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TRANSLATION: onomatopoeic; named for the sound it makes
HABITAT: empty temples, abandoned houses
DIET: lives off of the fear it causes

APPEARANCE: Very little is known about this monster, which is more often heard than seen. It is named for the distinctive sound it makes, crying out from the darkness: “Uwan!” No written record of its physical appearance exists, and the creature was thought to be utterly formless for centuries. It wasn’t until the Edo period that uwan were considered anything more than phantom sounds, when yokai artist Sawaki Sūshi gave the creature the shape we know today.

INTERACTIONS: Uwan are occasionally encountered outside of old buildings and temples, where they like to assault lone passersby by leaping out of the shadows and shouting, “Uwan!” Any weak-willed individuals who faint at the surprise will never wake up again, as the uwan steals their soul and runs away into the darkness. However, if a brave individual shouts back, “Uwan!” this yokai will flee and never bother him or her again.

LEGENDS: A famous uwan encounter took place in Akita prefecture during the Edo period. A young newlywed couple had bought an old mansion and moved in together. On their first night in their new house, they were awoken suddenly by a loud voice shouting, “UWAN!” The shocked couple searched all over and around the house, but couldn’t find the source of the voice. The shouting continued sporadically all night long, every night for some time, and the couple was not able to sleep at all.

Some time later, the couple’s neighbors began to ask why he and she were always so tired-looking, with blood-shot eyes and disheveled hair. The husband tried to explain about the mysterious voice, but none of his neighbors claimed to have heard the shouting, and so of course, nobody in the neighborhood believed the couple. Instead, gossip quickly began to spread that the newlyweds weren’t getting any sleep on account of nocturnal activity of a different kind… Embarrassed, the couple ceased asking about the strange sounds.



TRANSLATION: echo; written with characters meaning mountain boy
HABITAT: forested mountains and valleys, inside camphor tress
DIET: unknown

APPEARANCE: The wilds of Japan are full of strange phenomena, like echoes that bounce back with more delay than they should, or that come back slightly different from the original sound. When the false echo comes from the forest, it is usually attributed to a ko-dama. When it comes from the mountains, it is due to something called a yamabiko. They are very small, appearing like a cross between a dog and a wild monkey. Yamabiko are known almost exclusively by their voices alone, which are skilled at mimicking any sound, including natural sounds, human language, and more recently, trains and cars. They also occasionally unleash terrible and mysterious screams deep in the forests that can carry for very long distances.

BEHAVIOR: Little is known about these yokai due to their rarity and elusiveness. They live deep in the mountains and make their homes in camphor trees, living in close proximity to (and sharing a common ancestry with) the other tree and mountain spirits. For many centuries their calls were speculated to be a kind of rare bird, other kinds of yokai, or even natural phenomena. It wasn’t until the Edo period when determined yokai researchers like Sawaki Sūshi and Toriyama Sekien were able to confirm the creature’s existence and record its true shape.