Ghosts (yookai, bakemono)

. yōkai 妖怪 Yokai - Japanese monsters .

Ghosts (yookai, yuurei, bakemono)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


CLICK for more YUUREI photos
ghost. yuurei 幽霊
bakemono 化け物  o-bake お化け
yookai 妖怪

Ghost Stories 怪談話 kaidanbanashi

In summer in Japan it is custom to tell stories about ghosts and gruesome events, so people will get a chill from it to keep cool. :o).

Here in our mountains it is cool anyway, but walking at night beside the family graves, at full moon, you might get some inspiration !

lonely graves
spooking away the ghosts -
summer in Japan

© Gabi Greve, May 2005

. 江戸 Edo - 妖怪 Yokai monsters, 幽霊 Yurei ghosts .
- Introduction -


. Monster festival (bakemono matsuri 化物祭 )
Tsuruoka Tenmangu Sai 鶴岡天満宮祭
Tsuruoka Tenmangu Festival
kigo for early summer

. . . . .

Bon-Kyogen performed on the 16th of July

. kiraigoo 鬼来迎 (きらいごう)
"Welcoming the Demons"

..... Oni Mai 鬼舞(おにまい)"Demon's Dance"
kigo for late summer


- quote -

hitai kakushi 額隠 "forehead covering"
is a white piece of triangular paper or cloth worn on the head by yūrei.
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


. Hyaku monogatari 百物語
One Hundred Ghost Stories
kigo for late summer

Gruesome ghost stories were told to keep cool on a hot summer night.

In the Northern parts of Europe, where the summers are much cooler, ghost stories are often told in the long winter nights to entertain the children.


Naito Toten (Naitoo Toten) 内藤吐天 (1900 - 1976)

江戸 本所の七不思議 Edo Honojo no Nana Fushigi

The Seven Wonders of Honjo
Zack Davisson
Several of the ghost legends of Honjo were collected together and called the Honjo Nanafushigi (本所七不思議), the Seven Wonders of Honjo. The number seven is purely nominal; as in many places in the world, the number seven carries mystical significance and when you are telling ghost stories the “seven wonders” sounds scarier than the “nine wonders” or “eight wonders.”
source : hyakumonogatari.com

Translated Japanese Ghost Stories and
Tales of the Weird and the Strange


. WKD : Honjo Nana Fushigi 本所七不思議 - Seven Wonders of Honjo .
- and
Edo Nana Fushigi 江戸七不思議The Seven Wonders of Edo 


Here are a few extra pages about my research of
the Japanese ghosts:

Take your time to read them leisurely.

The Hungry Ghosts are part of the Six Realms of Existence, rokudoo 六道 of the Buddhist religion.
Hungry Demons, Hungry Ghosts (gaki)

O-Bake, お化け, Literally means, "transforming thing." Anything that is fearful or super-large or otherwise out of the normal range is called O-Bake.
Japanese Ghosts and Ghost Stories, kaidan 怪談
On Overview of them all !

Oni, Japanese Demons and Art 鬼 と美術

Tanuki, the bewitching badger

Kappa 河童, the water goblin - Kappapedia

Oonyuudoo 大入道 O-Nyudo
Monster with a long neck and hanging tongue

Shoki (Shooki  鍾馗 しょうき)The Demon Queller

Fireflies (hotaru) and the souls of the Heike clan

Ueda Akinari 上田秋成 (1734 - 1809)
He is famous for his eerie ghost stories and strange fiction in Japan.


 NUE 鵺 a mythological beast
with the head of a monkey, breast of a badger, scales like a dragon, tail of a serpent and feet like a tiger

Yookai 妖怪 Monsters and Japanese Food


Exhibition Storytelling in Japanese Art.
New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art
November 19, 2011–May 6, 2012

- quote
In 2002, The Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired a rare masterwork of Japanese art—A Long Tale for an Autumn Night, a set of three illustrated handscrolls, each more than ten meters long, dating from the medieval period. This major acquisition gave rise to the exhibition "Storytelling in Japanese Art," organized by Masako Watanabe, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Asian Art. Together with this publication, the exhibition traces the rich history of Japanese painted narratives with examples in a range of formats, including illustrated books, folding screens, hanging scrolls, and even playing cards. These objects, which date from the twelfth to the nineteenth century, vividly capture the life and spirit of their time. The popularity of Japanese comics, or manga, and the preeminence of the graphic arts in contemporary Japan attest to the enduring legacy of these traditions.

Central to any exploration of this subject is the illustrated handscroll, or emaki, a narrative format that has been essential not only to the dissemination of Japanese tales but also to the very ways in which they are crafted. The more than twenty handscrolls on view in the exhibition, a selection of which are reproduced in arresting detail in these pages, invite viewers to explore myriad subjects that have preoccupied the Japanese imagination for centuries—Buddhist and Shinto miracle tales; the adventures of legendary heroes and their feats at times of war; animals and fantastical creatures that cavort within the human realm; and the ghoulish antics of ghosts and monsters.

The exhibition brings together outstanding works from public and private collections both local and from farther afield. We are especially indebted to the New York Public Library for their loan of more than ten precious medieval handscrolls from the Spencer Collection. Joined by a selected of objects from the Metropolitan Museum's own rich holdings in Japanese art, they offer a rare opportunity for visitors of all ages to experience the pleasures and intellectual challenges inherent in Japanese narrative painting.
- source : www.metmuseum.org

- quote
Welcome to the endlessly fascinating world of Japanese storytelling. Japan has a long and rich history of pairing narrative texts with elaborate illustrations—a tradition that continues to this day with manga and other popular forms of animation. Featuring more than sixty works of art in a range of mediums and formats, this exhibition invites you to explore myriad subjects that have preoccupied the Japanese imagination for centuries—Buddhist and Shinto miracle tales; the romantic adventures of legendary heroes and their feats at times of war; animals and fantastical creatures that cavort within the human realm; and the ghoulish antics of ghosts and monsters.

From illustrated books and folding screens to textiles and even playing cards, the objects on view, which date from the twelfth to the nineteenth century, vividly capture the life and spirit of their time. Central to our exploration of this subject is the illustrated handscroll, or emaki, a narrative format that is essential not only to the dissemination of Japanese tales but also to the very ways in which they are crafted. The more than twenty handscrolls on view in the galleries demonstrate the many ways in which the pictorial space of the emaki is designed to draw viewers directly into a story, offering a rare opportunity for visitors of all ages to experience the pleasures and intellectual challenges inherent in Japanese narrative painting.

Scene from The Legend of Kitano Tenjin Engi

Narrative Flow: Muromachi Tales and the Handscroll Format
Japanese storytelling reached its apogee during the Nanbokuchō and Muromachi periods (1336–1573). The more than four hundred tales that emerged during the Muromachi period are known collectively as otogi zōshi. Ranging widely in theme, from religious parables to capricious fables, these short, often didactic stories are a world apart from the courtly romantic tales of the Heian period (794–1185), the heyday of aristocratic society. Many of the plots stem from the epics of the Kamakura period (1185–1333), a time of marked military ascendancy and the rise of a powerful warrior class.

Contributing significantly to the development and dissemination of otogi zōshi was the handscroll, a major vehicle for painting and writing throughout East Asia. Illustrated handscrolls, or emaki (picture scrolls), first emerged in Japan in the eighth century. They generally measure about one foot high and can extend for more than thirty feet. Emaki are meant to be unrolled laterally, from right to left, and read in sequential segments of about two feet each. Usually, text sections are interspersed with images, with the narrative preceding the related illustration. A scroll is unrolled with the left hand, while the right hand rolls the part already viewed, allowing the story to emerge from the left and disappear to the right. With the freedom to move through the scenes at his or her own pace, the viewer physically experiences the progression of time and space as the past is rolled away, the present is slowly uncovered, and the future waits to be seen.
- source : www.metmuseum.org

An eight-headed, nine-tailed monster greeted us at the door of the exhibition. Fortunately for us, the monster was preoccupied with other business, for he guards the gate to hell.

Read more of these monster musings here :

- source : prufrocksdilemma.blogspot.jp

Worldwide use

kyuuketsu ki 吸血鬼 blood-sucking demon

banpaia バンパイア vampire

Vampires have been introduced by the Europeans, in the 19th century.

Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki 100 monsters
Toriyama Sekien
source : commons.wikimedia.org

the name of the vampire is “Kyuketsu-ki,” which means blood-sucking Oni. in the late 18th century, the ukiyo-e artist Sekien Toriyama drew a picture in which the Oni is eating an animal with a skull lying at the feet in a cave. The text describes the Oni's relationship to a tiger and cow, a fang and a horn.

This Oni became famous at the same time that vampires began to appear in Europe. the name “Kyuketsu-ki” was introduced in the 19th century, in the Meiji era, a time in which Japanese and Western culture rapidly mixed. The monster image is not only an enemy of Japanese people, but also, a subjectivized character
(Kagawa, M. 2005. Edo no Youkai Kakumei
(The revolution of Japanese ghosts in the Edo period).

. Toriyama Sekien 鳥山石燕 (1712 – 1788) .

