In Japan, the ghosts are called Yūrei (幽霊). The word means faint or dim and soul or spirit. And as well as language and cultures divides different types of ghost in different categories, so does the Japanese. Here are some of those.

Hauntings: There are a lot of creatures, entities that haunts in Japanese culture. But yūrei differs slightly from the others. They are for example the only ones haunting at a specific time, with the hour of the ox as a preference, which is from 2 to 2:30 am. This is when the veil between the dead and the living, the different worlds is at is thinnest. The yūrei is also more geographical bound than other entities, and with a specific purpose for the hauntings. Unfinished business or vengeance, being the most common perhaps. The real tragedy is when a spirit can never find peace, because their unfinished business can never be fulfilled.


This means a vengeful ghost. Driven by rage and consumed by revenge. This Yūrei will do anything to punish those who wronged them in life.

Read more about the Onryō 

Onryō – the vengeful Japanese spirit

In many cultures, ghosts are put in different categories. Such is the case with Onryō (怨霊 onryō,) It basically means “vengeful spirit” or “wrathful spirit” in Japanese and is a mythological spirit of vengeance from Japanese folklore. They also have ghosts, called yurei, but these differ in the will of the ghost. As opposed to the yurei, these ghosts doesn’t just get over their revenge thoughts.



Is sort of the same av an Onryō and often a Goryō ghost story is told as an Onryō. It is a vengeful spirit, capable of so much destruction and with a single goal in mind. But the Goryō was most often from the aristocratic or royal class when in life. And it is especially the case when those people were martyred or wronged, loosing their honor etc.


 Boatman and Funayūrei by Kawanabe Kyōsai (河鍋暁斎, Japanse, *1831, †1889)

This is the ghost of those dying at sea. It literary means boat spirit and is the same as an Onryō, only out at sea. Often fishermen, sailors and the likes, people dying in shipswreck and want other to join them in the deep sea.

They are described as being surrounded by an atmospheric light, so you can see them, even when they turn up on dark, foggy nights, rainy days and under the full or new moon. They can be described as ghost haunting the rivers and lake as well. At times, these ghost are shown as scaly fish-like, and pictures of them might be confused with mermaids or mermen.



Ubume うふめ from Bakemono no e (化物之繪, c. 1700), Harry F. Bruning Collection of Japanese Books and Manuscripts, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. source Date: circa 1700

This is the ghost of a mother who died in childbirth. It could also come if she died leaving very young children. This ghost differs a lot from the Onryō for example, for its purpose. It is not after revenge, but stays out of compassion, giving sweets and looking after her children she left behind. 

Those seeing her will see what looks like a pregnant woman pass by. Or she will approach you, telling you to hold her child, only for you to realize there isn’t a child, just a bundle of rocks or leaves.



This is what happens when children becomes ghosts. They are not really depicted as dangerous, but at times mischievous. They would do pranks, leaving prints in the kitchen and the likes, but it also meant good fortune for them who saw them. But what are they? Strange otherworldly child-like creatures, or spirits of children? It has been theories that they are the spirit of children that were killed when there were too many mouths to feed. It was tradition to be killed by a stone and buried in the dirt floor room called doma or in the kitchen.

Fuyūrei and Jibakurei

These to are very similar. They are spirit with no purpose, wandering aimlessly around, earth bound, often just going in circle and in a loop. Unable to find peace.


This is a very peculiar one and a bit on the side. It is when a part of the living soul or spirit leaves the body to haunt people or a specific place. Often across distances as well.


More like this

Newest Posts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s