the online database of Japanese folkore

About This Site

Yokai.com is written, illustrated, and maintained by Matthew Meyer. It is kept running thanks to monthly support from backers of this Patreon project. (To become a patron, visit patreon.com/osarusan.)

This web site began as a Halloween art project called A-Yōkai-A-Day, in which I painted and introduced one yōkai on my blog every day for the month of October. It quickly became popular, and the following year I did A-Yōkai-A-Day again, and again each year after that. It became the starting point for my first book, The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons. Eventually it made sense to put my yōkai work on its own domain apart from my blog. Yokai.com opened in 2013 and has been growing steadily since then.

This website is intended as an introduction to the supernatural creatures and phenomena of Japanese folklore known as yōkai. It is not the final authority on any particular yōkai or yōkai in general. It is not an all-inclusive or exhaustive collection. There are far more stories and descriptions for each yōkai than could ever fit on these small pages. It will never be able to cover all of the yōkai that have ever been thought up.

This site deals primarily with folklore, not mythology. Folklore is full of contradictions. Unlike mythology, there is no fixed canon or final authority on what is or isn’t. Folklore belongs to everyone. Many entries on this site have multiple explanations which contradict each other. Their definitions have changed over time, and will continue to change for as long as their stories are told. This uncertainty–the inability to know–that is inherent in folklore can be frustrating. However, it is one of the primary points of enjoyment in yōkai lore. To fully comprehend yōkai is impossible; indeed it goes against their very nature. The essence of yōkai is that they are ultimately mysterious and unknowable.

You will notice a lack of inline citations on each entry. This is on purpose. Although great care is taken to ensure that yōkai are accurately researched from original sources and actual folklore (as opposed to fakelore), this website is not intended as an academic research project. It is meant for the enjoyment and appreciation of yōkai, free from the pretense of being authoritative or canonical. That said, citations and sources can be provided upon request for any particular entry.

The entries on this site are presented in the following format:

Yōkai Name

Japanese writing of the yōkai name
(in kanji, katakana, and/or hiragana)

Translation: an English translation of the name. Note that this is not the “English name.” It’s just an explanation of the meaning of the name. Yōkai should be referred to by their native Japanese names rather than by translations.
Alternate names: regional names, nicknames, different readings of the kanji, and other variations the yōkai goes by. Note that some common yōkai have too many alternative names to list them all here.
Habitat: where the yōkai might be encountered or where it normally lives, if it is specified in the folklore.
Diet: what the yōkai feeds on, or dietary preferences, if specified in folklore.

Appearance: a brief description of the yōkai including its physical presentation and its most famous traits.

Behavior: the yōkai’s natural behavior and role in society, if known.

Interactions: the yōkai’s behavior when encountering humans or interacting with human society.

Origins: information on how the yōkai came to be part of Japanese folklore, deeper meanings and etymology of its names, its development over time, its relationship to Japanese history and culture, peculiarities or contradictions in various accounts, and noteworthy sources or appearances of the yōkai.

Legends: the typical story patterns the yōkai follows , or a summary of its most well-known story.

Alphabetical list of yōkai