From the mists of prehistory to the present day, Japan has always had stories of fantastic monsters. There are women with extra mouths in the backs of their heads, water goblins whose favorite food is inside the human anus, elephant-dragons which feed solely on bad dreams, baby zombies, talking foxes, fire-breathing chickens, animated blobs of rotten flesh that run about the streets at night, and the dreaded hyakki yagyo: “the night parade of one hundred demons”—when all of the yokai leave their homes and parade through the streets of Japan in one massive spectacle of utter pandemonium.
What are yokai? Put simply, they are supernatural creatures of Japanese folklore. The word in Japanese is a combination of yo, meaning “bewitching,” and kai, meaning “strange.” The term encompasses monsters, demons, gods (kami), ghosts (bakemono), magical animals, transformed humans, urban legends, and other strange phenomena. It is a broad and vague term. Nothing exists in the English language that quite does the trick of capturing the essence of yokai.
This field guide contains over 100 illustrated entries covering a wide variety of Japanese yokai. Each yokai is described in detail—including its habitat, diet, origin, and legends—based on translations from centuries-old Japanese texts.
This book was first funded on Kickstarter in 2011 and then revised in 2015.
The book is 224 pages, with over one hundred full-color paintings. Inside the book you will find all of the following yokai: Abura sumashi, Akaname, Aka shita, Ame onna, Ao andon, Ao nyōbō, Aosagibi, Azuki arai, Azuki babā, Azuki hakari, Bakekujira, Bakeneko, Bakezōri, Baku, Basan, Betobetosan, Biwa bokuboku, Chōchin obake, Chōpirako, Daitengu, Dorotabō, Funayūrei, Futakuchi onna, Garappa, Gashadokuro, Hari onago, Hitodama, Hitotsume kozō, Hitotsume nyūdō, Hone onna, Hōō, Hyakki yagyō, Hyakume, Hyōsube, Isonade, Iso onna, Itachi, Ittan momen, Jatai, Jorōgumo, Jubokko, Kage onna, Kama itachi, Kamikiri, Kappa, Karakasa kozō, Katawaguruma, Kawauso, Kerakera onna, Keukegen, Kijimunā, Kijo, Kirin, Kitsune, Kitsunebi, Kodama, Koma inu, Koromodako, Kosode no te, Kotengu, Koto furunushi, Kuchisake onna, Mikoshi nyūdō, Mokumokuren, Mujina, Nekomata, Ningyo, Nopperabō, Nozuchi, Nukekubi, Nuppeppō, Nurarihyon, Nure onago, Nure onna, Nuribotoke, Ohaguro bettari, Oni, Onibi, Onryō, Ōnyūdō, Otoroshi, Reiki, Rokurokubi, Seto taishō, Shami chōrō, Shiro uneri, Shōjō, Shōkera, Suzuri no tamashii, Taka nyūdō, Taka onna, Tanuki, Tatsu, Tsuchigumo, Tsurube otoshi, Ubume, Umi bōzu, Ushi oni, Usutsuki warashi, Uwan, Waira, Wa nyūdō, Yamabiko, Yamauba, Yamawaro, Yuki onna, Yūrei, and Zashiki warashi.
Each yokai has a detailed description based on translations of documents hundreds of years old, and an illustration based on classical descriptions, woodblock prints, and paintings from throughout Japanese history. You won’t find any other book on yokai with this many monsters in it; let alone this many color illustrations! Here’s a few preview pages from the book so you can get a feel for what the whole thing looks like: