Yokai Movies (genre)

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'Yokai, AKA Youkai, Yaoguai, Ayakashi (more properly thought of a water spirits and ghosts), Mononoke (demons and vengeful ghosts), Bakemono (shape-shifters), or Mamono (goblins/faeries and ghosts)



Yokai monsters from the Yokai Monsters movies

Film List

  • Yokai Monsters film series:
    • Yokai Monsters: One Hundred Monsters (1968) AKA Yôkai hyaku monogatari - The local yokai interfere to avenge a murder and thwart the plans of corrupt officials.
    • Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare (1968) AKA Yôkai daisensô and Great Monster War - When a Babylonian vampire comes to old Japan, an army of Japanese demons and ghosts gather and battle him.
    • Yokai Monsters: Along With Ghosts (1969) AKA Tôkaidô obake dôchû and Journey with Ghost Along Yokaido Road - The murder of an old man on sacred grounds provokes the intervention of vengeful yokai.
    • The Great Yokai War (2005) (a sort of remake of the 1968 Spook Warfare) - A young boy is chosen as the defender of good and must team up with Japan's ancient spirits and creatures of lore to destroy the forces of evil.
  • Kitaro series:
    • Kitaro (2007) - The half-human and half-yokai orphan Kitaro, dedicated to keeping the peace between the human and yokai worlds, tries to save a high school girl while preventing a stone with the power to control both worlds from falling into the wrong hands.
    • Kitaro and the Millennium Curse (2008) - Kitaro must resolve the problems that arise when human and Yokai collide in modern-day Japan by investigating a series of mysterious disappearances and a yokai conspiracy involving the return of a 1000-year curse.
  • Kaidan (ghost) movies:
    • Ghost-Cat of Arima Palace (1953) - A jealous concubine, begins torturing her apparent successor, eventually killing the girl, whose cat licks her mistress's blood and becomes a vengeful demon.
    • Ghost of Saga Mansion (1953) - A woman loses her son through an evil conspiracy and commits suicide. Shortly afterwards a ghost cat begins haunting the conspirators.
    • Ugetsu (1953) - In 16th century Japan, two peasants sell their earthenware pots to a group of soldiers in a nearby village, in defiance of a local sage's warning against seeking to profit from warfare. One peasant's pursuit of both riches and the mysterious Lady Wakasa, and the other's desire to become a samurai, run the risk of destroying both themselves and their wives.
    • Black Cat Mansion (1958) - The descendant of the servant of a cruel and vicious samurai returns to the town where she was born, only to find that a cat who is possessed by the spirits of those murdered by the samurai is trying to kill her.
    • The Ghost-Cat Cursed Wall (1958) - When a nobleman finds a woman to be an obstacle to his growing political influence, he kills her and her cat and has their bodies immured in a wall. Shortly afterwards, a catlike demon begins to haunt the castle.
    • The Ghost of Yotsuya (1959) - The ghost of a samurai's murdered wife takes revenge on her husband.
    • Jigoku (1960) - A group of sinners involved in interconnected tales of murder, revenge, deceit and adultery all meet at the Gates of Hell.
    • The Ghost Cat of Otama Pond (1960) - Two lovers lost in the mountains find themselves in a mysterious forest pond, as if some kind of force doesn't want to let them go.
    • The Ghost Story of Oiwa's Spirit (1961) - A complicated tale of cruel scheming, monstrous betrayal, and worse, leading up to madness, horror, death, and a terrifying haunting.
    • Kwaidan (1964 anthology) - An anthology of four ghost and yokai stories from Japanese folklore.
    • Onibaba (1964) - Two women kill samurai and sell their belongings for a living. While one of them is having an affair with their neighbor, the other woman meets a mysterious samurai wearing a bizarre mask.
    • Illusion of Blood (1965) - A samurai warrior is haunted by the spirit of his first wife.
    • Snake Woman's Curse (1968) - An old man dies of heartbreak when a cruel landlord is about to repossess his land. Since the man died in debt, the landlord indentures the man's wife and daughter as servants forced to work in the landlord's factory, incurring a terrible curse.
    • Peony Lantern (1968) - On the night of the summer Obon festival, a young man meets a beautiful courtesan and, not knowing she's a ghost, becomes infatuated by her.
    • Kuroneko (1968) - Two women are raped and killed by samurai soldiers. Soon they reappear as vengeful ghosts who seduce and brutally murder the passing samurai.
    • The Snow Woman (1968) - The lives of a master sculptor and his young apprentice are changed forever when they meet an evil witch during a snow storm.
    • Bakeneko: A Vengeful Spirit (1968) - An evil samurai murders his lord, seeking to gain power and steal his Lord’s wife. To avoid her fate, Lady Takafusa drowns herself along with her cat in a nearby marsh. A decade later, the samurai's efforts to steal another woman triggers a curse on him when she also commits suicide at the same marsh forcing him to suffer the consequences of his past actions.
    • The Ghost of Oiwa (1969) (AKA The Oiwa Phantom) - A masterless samurai is unhappy in marriage with his ailing wife Oiwa, and hates working for a living doing assembly piecework for umbrellas; falling in love with a corrupt doctor's granddaughter, the samurai convinces the doctor to help him poison his wife, triggering a gruesome series of events culminating in curses, madness, murders, and suicides, and a terrifying haunting or two.
    • Village of Eight Gravestones (1977) - The heir to a family fortune discovers that a curse has been placed on it, put there centuries before by a band of samurai warriors.
    • Curse of the Dog God (1977) - A man looking to mine uranium in a rural Japanese village has the wicked curse of the Dog God set upon him.
    • Empire of Passion (1978) - A married woman and her lover murder her husband and dump his body into a well. After a while, his ghost comes to haunt them while the local gossip grows stronger.
  • Anime:
    • Spirited Away (2001 film) - During her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts.
    • My Neighbor Totoro (1988 film) - When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wondrous forest spirits who live nearby.

