Yuki Onna, Zashiki Warashi, and Yōko, oh my!
In the world of Kiitaro’s yokai picture diary (Kiitarō Shōnen no Yōkai Enikki), the protagonist Kiitaro finds himself being visited by various yōkai–magical creatures from Japanese folklore–pretty much every day of his life. While a Japanese audience might be fairly well-versed on what each of these yōkai are, I’ve compiled a list of some of the ones you might need to know:
Zashiki Warashi (Suzu)
A Zashiki Warashi (seen left in the image above) is a yōkai that is somewhat similar to the brownie of European folklore. Zashiki Warashi live in houses and bring fortune to the residence they live in, but can take that fortune away when they leave. In return for the good luck they give, they are also known to play tricks on the residents of the dwelling they inhabit. In the anime, the Zashiki Warashi Suzu is the guardian who watches over Kiitaro, though she hasn’t been shown to play many tricks.
Yuki Onna and Yukinko (Yuki Onna & Yuki Musume)
The Yuki Onna (lit. snow woman) is a mysterious creature often depicted with pure white skin and wearing a kimono of the same color. It is said that the Yuki Onna is the spirit of a woman who perished in the snow, where she continues to linger and give ice cold glares. The Yukinko (lit. snow child) is depicted as the Yuki Onna’s companion, and is assumed to be a younger version of the yōkai. Just as the legends say, the Yuki Onna seen in the anime is just as calm and cold.
Yōko (Kitsune-men no Onna)
Yōko are nine-tailed fox spirits that love getting up to trouble. They are often depicted in tales as transforming into beautiful women–sometimes to seduce men and take their souls. In the anime, Kitsune-men no Onna (lit. Woman with the Fox Mask) does use her bosom as a weapon against Kiitaro, but is also protects the peace between the humans and yōkai. She does still love playing tricks, however.
Image Credit: Toriyama Sekien (Wikipedia)
A personification of the fear we all have of using the bathroom when it’s dark at night, Akaname are strange creatures that clean bathrooms at night… with their tongues. While it’s true that the Akaname in Kiitaro’s yokai picture diary does exactly this, he seems to be doing it more out of his obsession over Suzu rather than out of just yōkai instinct.
Image Credit: Kanō Tōrin (Wikipedia)
One of the yōkai Kiitaro encounters, the Nurikabe, is a creature that takes the form of a wall. Even if you try to walk around it or climb over, the wall it makes goes on forever, making any attempts at crossing it impossible. In the anime, Kiitaro eventually gets around it by making it trip over itself.
Kiitaro’s yokai picture diaryis available to watch for free on Crunchyroll as it airs in Japan. You can learn more about the show and the yokai in it on our Anime Basics page for the series.
©Riichi Kageyama/MICROMAGAZINE PUBLISHING Co.･Kiitarō Shōnen no Yōkai Enikki Production Committee