the online database of Japanese folklore

Yama orabi


Translation: mountain shouter
Alternate names: orabisōke
Habitat: deep in the mountains
Diet: unknown

Appearance: Yama orabi are small tree-dwelling yōkai native to Kyūshū and Shikoku. They resemble birds with over-sized heads and mouths of sharp, pointy teeth. They are excellent mimics.

Behavior: Yama orabi are rarely seen, but can be easily heard.  As their name suggests, they love to shout. They are excellent mimics, and will copy the voices of anyone who shouts near their homes, repeating their words back to them.

While yama orabi behave very similar to other echo yōkai (such as yamabiko), locals insist that it is an entirely different creature.

Interactions: Yama orabi are usually only encountered deep in the mountains. They will shout back any word that is shouted at them. Anyone foolish enough to engage a yama orabi in a shouting match will soon die. Superstition holds that this death curse can be removed by ringing a cracked bell.

In Fukuoka Prefecture, the yama orabi is used by mothers to frighten their children to sleep. Children were warned that if they stay up too late, a yama orabi will come; so they had better go to sleep soon!

Origin: The name yama orabi comes from orabu, a word in Kyūshū dialects which means to shout.

Alphabetical list of yōkai