"Lovecraftian" Analysis

In addition to the picturesque and unconventional Yokai spirits (a mix of ghosts, strange monsters, faeries, and malevolent gods), these stories frequently follow a Japanese ghost-story tradition roughly equivalent to Gothic horror.

Associated Mythos Elements

Keeper Notes

General Notes

Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • Popular Yokai:
    • Henge, strange animals both real and imaginary:
      • Nekomata: A seemingly ordinary cat that develops magical nature through long life.
      • Tanuki: A real animal also known as the "raccoon dog", treated in mythology as a shapeshifting trickster.
      • Kitsune: Foxes, treated in mythology as having great supernatural powers.
      • Orochi: A giant, multi-headed snake.
      • Inugami: Dog-gods. Usually malevolent, and often found serving as Familiars.
      • Okami: Wolf-gods. Sometimes pretend to be helpful to travelers, following at a safe distance to protect them from harm, but sometimes also capricious and evil; even the friendly ones will easily turn on human victims if mistreated or offended.
      • Baku: A relatively benign, tapir-like creature with an elephant-like nose with which it eats bad dreams.
      • Kamaitachi: Weasel-like creatures that attack in packs in ice-storms, personifying the pain of bitter cold.
      • Tsuchinoko: A snakelike creature with a fat body. It's mostly harmless to people, unless awoken from its sleep — in that case, its venom can fell a man instantly. Very swift and acrobatic, and occasionally said to be a compulsive liar with a fondness for alcohol.
      • Tsuchigumo: A monstrous shape-shifting spider-sorceror that can take human form to eat travelers, can also use illusions to keep his webs hidden and make people ill in order to feed on them.
      • Jorougumo: A monstrous, shape-shifting spider-woman who takes the form of a beautiful woman to lure unwary travelers with her beautiful body, face, and singing into her web to feed her offspring.
      • Nurikabe: a grotesque, vaguely dog-like, three-eyed creature that waylays travelers.
    • Tsukumogami: Inanimate objects that come to life after a hundred years. Well-known traditional examples include:
      • ittan-momen: animated, floating strip of cotton cloth
      • biwa-bokuboku and koto-furunushi: animated stringed musical instruments
      • burabura: animated paper lanterns
      • Karakasa: An old paper umbrella come to life.
      • Nurikabe: A monster that takes the form of an animate section of wall. It has the power to turn invisible, and likes to use this power to impede travelers.
      • Wanyuudou: A burning wheel, frequently with a man's/monk's face serving as the hubcaps. This bizarre entity is flies about at night in search of humans to slaughter on sight and kidnap their souls.
    • Humanoid faeries, ghouls, and spirits:
      • Rokurokubi: Seem human by day but have extremely elastic necks during the night.
      • Nukekubi: Can detach their heads from their necks and float away in search of human flesh and blood, as well as vermin and lamp oil.
      • Oni: A huge, muscular humanoid, similar to ogres.
      • Onryo: A vengeful female ghost, usually with long, stringy black hair and pale skin.
      • Tengu: Mountain-dwelling humanoids which either have long noses or resemble crows.
      • Yuki-onna: A pale snow spirit lady.
      • Zashiki-warashi: A childlike spirit that should be cared for to keep the one's house in good fortune.
      • Kappa: A "river goblin" resembling a cross between a monkey and a turtle.
      • Nyuudou: Youkai disguised as short, wizened, goblin-like men, commonly encountered dressed in hooded robes on roads where they waylay travelers, seeming to slowly grow unnaturally taller as they distract and disturb the traveler. By some accounts, if the traveler tilts his head back to look at a Nyuudou face-to-face as it grows, the creature will either laugh as the traveler falls backwards, or slash the travler's exposed throat and cut off his head.
      • Nuppeppo: A fleshy blob-creature that lumbers around in deserted places, mainly temples and graveyards. Has a smell comparable to that of rotting flesh, leading some to believe they are made of corpses. In spite of this, Nuppeppo are generally peaceful creatures.
    • Other:
      • Gashadokuro: A giant skeleton, it is born from the collected bones of many improperly-buried corpses, or corpses whose graves have been disturbed. The towering skeletons come out after midnight to drink the blood of whoever they can snatch up, their approach heralded by the rattling of bones, and their only weakness is a purifying ward. They are otherwise indestructible and sometimes can turn invisible.
      • Raiju: animated lightning or fire creature, usually represented as a ball of lightning with many tails and/or legs, poisonous claws, and bright yellow and black fur.
      • Hitodama: Wispy lights that hover around ghosts and possessed people.
  • Rituals:
    • chinkon: the calming of the spirits, a ritual for appeasing angry, offended, or malevolent Yokai spirits

Synopses (SPOILERS)