Greetings yokai fans!

I hope you’re enjoying your final month of summer! Just now as the nights are starting to hint at slightly cooler weather on the horizon, I really feel in the mood for ghost stories.
Oiwa is the ghost from Yotsuya Kaidan, Japan’s most famous ghost story. It’s the godfather of all Japanese ghost stories, because even though it’s by no means the oldest, it is the most influential. Many of the tropes you see in present-day Japanese horror were established with this kabuki play.

Yotsuya Kaidan is a pretty long and twisted story, so in this post I tried to focus primarily on Oiwa herself, with her story being the focus (insomuch as her story revolves around her terrible husband). So the side plots are not included. Maybe one day I’ll have a chance to do a comic version of the whole of Yotsuya Kaidan…

Anyway that’s all I’ll say for now. Her story is pretty tragic so I’ll let it do the talking.



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Greetings yokai (and yurei) fans!Tonight I bring you Okiku, an amazing ghost story, and one of the most well known ghost stories in Japan. If you’re a fan of Japanese ghost movies, you can’t help but notice the similarities between this and modern ghost movies like The Ring. The influence of this story lives on strong today. I hope you enjoy it!

I’ll be in the UK for summer vacation for one week starting tomorrow, so there will be a brief pause between this post and the next one. But once I get back I’ll bring you the next ghost story right away! Until then, here is Okiku:



This post was originally featured on Patreon. If you like ghost stories and want to hear more, please consider joining my Patreon project to help support my illustrations and translations.

August Yokai Plans

Greetings yokai fans!

August is here! August is of course the month of Obon, which is when the spirits of the dead return to the living world to be with their families. It’s the season when ghost stories play on late night TV, and when new horror movies come out. It’s the season of hyakumonogatari kaidankai!

Although I hate the heat, I love the mood. And I hope I can share some of that mood with you guys.

This month, instead of typical yokai, I am going to focus on yurei, or ghosts. I’ve done a few ghost stories in the past, and I actually did some of this month’s ghosts long ago on my blog, but it’s time for a refresher (and I’d also like to put them into this format, for inclusion in my next book).

This month we’ll be looking at four famous ghosts. The first three make up “The Three Great Ghosts of Japan”: Oiwa, Okiku, and Otsuyu. The final ghost, Kasane, is part of the “The Three Great Ghosts of the Edo Period,” which also includes Oiwa and Okiku, but leaves out Otsuyu (her story originally comes from China).

Kickstarter Plans

As of July, my Patreon project has produced 74 yokai! That’s amazing! This is all thanks to you guys and your generous support. At the end of this month, we’ll be at 78. I have said that once we reach 100 yokai, I plan on launching a Kickstarter to put them into a printed book, so now I am starting to make plans for that.

I’ll be launching a Kickstarter in October to raise the funds to cover printing costs, just like I did with my first two books. Since October is A-Yokai-A-Day month, it makes sense to use the extra attention my blog gets at that time to promote the Kickstarter.

The title of this book is going to be “The Book of the Hakutaku.” Each book so far has been based off of a yokai event or concept which I think is cool, and also hints at the idea of a book choc full o’ yokai. The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, of course, does that, and The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits does too, while also implying a darker, scarier tone. The Book of the Hakutaku was a list of all the yokai in the world, given by a hakutaku to the emperor of China long ago. I think that matches very well with the collection of yokai I’ve covered in the Patreon project. We’ve looked at a lot of yokai from India, China, even all the way from Zanzibar! in addition to native Japanese yokai. So just as the original Book of the Hakutaku contained yokai from all around the world, the Patreon project has covered yokai from all over. A fitting name, I think.

I’ll be putting the Kickstarter project together later this month and tweaking it throughout September to prepare for the October launch. Stay tuned to my blog, social media, and especially my Patreon page for more info on the project launch!

Yonaki baba

Greetings yokai fans!

It’s the end of the month, and I bring you the final yokai of this month: yonaki baba. She’s a pretty simple and straightforward yokai, which makes it much easier to translate. 🙂

I was first attracted to this yokai because of the outrageously silly illustration of it as it appears in the Buson youkai emaki (incidentally this scroll also gave us the outrageously silly shirime).

I used that as my model, as I like to stick to the source material as much as possible, but I did try to make her a bit more sad looking. The Buson nakibaba looks so happy, and I wanted to make it a bit more ambiguous as to whether she is mocking or genuinely sad for those she haunts, because the folklore doesn’t agree on whether it’s one or the other.

