the online database of Japanese folklore



Translation: human soul
Habitat: graveyards and near the recently deceased
Diet: none

Appearance: Hitodama are the visible souls of humans detached from their host bodies. They appear as red, orange, or blue-white orbs, and float about slowly not too far from the ground.

Behavior: On warm summer nights, these strange, glowing orbs can be seen floating around graveyards, funeral parlors, or the houses where people have recently died. Most often they are seen just before or after the moment of death, when the soul leaves the body to return to the ether. It is most common to see them at night, though they occasionally appear during the daytime. Rarely, hitodama materialize when a person loses consciousness, floating outside of the body, only to return when the person regains consciousness.

Hitodama are harmless, and it is important not to confuse them with other, potentially deadly fireball yōkai. Hitodama can be distinguished from other hi no tama by the distinctive tails of light which trail behind them.

Alphabetical list of yōkai