There will be ghosts! What is the difference between “Mononoke”, “Ayakashi” and “Ghost”? Japan, the land of ghosts


There will be ghosts! ・・・Is there a difference between “ghost”, “mononoke”, “ayakashi” and “ghost”?


I agree! ・You want to know the difference and history of ghosts, mononoke, ayakashi (youkai), and ghosts!



Yokai Watch, the half-man, half-fish monster “Amabie”, manga, the Internet, and more, there are so many “yokai” around us! But why do Japanese people love yokai so much?


I will answer these questions.


There will be ghosts! What is the difference between “Mononoke”, “Ayakashi” and “Ghost”? Japan, the land of ghosts


Scary ghost stories and ghosts are indispensable as a summer tradition in Japan. In Japan, “ghosts”, “yokai”, “mononoke”, and “ghosts” have appeared in history books and folk stories since ancient times, and their existence has been handed down. Its extraordinary world view and thrilling horror still fascinates and is loved by people today.

This article summarizes the differences and history of ghosts, yokai, and ghosts.

In addition, we will introduce representative ghosts and youkai. If you know this, ghost stories should feel more interesting.

■What you can learn from reading this article
・You can understand the difference between ghosts, mononoke, ayakashi (youkai), and ghosts.
・You can see the history of ghosts.
・You can see the half-man, half-fish monster “Amabie”.

A ghost has appeared! “What is a ghost?”


Obake is a general term for peculiar things such as ghosts and youkai.

It is said to be “something that has changed into something else that is very different from its original form.” And it seems that ghosts and youkai are also included in obake.

The “something” that transforms into a ghost can be an object or an animal, and examples that are easy to understand are the “mottainai ghost” that appears when you waste things and the ghostly cat.

That’s why when you come across something scary, you say, “There’s a ghost!”



Ghosts, youkai, and mononoke are all haunted!



A ghost has appeared! “What is an ayakashi (youkai)?”

A yokai is a non-human or animal disguised as something that appears in a specific place and threatens any opponent.

It is also called “Ayakashi” or “Mononoke”. It appears from a specific location and is said to intimidate anyone indiscriminately.

Umibozu is the sea, Kappa is the river, and Yamanba is the mountain. In addition, “mysterious phenomena beyond human comprehension and beings that cause them” are also called yokai.

By the way, the shikigami used by Onmyoji are also included in yokai.

Since ancient times, it has been believed that spirits reside in all natural objects. It is believed that natural disasters beyond the reach of humans have been explained by blaming supernatural beings.

By the way, unlike ghosts, yokai are said to be “alive”.


A ghost has appeared! What are ghosts?

A ghost is a “spirit of a dead person” or “a figure of a soul that has not been able to attain enlightenment.” It is said that the deceased, who have grudges and grudges against this world and are unable to attain peace, become ghosts and appear in front of people with whom they have a connection.

It also has the characteristic of appearing in front of people or places with a connection because it is not possible to go to the other world due to grudges or grudges in this world. By the way, when the grudge is resolved or the desire is fulfilled, it is said that it will disappear, that is, it will disappear.

I’m human by nature.

Famous ghosts include Oiwa-san from Yotsuya Kaidan and Kiku-san from Bancho Sarayashiki.

By the way, the “ghost employees” who sometimes exist in the company are not ghosts!

Conclusion: The Difference Between Obake, Mononoke, Ayakashi (Yokai), and Ghosts

A ghost is something that has changed. Including ghosts and yokai.
Ghosts are originally human. Dead.
Yokai are non-human things that have changed. alive.

A ghost has appeared! “History of Ayakashi (Yokai)”

Let’s look at the definition of yokai again.

Yokai = things that have changed from non-human animals or things
[Appearance location] Specific locations such as mountains, rivers, seas, roads, old mansions, etc.

It is said that yokai first appeared in the history books “Kojiki” and “Nihon Shoki” from the Nara period. Yamata no Orochi (a serpent monster) and demons had already appeared around this time. On the other hand, there are also cases where youkai are worshiped as gods.


Youkai superpower Japan

No other country in the world has as many kinds of yokai as Japan.

We will introduce you to the traditional Japanese yokai, whose existence has been recognized by people since ancient times and which has many anecdotes. Among them, Oni, Kappa, and Tengu are known as “Japan’s three generations of yokai,” and are known to everyone as yokai that represent Japan.


Tengu: They live in the mountains, create wind, and throw stones at people walking.
Kappa… lives in rivers and draws in people who try to cross the river, pulling out their shirikodama.

  • Oni: An incarnation of a vengeful spirit, a man-eater, a keeper of hell, with a terrifying figure with horns on its head and fangs on its mouth, and a red or blue body with a metal club.
    Nue: Nue has a monkey’s head, a raccoon dog’s body, tiger’s limbs, and a snake’s tail. Cries at night and brings misfortune
    Nekomata: A monster cat with two tails. An incarnation of a long-lived cat, it is said to have magical powers.
    Umbrella Ghost (Karagasa Kozou): An old umbrella ghost that doesn’t do anything particularly bad, just likes to surprise people.本日6月11日は、日本洋傘振興協議会が定めた「傘の日」です。妖怪資料の中には、さまざまな傘の妖怪をみることができます。こちらは掛軸、根付、かるたの傘の化物たち。おどけたしぐさや表情に愛らしさもみえます。

  • Hitotsume-kozō: Lives in the mountains and fields, and surprises passers-by.
    Kitsunebi: Mysterious fire that can be seen in mountain villages. It is said to come out of the fox’s mouth.
    Konakijijii… lives in the mountains, cries with the voice of a baby, and if you hold it as an abandoned child, it becomes heavy like a stone and clings to you.
    Azuki Washing: Lives in rivers, attracts attention by making the sound of washing azuki beans, and drops them into the river.
    Umibōzu: They live in the sea, destroy ships, and kidnap ship owners.
    Zashiki-warashi: They live in tatami rooms and storehouses, making noise and laughing. The god of the house that makes the house prosperous.



Half-man, half-fish monster “Amabie”

Amabie, a half-man, half-fish monster that is said to quell epidemics, is popular.

Related goods have been created one after another all over the country, and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has adopted it as a character calling for the prevention of new corona infections.


In mid-March 2020, Mizuki Production in Chofu City posted on Twitter the original black and white and color versions of Amabie drawn by Mr. Mizuki, saying, “I hope the modern epidemic will disappear.”

It became a buzz with over 100,000 retweets and over 240,000 “likes”.

The half-man, half-fish monster “Amabie” is from the late Edo period tile block owned by the Kyoto University Library.
In 1846, something that glowed every night appeared in the sea of Higo Province (now Kumamoto Prefecture). “For six years from this year, the countries will have good harvests, but disease will also be prevalent. Show my copy to the people as soon as possible.” The tile plate tells us that he left such a prophecy and went into the sea.

Mr. Mizuki, who has drawn many youkai such as “Gegege no Kitaro” and “Nihon Yokai Encyclopedia”, uses this tile version to draw a half-man half-fish monster “Amabie”.

決定版 日本妖怪大全 妖怪・あの世・神様

Shigeru Mizuki’s Yokai Encyclopedia is now available!
A complete preservation version that is a must-have for youkai fans, with over 200 new monsters and gods added. * This book is a re-edited and renamed version of “Illustrated Japanese Yokai Encyclopedia” (published in June 1994 by Kodansha + α Bunko) and “Illustrated Japanese Yokai Daikan” (published in July 2007).


I would be happy if you could refer to it even a little.
Thank you for reading to the end.

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