Anyway, here she is!

Yonaki babā

nakibabaaThis post originally appeared on Patreon.com. You can share in my joy and her sadness by becoming a Patreon supporter. Help support my yokai work for only $1 per month!


Greeting yokai fans!

Today I present tenjoname, the ceiling licker. I’m pretty sure my house has had a tenjoname in it at some point, because our ceilings are covered in spots. At first we thought they were water stains from a leaky roof, but now… now I’m pretty convinced it was a tenjoname after all. (I’m pretty sure we have a sakabashira as well, so this house is clearly yokai-friendly.)



This post originally appeared on Patreon.com. Have your ceilings cleaned by a yokai for free by becoming my Patreon supporter. Starts at only $1 per month!

Shumoku Musume

Greetings yokai fans!

Today I present to you shumoku musume, or “hammer girl.”

I fell in love with this yokai the first time I saw her, in one of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s prints. Although there’s no description of her in that print, I really wanted to find out more of that strange, snail-like yokai in the background:

She’s actually quite a minor yokai, and is not the subject of any stories or legends. She appears in obake karuta, however, and that is her main claim to fame. While she doesn’t do much except for maybe jump out and spook people, it’s her unique appearance that makes her so appealing, and I’m sure that’s why she was included in the obake karuta.

What’s not to love about that?

Anyway, here she is:


Shumoku musume

This post originally appeared on Patreon.com. Win a date with shumoku musume by becoming a backer for only $1 per month!


Greetings yokai fans!

It’s been a while since the last post, but I am excited to share with you the appossha! Although this is a winter yokai, I thought it might help to keep you cool in this unquenchable summer heat!

I think that appossha is a really interesting yokai for a number of reasons. First of all, he is a super local yokai, found only in one tiny hamlet here in Fukui prefecture. He’s so local that people in Fukui who aren’t from that village hardly even know of him.

Koshino, Fukui, pop. ~1700 -> probably the same as the number of people who have heard of appossha.

So I love this yokai because he’s so local and so unknown, and also because he’s from Fukui, where I live. But more than that, I love what this yokai represents.

You can read about his origins on yokai.com, so I won’t repeat them here, but I just love the story of how this yokai came about. It’s one of those things where you can visualize almost exactly what happened in your mind’s eye: some foreign-speaking fisherman with only a smattering of Japanese, crawling out of the icy waters, red-faced, covered in sea weed, and banging from door to door begging in his broken language for some food. Of course children would be scared! And yet, when offered food and warmth, he turns out to be not monstrous at all.

What’s more, this yokai is a remnant of a lost aspect of folk religion, which has been blended and absorbed into modern traditions, but can be seen pretty clearly in this example.

The marebito religion is a concept that was put forward by folklorist Orikuchi Shinobu, a student of Yanagita Kunio. It describes a set of folk beliefs centered around what could be described as worship of “the stranger.” It describes an archetypal folk belief found in which a spirit from the world of the dead visits a village, and is offered food, shelter, etc. Yokai like the appossha and the namahage are perfect examples of this, but we also see some elements of this ancient folk religion in the festival of Obon, where the dead are welcomed back to the world of the living for one day. Although this isn’t a “religion” in the sense of having a doctrine or scriptures, it does describe a common set of practices seen throughout Japan, which still echo in contemporary Japanese culture.

Even pop culture can echo this, as we see in the scene where No Face enters the bath house in Spirited Away. No Face himself could be an example of a marebito; he is an unknown creature from an unknown land (unknowable, even, as he wears a mask — just as yokai like appossha wear masks). He brings gifts to the other guests at the bathhouse, but he also brings danger and threatens them. He’s welcomed in a ritualistic way with a song and a ceremonial parade. It’s clear that the storytellers did their research!

This sort of folk belief is of course not restricted to Japan. We see parallels in folk religions all over the world. Masks have been used as important religious devices all across the ancient world, and the concept of the stranger from another world is found all over folk lore, religion, and literature. They worship “the stranger” in the fantasy religion of Westeros. Heck, the movie E.T. is almost a perfect parallel to this type of story.

Well, that may be stretching it a bit, but it’s clear there is something deeply, profoundly human that can be found even in a little-known, somewhat goofy yokai like appossha.




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