Japan is one of the countries with the greatest belief in the spiritual, from which countless legends and myths that have traveled the world derive. As a result, it is normal for many people to put their faith in the fact that Japanese ghosts exist. On many occasions, these stories have their origin in Shintoism, an aboriginal religion that worships the kami or gods of nature.
There are even so many urban legends about demons, ghosts, and terrifying entities that the selection is usually very difficult. Some become inspiration for the creators of manga and anime, deeply rooted in Japanese culture. On this occasion, andn Supercurioso we will learn about some of the most popular Japanese ghost stories. Join us!
The 5 most popular Japanese ghosts
You may already know some of them, just as there will be others that it is the first time you know of them. That is the level to which the stories about terrifying entities from Japan have reached.
1. The Skeleton Geisha
It is the myth called “Botan Doro” and is part of a Kabuki collection called “Lantern Tales”. The legend tells that a young samurai saw a beautiful geisha one night and fell in love with her. One day he confessed his love to her and she promised him eternal love.
Every night the beautiful geisha went to the warrior’s house to spend the night with him. But one night a friend of the samurai visited him and saw how he copulated with a skeleton.
Terrified by such an image, he asked a monk for help, which placed a protective seal in the samurai’s house that prevented the spirit from entering. So when night came, the amulet prevented the ghost from entering. However, the woman called out to the samurai with her sweet voice and he let her in.
Unfortunately, the next day the samurai’s corpse was in a tomb embracing a skeleton. To this day, it is considered one of the most terrifying Japanese urban legends.
2. Hoichi, the man without ears
This legend is found in a story by the British nationalized in Japan, “Lafcadio Hearn”. It was also made into a movie under the name “Kwaidan”, being one of the most popular Japanese ghosts.
Hoichi was a young monk who recounted every night with his harp the battles between two clans of samurai. One night the ghost of a warrior appeared to him and he suggested that he tell his beautiful story in the realm of the dead before his lord.
The monk agreed and for several nights traveled to the afterlife to tell the story. But when the monastery master finds out, he becomes very worried and he tells Hoichi that the ghosts want to take over his body.
Therefore, he indicates that he has to protect himself from them in the following way: The monks paint a mantra all over his body that will make him invisible to ghosts. This was considered a tradition in Japan.
The next morning, the monks found Hoichi bleeding to death, as it turns out they had forgotten to paint his ears with the mantra. Thanks to that, the ghost took advantage and cut them off to take them to his lord.
3. Onibaba, the mask of the devil: one of the most famous Japanese ghosts
It is a story from the Japanese Middle Ages that was made into a film by Kaneto Shindo in 1964. It’s about 2 women who murdered and robbed everyone who passed by their house. One fine day the youngest fell in love with one of his victims and refused to kill him.
The other put on a devil mask to make him believe it was an evil spirit and kill him. The terrified girl did. However, when her partner wanted to remove her mask, she could not. He tried it with a hammer and when he discovered his face he was unrecognizable, he was a real demon.
4. The Yōkai: the most common Japanese ghosts
The yōkai are living beings, but they do not become human.. They are part of the traditional stories of folklore, as well as much of Japanese culture. In addition, they usually have appearances in anime, coming to represent a Pokémon. On the other hand, they have also been a star in films such as Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro or one of the best known, Spirited Away from Studio Ghibli.
Depending on the role they play in Japanese mythology, these creatures take on different appearances. Namely, they can be animals, ogres, demons, even becoming objects or human transformations.
One of the curiosities of the yōkai is that their nature is not defined, because they become harmless, adorable, but at the same time terrifying, bordering on the violent and harmful. In addition, they have the advantage that physical damage does not affect them, so they tend to adopt an arrogant and mocking attitude. Following the story about these Japanese ghosts, if you find yourself being harassed by a yōkai, the most feasible thing to do is ask for the help of a monk who has the blessing of the Buddha.
5. The Yūrei, one of the most notorious Japanese legends
It is the Japanese version of what the rest of the world knows as a ghost, so its appearances are very frequent. The difference is that, in the West, these beings are barely noticeable in the physical world. That is, they manifest themselves by opening doors and windows or moving objects until they knock them down, but they are always harmless. Also, the belief is that they are souls that seek to solve something that during their life they could not finish.
On the other hand, the yūrei of Japan, are human souls that were trapped in his body. That means that they remain on earth, tortured by a constant feeling of resentment, hatred and in some cases, love.
It is frequent that her normal appearance in manga, anime and paintings is of a woman with long white clothes, accompanied by extensive black hair and a disfigured face. Additionally, they are often dangerous entities, since they are consumed by a thirst for revenge against anyone who has caused them suffering in life. This feeling will only go away when you have met your goal.
It is also said that they are spirits that did not undergo the corresponding ceremony after they lost their lives, which would condemn them to wander until dawn. They are identified thanks to the fact that they are usually dressed in a white kimono and have very long black hair.
What did you think of these Japanese ghosts? You may have seen one in your favorite anime series and didn’t even realize it. There is no doubt that the Japanese culture It is one of the richest when it comes to paranormal. Do you know any other stories? Let us know in the comments!