the online database of Japanese folkore



Translation: a baby-talk corruption of obake (“monster”)
Alternate names: akaheru, chikarakoko, gamanoke (“frog spirit”); countless others

Appearance: Okka is a small, bulbous yōkai. It is usually depicted as a round, bright red creature with big eyes, two clawed feet, and a diminutive tail. There are many variations of this yokai, with minor difference in color, number of appendages, facial features, and hair.

Origin: Okka appears in many of the oldest yōkai picture scrolls. Since its original name was never recorded, countless names have been used to describe this yōkai. The word okka is a baby talk variation of obake, a generic word for a ghost or monster. It fits this yōkai quite well, as okka itself has a somewhat generic and baby-like appearance. It also fits an established pattern of monsters being named in baby talk; waira, otoroshi, gagoze, and uwan are also thought to be “baby-fied” variations of scary words.

It has been suggested that okka may be a frog spirit, based on its appearance. It has also been suggested that okka is a tsukumogami, as it appears alongside other tsukumogami in paintings. Though it was never given a name or an explanation, okka has yet remained a common sight in scrolls depicting the night parade of one hundred demons. Okka is frequently depicted together with kanazuchibō; it appears to be the target of kanazuchibō’s hammer. However, their frequent pairing may be no more than a coincidence. Painters frequently copied directly from earlier yōkai scrolls, and without any description there is no way of knowing if the original painting that depicts okka being targeted by kanazuchibō was done so for a specific reason, or just because it looked amusing.

Alphabetical list of yōkai