Well, I spent most of the day recovering from a hard disk failure, but thanks to same-day-delivery I am now running a much faster solid state drive and re-installing everything. With the amount of frustration computers can bring us, it’s fun to imagine what kind of yokai would have been attributed to them if they had existed 250 years ago… With all of the crazy tsukumogami out there, I’m sure there would have been at least a few computer gremlin stories.
Today’s yokai is a very old one. It’s name is one of the oldest terms for supernatural creatures, in fact. Long, long ago, before words like yokai, onryou, and yuurei had been thought up, there were chimi (and their counterpart mouryou).
The word was originally a generic term for spirits—specifically mountain spirits—but eventually during the Edo period, during the mass cataloging of yokai into encyclopedias, it took on a more specific form and definition. It is still used occasionally as a catch-all term for yokai (particularly when coupled with its parter-word, mouryou).