Youkai

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Youkai (妖怪, "mystic apparition" or "mysterious calamity") is a term used to refer to Japanese folk creatures and ghosts, or to supernatural beings in general. Because there are thousands of stories of magical beings around the world, the different types of youkai are endless.

The term youkai is sometimes used interchangeably with obake (お化け, roughly "one that takes on a form"), meaning things which have undergone some kind of supernatural change, beings with shapeshifting powers, or phantoms and ghosts. It is a common Japanese belief that after a certain amount of time, ordinary objects and animals gain life and personality, becoming a kind of youkai. In some cases even a normal human can become a youkai under the right conditions or vice versa.

Youkai in Len'en[edit]

Youkai in Mugenri have varying locations. While some live within the dens or just out in the wilderness (such as Shou Amanomori), they are perfectly capable of residing in cities like Devanagara as well.[1]

It's rather uncommon (although not impossible) for youkai to mature after coming into existence.[2] It is also known that certain youkai hibernate during winter, although it may not be absolutely necessary, such as in Adagumo no Yaorochi's case.[3]

Types of Youkai[edit]

Shikigami

Shikigami (式神) are godlike spirits that provide different services for an onmyouji master, some shikigami were originally youkai themself even prior to entering a contract with their master.

Phenomenon-Based Youkai

Some youkai are based on or manifestations of various natural phenomena:

Animal Youkai

Certain youkai are based on various living beings, although it is unsure whether they are born youkai, or transformed from animal to youkai. They are capable of transforming between animal and humanoid forms.[4]

Orochi

The Orochi (大蛇, lit. "Giant Snake") are a race of snake-like youkai who descended from Orochi.

Gashadokuro

The Gashadokuro (がしゃどくろ) was a large skeleton youkai born from a massive gathering of skeletons of those who died in war and those who didn't receive a proper burial.

Ghosts

Ghosts (幽霊, yūrei, lit. "ethereal soul/spirit") is a general term used to refer to incorporeal entities that are most typically tied to nature, a person's soul, or the afterlife.

Oni

The Oni () are youkai in Japanese legends known for their immense strength, and are commonly portrayed as having horns on their head and carrying large iron clubs. Similar to ogres or trolls in western folklore.

Tsukumogami

A tsukumogami (付喪神) is a type of youkai produced from a tool or object inhabited by a god or a spirit.

Other Youkai
  • Youkai Haniwa (化け埴輪, Bake Haniwa): Sukune Katano is a youkai based on Haniwa (埴輪, lit. "circle of clay"[a]), terracotta clay figures which were made for ritual use and buried with the dead as funerary objects during the Kofun period in Japan. It is unclear whether Sukune was born of a haniwa statue or is simply a youkai manifestation of the concept. It is said that the haniwa made by Sukune are perfect vessels for divine spirits (神霊, Shinrei).
  • The Harujion (ハルジオン): A youkai philadelphia fleabane that occasionally blooms within Mugenri.
  • Tsugumi Umatachi: Tsugumi's race has been listed as both an "oseibo jockey" and a "harvest festival jockey", but it is unclear what type of youkai they are.

Characters under this Bestiary[edit]

Additional Information[edit]

  • Despite sharing many similarities with animal youkai, Kaisen Azuma insists that they are referred to as a sacred animal (霊獣, Reijū) instead of a youkai.

See Also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. A reference to how haniwa were arranged in a circle above the tomb.

References[edit]