Yokai (III): Japanese Supernatural Creatures

Yokai (III): Japanese Supernatural Creatures

In Japanese, yokai is a broad and vague term that covers almost all monsters, supernatural beings, ghosts, possessed spirits, and other strange phenomena. It encompasses a broad range: from animal-like yokai to human-like yokai, from creatures to spirits, from malicious to benevolent. The Japanese kept creating new yokai to satisfy their need to enjoy horror stories. Here are some of the most common yokai.



Umi-bozu (a sea monster) appears only at sea. Its true form is unknown because it is only seen from the shoulders above. He appears to be humanoid in appearance, with inky black skin and large, round eyes. His head is bare and rounded, like a monk's, and his body is naked. Its size is mysterious - some reports claim that it is slightly larger than a boat while others believe it is unimaginably large.

Usually, Umi-bozu will suddenly appear in calm seas. When he comes, the waves and weather will suddenly be furious. Sometimes, he will break the boat directly. Sometimes, he will ask the sailors for a bucket of water. After giving him the bucket, it would still drown the poor souls anyway. However, the good news is that there is a way to fool him; if the sailor gives him a bucket without a bottom, it will muddle through and the sailor can escape.



Nekomata (forked cat) is a cat-shaped Yokai in Japanese folklore. It is often confounded with the Bakeneko, the difference being that the Bakeneko has only one tail while the Nekomata has two. Nekomata is larger, smarter, older, and mightier than the Bakeneko. These cat monsters can walk on their hind legs and speak human language.

There are two types of cats: the mountain Nekomata and the domestic Nekomata. The Nekomata originally lived in the mountains, but if a regular domestic cat is kept for too long, it will become a Nekomata. Regardless of the type of Nekomata, they despise humans. They can summon fireballs to cause large fires and control corpses with their necromantic powers. The most dangerous and powerful Nekomata live deep in the mountains, where they grow to incredible sizes, reaching several meters in length. They can prey on large animals such as bears, boars, and of course humans.



Yuki-onna (snow woman) is a spirit or monster that often appears in Japanese literature, movies, and animation. Yuki-onna in Japanese folklore is depicted to be beautiful and scary. She has a charming appearance, virtuous character, and the ability to take human life instantly without mercy. There are various legends about her, and even her name has many variations, such as yuki-musume (snow daughter), yuki-onba (snow nanny), and yukinba (snow witch). The story about the Yuki-onna also has different variants. There are snow maidens who only come out on days of light snow and can be killed by hot water. Some Yuki-onna are believed to be the princess of the moon. They cannot return home after sneaking to Earth to see the snow. They would appear on full moon snowy nights. They miss their homeland. Other Yuki-onna will call for help in the wild on snowy nights and hunt down and kill people who respond to her.

Yuki-onna prey on travelers who get lost in the snowstorm in the Japanese Alps. They have snow-white skin, long black hair, and sharp eyes. Their bodies are as cold as ice, giving a bitter chill in just one touch. They feed on human vitality. Yuki-onna will freeze the victim with their cold breath and then suck the vitality out of human mouths.

Yuki-onna haunt near mountain roads, preying on travelers and breaking into houses. Although they are human hunters, Yuki-onna have the ability to love. When they fall in love with their prey, they will set them free or marry them and live happily ever after. However, since Yuki-onna never grow old, their husbands will inevitably discover their true identity. The moment their husbands betray them, the Yuki-onna will not hesitate to take their lives.

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