Yōkai (妖怪, ghost, phantom, strange apparition) are a class of supernatural monsters in Japanese folklore. 妖怪(ようかい)は、日本で伝承される民間信仰において、人間の理解を超える奇怪で異常な現象や、あるいはそれらを起こす、不可思議な力を持つ非日常的な存在のこと。妖(あやかし)または物の怪(もののけ)、魔物(まもの)とも呼ばれる。

Bake Neko (化け猫, changing-cat)

Bakeneko (changing cat), in Japanese folklore are shape-shifting and often mischievous cats. Although some were known to benevolent and sometime helpful, many were known to be cruel and devour their human masters. There are several ways a cat can become a bakeneko. The most common tales say that the transformation happens when a cat becomes too big, lives past the average age, or it's tail becomes too long and splits in two.

Not all bakeneko were malevolent. In fact some were quite benign saviors. One tale tells of a famous geisha who had a cat that tried attacked its owner, trying in vain to swipe at her ankles. The geisha the killed the cat, only to have the cats spirit come back. It wasn't until after the cat then killed a snake that was hidden near the woman's feet that she realized the cat was trying to save her all along.
化け猫 changing-cat

Naoko Nozawa

化け猫 changing-cat

Naoko Nozawa

Kuchisake onna (口裂け女, a Slit-Mouthed Woman)

Kuchisake Onna (slit-mouthed woman) is a frightfully gory-looking ghoul. The original legend from about 1,000 years ago tells of a woman who was married to a samurai. She was extremely vain and proud, and he was jealous and distrustful. He believed she was cheating on him, so he slit her mouth from ear to ear. "Who will find you beautiful now?", he asked her. Following her death she roamed the countryside with a fan covering her face, asking passersby if they found her beautiful. If the traveler answered, "no" she would immediately kill them. If they answered, "yes" she would move the obstructing fan to reveal her gaping, bloody wound. Upon showing her true self, she would ask the question again. If they answered, "no", she would slice them from ear to ear. If they answered, "yes", she would let them go, only to follow them home and kill them at their abode.
口裂け女 Kuchisake onna

Sho Murase / Mike Judge

口裂け女 Kuchisake onna

Sho Murase

Ningyo (人魚, a fish person or "mermaid")

Ningyo are much like a Japanese version of the mythological mermaid of the West. They are depicted as part-human and part-fish. Sometimes they have human-like arms and torso, but are often portrayed as a giant fish with only a human face. They are apparently extremely tasty creatures and will provide longevity in life when eaten, but they often bring ill-luck and disaster.

人魚, a fish person or mermaid

Kimi Werner

人魚, a fish person or mermaid

Kimi Werner

Yuki-onna (雪女, the snow woman)

Yuki Onna (Snow Woman) is a pale, spirit-like woman who represents the brutal and cold winter. She is often shown as a pale white woman in a white kimono with blue lips and long black hair. Yuki Onna is often a wrathful specter who leads hikers astray to their deaths in the chilling cold, or freezes the innocent with her ice-cold breath.

Yuki-onna (雪女, the snow woman)

Miya Ando

Yuki-onna (雪女, the snow woman)

Miya Ando