the online database of Japanese folkore

Chōchin kozō

提灯小僧
ちょうちんこぞう

Translation: lantern priest boy
Habitat: dark, rainy streets
Diet: unknown

Appearance: Chōchin kozō look like young boys about 12-13 years old, except that their faces are bright red and resemble ground cherries (Physalis alkekengi). They appear in areas where violent, senseless murders took place.

Behavior: Chōchin kozō are benign yōkai who don’t do anything to hurt people. The worst they can be accused of is acting odd and perhaps startling someone.

Interactions: Chōchin kozō appear on rainy nights. They carry paper lanterns and follow people walking through the streets. They increase speed until they overtake the person. Then they turn around and stare back with an eerie expression. When the person catches up and passes the chōchin kozō, they speed up and overtake the person, then turn around to stare at them some more. This behavior repeats for some time, until eventually the chōchin kozō disappears.

Origin: Chōchin kozō are associated with a particular neighborhood in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture: the area of Aoba Ward between Tsutsumidori Amamiya Machi and Kamisugi. The first sightings took place in the summer during the early 18th century, after a man horribly murdered his wife and her body dumped in that vicinity. The yōkai were thought to be somehow connected to the ghost of the murdered woman.

Alphabetical list of yōkai