Yōkai (妖怪, ‘strange apparition’) are a class of supernatural entities and spirits in Japanese folklore. In ‘Adventures of Takuan from Koto’, yokai are referenced in the books only once, in the context of demons ravaging the Earthen Realm during and after the Great Storm.
They hunted people, caught them and ate them on the spot. Infants were their most delicious food. As soon as a baby was left unattended, disembodied yokai spirits appeared and dragged the child away.
To protect mortals, the Jade Emperor brought seeds of good luck that were given to people by monks of three hundred monasteries.
Yōkai in Japanese Folklore
Yōkai often have animal features (such as the kappa, depicted as appearing similar to a turtle, and the tengu, commonly depicted with wings), but may also appear humanoid in appearance, such as the kuchisake-onna. Some yōkai resemble inanimate objects (such as the tsukumogami), while others have no discernible shape.
Yōkai are typically described as having spiritual or supernatural abilities, with shapeshifting being the most common trait associated with them. Yōkai that shapeshift are known as bakemono (化け物) or obake (お化け).
Japanese folklorists and historians explain yōkai as personifications of ‘supernatural or unaccountable phenomena to their informants.’ In the Edo period, many artists, such as Toriyama Sekien, invented new yōkai by taking inspiration from folk tales or purely from their own imagination. Today, several such yōkai (such as the amikiri) are mistakenly thought to originate in more traditional folklore.
If you want to know more about different creatures and things of Anno Ruini Universe, you must visit the Anno Ruini Glossary.