The Illustrated Night Parade of A Hundred Demons 画図百鬼夜行
今昔画図続百鬼 - all his works
The Illustrated One Hundred Demons from the Present and the Past
source : 収録作品

banpaia isoona yami no hotarugari

a vampire
might be out there in the darkness -
hunting for fireflies

Katsumata Tamiki 勝又民樹

お役者捕物帖 - - - 吸血鬼 / 栗本薫



Aswang shape shifter

Things found on the way

Buson's Monster Scroll

Buson Bakemono Emaki, Buson Yōkai Emaki

Start from here to see more of the monsters:
© ship.nime.ac.jp / Buson's Monster Scroll

the wailing old woman / 泣き婆


Japanese art, ghosts and Buddhism:
Botan Doro 牡丹灯篭 Botan Dōrō
The Peony Lantern

The setting of this story is based in Koyasan where the local Buddhist priest was telling the story of Botan Doro (The Peony Lantern). People had been waiting ages because they knew that he could tell ghost stories with passion and the setting was very mysterious.
。。。。。 Ogiwara Shinnojo was a samurai warrior but his heart was full of woe because he was a widower. At night he felt so alone and memories of the past came back to haunt him and it appeared that he would never feel the fluttering heart of love again.

... The Buddhist priest telling the story then said that “Their eyes gazed on Ogiwara because his corpse was entangled with Otsuyu for the last time but it appeared that the final minutes were full of fear judging by the face of Ogiwara.” The priest continued by commenting that “After Ogiwara entered the crypt it shut by itself once he embraced Otsuyu to make love to her but this time she would never let him go. Therefore, the last few minutes of his life were ended in a perverse and panic stricken nature because now he could see the truth but it was too late because the shadow of death swallowed him up.”

Lee Jay Walker
source : moderntokyotimes.com

binan bijo tooroo ni terasu mayoi kana

a handsome man and a handsome woman
in the light of a lantern
lost on the way . . .

Are these two from our world? or are they from the other world? It is O-Bon and all is possible.

. Takarai Kikaku 宝井其角 .


External LINK

Miraculous Stories from the Japanese Buddhist Tradition

Nihon ryōiki 日本霊異記 Nihon Ryoiki
Wunder­same Bege­ben­heiten aus Japan

um 800

translated by University Vienna
source : www.univie.ac.at


bakesoo na kasa kasu tera no shigure kana

winter drizzle -
at the temple I borrow an old umbrella
looking like a ghost

Yosa Buson
Tr. Gabi Greve

"Umbrella looking like a ghost"
Discussion of this haiku and a famous sweet to go with it!


koboozu no tanuki ni bakuru shigure kana

a young priest
is turning into a badger ...
winter sleet

by a student of Buson
Tr. Gabi Greve

(usually the badger turns in a young priest, but here it is the other way round ...)

CLICK for more tanuki photos

old Santa turns
into a badger ...
winter sunshine

Gabi Greve
in response to Buson and his disciple. May 2008


Kobayashi Issa

CLICK for more MOMONGA photos

yanagi kara momonguwa tote deru ko kana

from the willow
a ghost attacks!
the child

According to Issa zenshû, the child has thrown a coat over his head and is running out from the shadow of the willow, attempting to scare people
(Nagano: Shinano Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1976-79, 6.171).
Momonguwa (momonga 鼯鼠) is another word for the Japanese flying squirrel (musasabi); more generally it refers to a wide-eyed, mouth-open boogieman who frightens children; see Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 1642. Shinji Ogawa suggests that "ghost" is a good translation in context, noting that "the association of a willow tree and a ghost was well established by the time of Issa." The haiku captures a moment of energy and imagination, taking its adult readers back to an earlier time when all the world seemed magical.
A constant theme in Issa's poetry about children seems to be: Live that way again!

yûrei to hito wa miruran susuki-bara

where people
see ghosts...
field of pampas grass

Shinji Ogawa paraphrases, "The people may see the field of pampas grass as ghosts."

Tr. David Lanoue


© 緑陰漫筆 / 江戸俳画紀行 :(磯部勝著)

dokozo de wa baba ni ya naran takerineko

it may become a hag--
the raging cat

Tr. Fumiko Y. Yamamoto

Takebe Socho (Takebe Soochoo 建部巣兆) (1761-1814)

Ghosts and Haiku - Discussion


yuurei no yoku deta niwa yori kanna saku

canna lilies bloom first
in the garden where ghosts
appear often

Goto Takashi (Gotoo Takashi) 五島高資
Medical doctor from Nagasaki
1968 -
source : 五島高資

Related words

***** Bakeneko, the Monster Cat ... 化け猫

***** Halloween ハロウィーン

***** . Saijiki of Buddhist Events .

***** Sleet, rain mixed with snow, cold rain, winter drizzle (shigure)  

More about the discussion
Imagination in Haiku

Graveyard warden (onboo 隠坊)

Yookai Hakase 妖怪博士 a professor takes a closer look at monsters:
. Inoue Enryoo 井上 円了 Inoue Enryo .

. Oni 鬼 Demon Amulets .

. Regional Folk Toys from Japan .
Including Monsters and Goblins.


