danuki.
  • Isonade – A giant shark-like sea monster with a barb-covered tail.
  • Issie – A lake creature similar to the Loch Ness Monster.
  • Itsumade – A fire-breathing birdlike monster.
  • Ittan-momen – A possessed roll of cotton that attempts to smother people by wrapping itself around their faces.
  • Iyaya – A woman whose face is reflected as that of an old man.


  • Jami – A wicked mountain spirit.
  • Janjanbi – Drifting fireballs named for the sound they make.
  • Jibakurei – A spirit that protects a specific place.
  • JikininkiGhosts of evil people, that have been condemned to eat human corpses.
  • Jinmenju – A tree with human-faced fruits.
  • Jinmenken – A human-faced dog.
  • Jishin-namazu – A giant catfish dwelling beneath the earth, which causes earthquakes and tsunamis when it moves. It was blamed during the Ansei quake & tsunami.
  • Jorōgumo – A spider yokai that shapeshifts into an attractive woman to lure men in as prey.
  • Jatai – An animated folding-screen cloth.
  • Jubokko – A vampiric tree that grows on old battlefields.


  • Kahaku (河伯) – Another name for a Kappa.
  • Kakurezato
  • Kamaitachi – The slashing sickle-clawed weasel that haunts the mountains and rides dust devils to travel.
  • Kamikiri – A yokai that secretly cuts people's hair.
  • Kangiten – The elephant-headed god of Bliss, comparable to Ganesha.
  • Kambarinyūdō – A monk spirit that spies on people while they are using the toilet.
  • Kameosa – A possessed sake jar.
  • Kanedama – A spirit that carries money.
  • Kappa – A famous water monster with a water-filled head and a love of cucumbers.
  • Karasu-tengu – A type of crow demon.
  • Karura – An anthropomorphic eagle akin to the Hindu Garuda.
  • Kasa-obake – A possessed paper-umbrella monster.
  • Kasha – A cart-like demon that descends from the sky, or a cat-like demon, which carries away the corpses of evildoers.
  • Katawaguruma – A type of Wanyudo, with an anguished woman instead of a monk's head in a burning wheel.
  • Kawauso – River otter spirits.
  • Kawaakago – A river spirit that pretends to be a crying baby.
  • Kechibi – Fireballs with human faces inside.
  • Keneō – An old man seated in the underworld who weighs the clothes given to him by Datsue-ba.
  • Keukegen – A small dog-like creature covered entirely in long hair.
  • Kijimuna – Tree sprites from Okinawa that resemble red-headed small children.
  • Kirin – The Japanese version of the Qilin of China, which is part dragon and part deer with antlers, fish scales and an ox's tail. Said to be a protective creature and the guardian of the metal element.
  • Kitsune – A fox spirit.
  • Kitsunebi – Flames created by the Kitsune.
  • Kitsune no yomeiri – A procession of ghost lights.
  • Kiyohime – A woman who transformed into a serpent demon out of the rage of unrequited love.
  • Kodama – Spirits that lives in trees, said to be the cause of echoes.
  • Kokakuchō – The Ubume bird.
  • Komainu – The pair of lion-dogs that guard the entrances of temples.
  • Konaki-jiji – A yokai that disguises itself as an abandoned baby and cries until someone picks it up, then crushes them.
  • Konoha-tengu – A bird-like Tengu.
  • Koromodako – An octopus-like Yokai that lives in the waters bordering Kyoto and Fukui.
  • Koropokkuru – A little person from Ainu folklore.
  • Kosenjōbi – Fireballs that float over former battlefields.
  • Kosode-no-te – A possessed kosode.
  • Kotobuki - A Japanese chimera with the head of a rat, the ears of a rabbit, the horns of an ox, the comb of a rooster, the beard of a sheep, the neck of a dragon, the back of a boar, the shoulders and belly of a tiger, the arms of a monkey, the hindquarters of a dog, and the tail of a snake.
  • Kubikajiri – A headless beast that stinks of blood and eats the heads of its victims.
  • Kuchisake-onna – The slit-mouthed woman.
  • Kuda-gitsune – A small fox-like animal used in sorcery.
  • Kudan – A cow with a human face.
  • Kyonshī – The Japanese version of the Chinese hopping vampire, known as "jiangshi".
  • Kumo Yōkai – A Japanese spider demon.
  • Kunekune – A long, slender strip of paper that wiggles on rice or barley fields during hot summers.
  • Kyōkotsu – A skeletal figure that emerges from a well.
  • Kyōrinrin – Possessed scrolls or papers.


  • Mekurabe – The multiplying skulls that menaced Taira no Kiyomori in his courtyard.
  • Menreiki – A spirit composed of Gigaku masks.
  • Miage-nyūdō – A spirit that grows taller as fast as you can look up at it.
  • Mikaribaba – A one-eyed old woman.
  • Mikoshi-nyūdō – A bald goblin with an extending neck.
  • Misaki – A term for various high-ranking divine spirits.
  • Mizuchi – A dangerous water dragon.
  • Mokumokuren – A swarm of eyes that appear on a paper sliding door in an old building.
  • Momonjī – An old man who waits for travelers at every fork in the road.
  • Mononoke – Any mischievous and troublesome creature/entity of uncertain origin.
  • Morinji-no-kama – Another name for Bunbuku Chagama, the bake-danuki teakettle.
  • Mōryō – A general term for various water demons that eat corpses.
  • Mujina – A shapeshifting badger.
  • Myōbu – A title sometimes given to a fox.



