AI Yōkai

AI Yōkai (AI 妖怪) is a dictionary of monsters from Japanese folklore, whose images have been generated by me using the artificial intelligence program Midjourney. Their appearance sometimes deviates from the traditional form, and computer-generated artifacts and distortions often make them even more frightening. Enjoy!

Akaname・垢嘗

Meaning "filth licker". They are monsters who licks off 👅 filth in untidy bathrooms. Here they are pictured in a dirty bathtub 🛁 and in Japanese onsen (hot spring bath) or sentō (public bath).

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Amabie・アマビエ

A legendary Japanese mermaid 🧜‍♀️ who supposedly emerges from the sea, predicts either a bountiful harvest or an epidemic, and instructs people to make copies of her likeness to defend themselves against disease. (During the COVID-19 pandemic amabie became a popular topic in Japan.)

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Chōchin-obake・ 提灯お化け

Paper latern ghost 👻.

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Gashadokuro・餓者髑髏

Literally "starving skeleton". Giant skeletons 💀, said to be created from the ghosts of the people who died in a battle. Desire for vengeance causes the Gashadokuro to roam at night, grabbing travelers and biting off their heads to drink their blood. There is a way to know of their approach, as the victim would hear the sound of loud ringing caused by the rattling of its teeth.

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Jubokko・樹木子

A vampiric tree that grows on old battlefields.

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Kasa-obake・傘お化け

A possessed umbrella ☂️ monster.

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Kappa・河童

Means "river-child".  Amphibious water monster who loves to eat cucumbers 🥒 and engage in sumo wrestling. They are often accused of assaulting humans in water. In the first picture we can see a baby kappa, I think. Kappa life-cycle is probably not researched enough 🙂

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Kitsune・狐

 Foxes 🦊 that possess paranormal abilities that increase as they get older and wiser. According to yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form (usually beautiful women). Kitsune are believed to possess superior intelligence, long life, and magical powers. They are servants of the powerful god Inari. 

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Kodama・木霊

 Spirits that inhabit trees. The term is also used to denote a tree 🌳 in which a kodama supposedly resides. Cutting down 🪚 a tree which houses a kodama is thought to bring misfortune.

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Koromodako・ころもだこ

A gigantic octopus-like 🐙 yōkai that lives in the sea waters bordering Kyoto and Fukui. There is also another octopus-like monster, Akkorokamui (アッコロカムイ) from Ainu folklore, which lives near Hokkaido.

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Nekomata・猫又

A shape-shifting cat 🐱 spirit. Since the Edo period, it has become generally believed in Japan that domestic cats turn into nekomata as they grow old.

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Nukekubi・抜け首

A human-like monster whose head detaches and flies through the air when the body sleeps at night. Nukekubi sometimes perform evil acts, such as attacking at night and drinking the blood 🩸 of their victims. They are often confused with the rokurokubi (ろくろ首), whose neck merely extends.  (I have not been able to generate a satisfactory picture of rokurokubi yet 😀.)

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 Nurikabe・塗り壁

A huge, usually invisible, yōkai that blocks the path of travellers at night like a large ghostly wall.

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Oni・鬼

The classic Japanese demon. It is an ogre-like 👹 creature which often has horns. Oni are mostly known for their fierce and evil nature manifested in their propensity for murder and cannibalism.

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Ōmukade・おおむかで

A giant human-eating centipede that lives in the mountains.

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Shiranui・不知火

A mysterious flame 🔥 seen over the seas.

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Tanuki・狸

The Japanese raccoon dog 🦝. In folklore, tanuki have the ability to shapeshift into human form. Here we have tanuki in urban setting (like riding the Yamanote subway line in Tokyo) and in the coutryside.

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Tanuki

Tengu・天狗

Tengu are dangerous spirits of the mountains and forests. They were believed to take the form of predatory birds and were depicted as creatures combining human and avian features. In the oldest images, tengu are shown with beaks, which were later transformed into unnaturally long noses in the process of anthropomorphization, giving rise to the modern popular image of tengu 👺

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Umibōzu・海坊主

Means "sea priest". A sea spirit that always appears during calm waters and fair weather. Its sudden emergence from the ocean causes big waves 🌊 and strong winds, sometimes overturning and breaking ships.

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Ushirogami・後神

The name means "spirit coming from behind". It's covered with black hair and has a large single eyeball. Ushirogami's favorite tactic is to scare people by jumping out and appearing right behind them. They particularly like going after young women walking the streets at night. Ushirogami is thought to be a spirit that specifically targets cowardly people.

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Yuki Onna・雪女

Meaning "snow woman". A malevolent spirit that manifests as a pretty woman wandering snowy ❄️ mountain passes. She is at the same time beautiful and serene, yet ruthless in killing unsuspecting mortals.

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Yurei・幽霊

Ghosts 👻 in a more Western sense. If the person dies in a sudden or violent manner such as murder or suicide and the proper funeral rites have not been performed, or if they are influenced by powerful emotions such as a desire for revenge, love, jealousy, hatred or sorrow, their spirits can get back from afterlife to the physical world.

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Yurei・幽霊

Thank you for watching!

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Maciej Lipiec is an approved Educational Partner of the Interaction Design Foundation, the world’s largest UX Design learning community.
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Maciej Lipiec is an approved Educational Partner of the Interaction Design Foundation, the world’s largest UX Design learning community.
Get 3 months of free membership to learn UX Design here!

Maciej Lipiec is an approved Educational Partner of the Interaction Design Foundation, the world’s largest UX Design learning community.
Get 3 months of free membership to learn UX Design here!

Maciej Lipiec is an approved Educational Partner of the Interaction Design Foundation, the world’s largest UX Design learning community.
Get 3 months of free membership to learn UX Design here!

Maciej Lipiec is an approved Educational Partner of the Interaction Design Foundation, the world’s largest UX Design learning community.
Get 3 months of free membership to learn UX Design here!

© Maciej Lipiec 2007-2022 

© Maciej Lipiec 2007-2022 

© Maciej Lipiec 2007-2022 

© Maciej Lipiec 2007-2022