A New Collection of Monsters (Shinpan bakemono zukushi)
「新板化物つくし」- 1860

This entry is now continued HERE in the Kappapedia

. - yookai, yōkai 妖怪 Yokai - Japanese monsters - .



- #yokai #ghost #yookai #hitaikakushi-


Anonymous said...

Japan Times

Ghost scrolls get showing at Fukushima temple

About 60 hanging scrolls from the Edo and Meiji periods depicting Japanese ghosts were shown to the public at Kinshoji Temple in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Saturday.

The exhibition was held on the last day of "bon" summer holidays, which is said to be the day for sending off the spirits of the dead.

Most of the artworks were made between the end of Edo period and the mid-Meiji period. One is a hanging scroll painted by Maruyama Oukyo, a famous painter from Edo period, the temple said.

The temple's late head priest, who believed that ghosts in the paintings also carry spirits, began collecting the hanging scrolls about 30 years ago. He also began to exhibit the temple's collection to the public and let visitors to pray for the souls of the dead each year, the temple said.

Knowing that the temple takes good care of the ghost scrolls, many people donated their own paintings, swelling the temple's collection to 60, it said.

"Ghost paintings usually end up in temples, but it is huge to have a collection of 60," said Nobuo Tsuji, 76, an art history expert.

The Japan Times
(C) All rights reserved

WHC Workshop said...

ghost stories in US America is a year round endeavor, and the genre is a very significant part of USA literary history, both Poe and Washington Irving having written really famous ghost stories, as have many major USA writers since. Ghost Busters, Casper, etc.

more by I.

anonymous said...

Tellin ghost stories ...
I read it as seasonal, too. Summer, school vacation in the US.
Here is a story by Lafadio Hearn to be read at the summer campfire


anonymous said...


Monsters from all of Japan

azuki arai 小豆洗い
and many more


Yokai Illustrations said...

Shigeoka Yokai Zukan

Monstropedia said...


Sangaikyoo said...


Chinese Monster Collection


Toriyama Sekien said...

Toriyama Sekien (鳥山 石燕, 1712 – 1788) was an 18th century scholar and ukiyo-e artist of Japanese folklore. He was the teacher of Utamaro and, before taking up printmaking, a painter of the Kano school. Toriyama is most famous for his attempt to catalogue all species of yōkai in the Hyakki Yakō series.

Gabi Greve - Edo said...

iruikon 異類婚 marriage between different kinds

In most stories, a female animal becomes the wife of a human
- irui nyooboo 異類女房.

In other stories, a snake, dragon or other animal becomes the lover of a woman
- irui muko 異類婿.


Gabi Greve said...

boorei to yuurei ketsueki gata chigau

the blood type
of a vengeful spirit and a ghost
are different

Hata Yooko 波多洋子 Hata Yoko

blood types

Gabi Greve said...

Here are some flashcards highlighting Japan's ghosts and mystical creatures to help prepare for the
Japan Society Obake Family Day on November 2!
on facebook

Anonymous said...

“Yōkai Watch”: Japan’s Netherworld Hit Poised to Go Overseas

Since its release in July 2013, the video game Yōkai Watch has rapidly risen to megahit status in Japan. The game’s characters now star in their own animated program, as well as adorning everything from snack packages to trains. Level-5, the company that produces the game, has taken great care in engineering its blockbuster for surefire success, borrowing winning ideas from a number of other franchises. The breakout popularity of the game has prompted daring comparisons to Japanese superstar Pokémon, with some even saying it has the potential to surpass its predecessor.


Anonymous said...

Three Mythological Beasts you see in everyday Japan (and what the hell they mean)
The Tanuki
The Tengu
The Namazu
article by David Plant

Gabi Greve said...

Japandemonium Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopedias of Toriyama Sekien

– September 21, 2016
by Toriyama Sekien (Author),
Matt Alt (Editor, Translator), Hiroko Yoda (Editor, Translator)
Japanese folklore abounds with bizarre creatures collectively referred to as the yokai ― the ancestors of the monsters populating Japanese film, literature, manga, and anime. Artist Toriyama Sekien (1712–88) was the first to compile illustrated encyclopedias detailing the appearances and habits of these creepy-crawlies from myth and folklore. Ever since their debut over two centuries ago, the encyclopedias have inspired generations of Japanese artists. Japandemonium Illustrated represents the very first time they have ever been available in English. 
This historically groundbreaking compilation includes complete translations of all four of Sekien's yokai masterworks:
the 1776 Gazu Hyakki Yagyo (The Illustrated Demon Horde's Night Parade),
the 1779 Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki (More Illustrated Demons from Past and Present),
the 1780 Konjaku Hyakki Shui (Even More Demons from Past and Present), and
the 1784 Hyakki Tsurezure Bukuro (An Idle Horde of Things).

The collection is complemented by a detailed introduction and helpful annotations for modern-day readers.