  • Obake (or Bakemono) – Various shapeshifting spirits.
  • Obariyon – A yōkai which rides piggyback on a human victim and becomes unbearably heavy.
  • Oboroguruma – An oxen cart with a face in its carriage.
  • Oiwa – The ghost of a woman with a distorted face who was murdered by her husband. One of the most famous onryō.
  • Ōkaburo – A cross-dressing yōkai.
  • Ōgama – A giant toad which breathes rainbow-like smoke and wields a giant spear against whoever attacks it.
  • Ōkami – A powerful wolf spirit that either takes your life or protects it, depending on the actions one does in his or her life.
  • Okiku – The plate-counting ghost of a servant girl.
  • Ōkubi – The huge face of a woman which appears in the sky, either portending disaster or causing it.
  • Okuri-inu – A spectral dog which follows lone travelers, attacking them if they trip. Similar to the Black dog of English folklore.
  • Ōmagatoki – The moment of dusk when the spirit world and the material world overlap.
  • Ōmukade – A giant, human-eating centipede that lives in the mountains.
  • Oni – The classic Japanese demon. It is an ogre-like creature which often has horns.
  • Onibaba – The demonic hag of Adachigahara.
  • Onibi – A demonic flame which sucks out the life of those who come too close to it.
  • Onihitokuchi – A one-eyed oni that kills and eats humans.
  • Onikuma – A bipedal bear yōkai.
  • Onmoraki – A bird-demon created from the spirits of freshly dead corpses.
  • Ōnyūdō – Wastebasket taxon for all 'priestly' demons.
  • Onryō – A vengeful ghost formed from powerful feelings like rage or sorrow.
  • Otoroshi – A hairy creature that perches on the torii gates to shrines and temples.
  • Onmyōji – A human who has powers like a yōkai's.
  • Osakabe – An old woman yōkai which resides in Himeji Castle and who can read and manipulate hearts.


  • Raijin – The God of Thunder.
  • Raijū – A doglike beast that falls to earth in a lightning bolt.
  • Rōjinbi – A ghostly fire that appears with an old person.
  • Rokurokubi – A person, usually female, whose neck can stretch indefinitely.
  • Ryuu – The Japanese dragon.



  • Taka-onna – A female monster that can stretch its waist to peer inside buildings.
  • Tamamo-no-Mae – A wicked nine-tailed fox who appeared as a courtesan.
  • Tanuki – The Japanese raccoon dog. In folklore, "tanuki" have the ability to shape-shift.
  • Teke Teke – The vengeful spirit of a schoolgirl, with a half upper-torso body, who goes around killing people by slicing them in half with a scythe, mimicking her own disfigurement.
  • Ten – A mischievous shapeshifting weasel.
  • Tengu – A wise demon with two variants: a red-skinned man with a long nose, or a bird-like demon.
  • Tenjōkudari – A female yokai that crawls on the ceiling.
  • Tenka (kaika) – A type of ghost lights.
  • Tenko (fox) – An elderly fox spirit that has reached the full extent of its power.
  • Tennin – The Japanese version of angels.
  • Te-no-me – A ghostly blind man with his eyes on his palms.
  • Teratsutsuki – The onryō of a man who lived in the 6th century CE.
  • Tesso – A priest who was snubbed by the emperor and became a swarm of rats which laid waste to a rival temple.
  • Tōfu-kozō – A yokai that appears as a young boy carrying a plate of tofu.
  • Tsuchigumo – A clan of spider-like yokai.
  • Tsuchinoko – A legendary serpentine monster. It is now a cryptid resembling a fat snake.
  • Tsukinowaguma – A legendary bear.[2]
  • Tsukuyomi – The moon god.
  • Tsukumogami – An animated tea caddy that Matsunaga Hisahide used to bargain a peace with Oda Nobunaga. It is now understood to mean any 100-year-old inanimate object that has come to life.
  • Tsurube-otoshi – A monster that drops out of the tops of trees to attack and eat those who pass beneath the tree.


  • Ubume – The spirit of a woman who died in childbirth, lingering to protect the child she left behind.
  • Uma-no-ashi – A horse's leg which dangles from a tree and kicks passers by.
  • Umibōzu – A giant monster appearing on the surface of the sea.
  • Umi-nyōbō – A female sea monster who steals fish.
  • Ungaikyō – A possessed mirror that distorts all reflections into monstrous images.
  • Ushi-no-tokimairi – A curse done at the ox hour (between 1 and 3 in the morning) by a black magic user, with various effects.
  • Ushi-oni – The name given to an assortment of ox-headed monsters.
  • Ushi-onna – A kimono-clad woman with a cow's head.
  • Ushirogami – A one-eyed, footless spirit.
  • Uwan – A spirit named for the sound it makes when surprising people.


  • Waira – A large beast that lurks in the mountains, about which little is known.
  • Wani – A water monster comparable to an alligator or crocodile. A related word has been applied to the saltwater crocodile.
  • Wanyūdō – A flaming wheel with a man's head in the center, that sucks out the soul of anyone who sees it.



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Oriental Economic Review". Oriental Information Agency. 14 July 2018 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women who Run with the Wolves (1996), Ch. 12.

External linksEdit