the online database of Japanese folklore



Translation: smokey fabric
Alternate names: enra enra
Habitat: chimneys, bonfires
Diet: combustible materials

Appearance: Enenra is a yōkai made up of wisps of smoke, which rise up into the sky from a fires, such as the takibi bonfires which farmers light to dispose of the remains of their harvests. As the smoke rises, human-like faces appear and disappear in its form.

Behavior: Enenra is essentially just a personification of smoke. It floats about as it climbs into the air, billowing in the wind, and appearing as fragile as a piece of delicate silk dancing in the breeze. It is mesmerizing and relaxing to watch.

Origin: Enenra was invented by Toriyama Sekien for his book Konjaku hyakki shūi. It seems to be loosely based on a passage in Tsurezure gusa which describes the smoke rising from fires burned in the summer to keep mosquitoes away. Contemporary yokai scholars have also pointed out that this yōkai’s name sounds similar to the name Enma, the lord of hell and judge of the dead. As hell is a place of fire and smoke, it has been suggested that instead of the spirit of smoke itself, enenra may actually be the spirits of the dead rising up along with the smoke. For that reason, enenra only appears before those who are calm and pure of heart and mind.

Alphabetical list of yōkai