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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogCute Yokai Spirits: Everything You Need to Know!

Cute Yokai Spirits: Everything You Need to Know!

By Charity McLaughlin
November 24, 2022
An illustration of a ghost cat yokai in a purple circle with paper lanterns, a moon and a jinja shrine.

In Japanese folklore, yokai are mystical spirits who often possess a unique gift or talent. Though some are harmful, there are many cute yokai spirits and they enjoy using their gifts to help humans! 

Yokai are spirits that originate from centuries of folklore in Japanese culture. While some are mischievous, many are cute, friendly spirits that enjoy helping humans. Their talents range from bringing good luck to providing protection from harm! 

Talents like luck or fortune are common, but some are more niche like spinning thread or dancing to music! Whatever the talent, it’s sure to be interesting. Here’s a general guide to some cute yokai spirits and how to interact with them!

An illustration of four different cute yokai spirits. One looks like an umbrella, a lantern, a man with a beak, one is a cyclops.
Yokai is a loose category of spirits in Japanese folklore. Image via Shutterstock

Neko no Odoriba, the Dancing Cat Spirit

Cats are always adorable, but there’s probably none more than neko no odoriba! The lore follows a cat who enjoyed exploring and each time he left home, napkins would disappear. One day, the cat’s owner heard music coming from a nearby building and decided to check it out. 

After investigating, he found a party of dancing cats where they wore the stolen napkins as party dresses. In some versions of the story, the cats play music too! 

A photograph of five dancing cat  figures amongst a starry sky. They portray the cute yokai spirits known as neko no odoriba.
Neko no odoriba love to get together to boogie with their friends like the cute yokai they are! Image via Shutterstock

This kitty yokai is still dancing to this day and can be seen in Kanagawa’s Odoriba subway station, where there are tons of hidden cat art and footprints to show the tracks of the kitties who once danced there. Though these cats may not give you good luck or fortune, nothing is cuter than a dancing cat! 

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Hahakigami, the Broom Spirit

When thinking of cute yokai spirits, a broom probably isn’t the first thing that pops up. However, in the realm of yokai, things are never as they seem. The hahakigami isn’t just an ordinary broom, it’s a broom yokai!

Hahakigami are adorable for many reasons but one of the purest is that during storms or windy mornings, they enjoy sweeping leaves that are flying about due to the heavy wind just for entertainment. What’s more adorable than that? 

An illustration of a broom spirit with wings and yellow eyes, sweeping with a broom. It's a very cute yokai.
Hahakigami are adorable broom yokai who are all about sweeping out bad energy! Art by NightmareSyrup.

Hahakigami can be great to keep around as they’re known for cleaning out whatever is unwanted such as unwanted guests or bad spirits. Today, they’re for childbirth to help ensure safe and quick delivery and at home. They’re also there to make sure visiting guests don’t overstay their welcome. Having a hahakigami around is always great to sweep out any bad or unwanted spirits. 

Zashiki Warashi, the Guestroom Children

If you ever come across a child traveling your home in a kimono, don’t be afraid! This may just be a zashiki warashi, or guest room children. They are child-like spirit bring good luck and fortune to the households they reside in. 

Telltale signs of this lucky guest are: ashen footprints left around the house, doors that open on their own, and strange noises or music coming from nowhere. Some even find fun in entertaining human children in the home.

An illustration of a smiling little girl wearing a pink kimono kneeling on a green tatami mat.
Zashiki warashi is a friendly child spirit. Image via Shutterstock

There are many variations of the zashiki warashi in folklore but they are almost always described the same. Child-like with white or red faces, they range from three to 15 and wear traditional Japanese clothing such as kimonos.

If you ever happen to host one in your home, be sure to treat them kindly and give them lots of attention and appreciation! Should they leave one’s home, the home’s residents are prone to bad luck and sometimes even injury or death. 

Don’t let that scare you though, they are easy to please and you can keep them happy with as little as a sweet treat occasionally. Despite their mischievous but friendly behavior, zashiki warashi spirits are some of the most lovable yokai! If you come across one, consider yourself incredibly lucky! 

Ouni, the Friendly Witch

Japan has beautiful mountains with amazing scenery, but they’re also home to the ouni yokai.  If you ever find yourself staying in the mountains in a secluded cabin, listen out for a sudden knock on the door as it may just be an ouni! 

An old painting of a haggard woman with a face of a red demon. She is an ouni, a type of witch who can also be considered a cute yokai.
Ouni are friendly cute yokai and will spin thread in exchange for lodging and a meal. Image via Wikicommons

Ouni usually appears as an older woman with an angry, haggard face and a large, hairy body.  Though this sounds like cause for concern, she isn’t harmful and really just wants lodging for the night. If you’re a gracious host and invite her in, she’ll spend her night spinning thread and creating beautiful fabrics as a thank you! 

Kappa, the River Spirit

Kappa are known in Japanese folklore for their mischievous behavior, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have kind traits too. These yokai are river spirits who often take the form of children. While they can be dangerous to humans, they love cucumbers and will be inclined to help you if you offer them some! 

An near green monochrome illustration of a kappa, a cute yokai with a body of a turtle and a yellow beak.
Kappa are intelligent water gods who know a lot about medicine. Image via Shutterstock

Kappa are relatively smart and they are able to learn many languages, so you may find yourself befriending one if it likes you. They have knowledge of many different fields and love skilled games and befriending lonely children. Just make sure to have a cucumber around if you ever bump into one, they are the key to seeing this yokai’s nice side! 

As you can see, there are all types of cute yokai spirits out there! Even if they don’t fit the typical kawaii image, their friendliness is sure to charm you and your friends even outside the spooky season!

So which of these yokai do you think are the cutest? Let us know in the comments below!

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