Zashiki warashi (座敷童/座敷童子 zashiki warashi?), sometimes also called Zashiki bokko (座敷ぼっこ zashiki bokko?, sitting room basking), is a yōkai, stemming from Iwate Prefecture. It is similar to the Russian folk story of the Domovoi.
According to folklore, to attract and maintain a zashiki warashi in the home it is said that "the spirit must be noticed, appreciated and cared for properly, much in the manner one would raise a child, though too much attention may drive it off." As the zashiki warashi is child-like in nature, it is prone to playing harmless pranks and occasionally causing mischief. They might, for instance, "sit on a guest's futon, turn people's pillows over or cause sounds similar to kagura music to be heard from rooms no one uses." Sometimes they leave little footsteps in ashes. There are different variations as to who can see the zashiki warashi; usually this is limited to inhabitants of the house, sometimes to children.
The appearance of this spirit is that of a 5 or 6 year child with bobbed hair and a red face. Zashiki warashi can be found in well-maintained and preferably large old houses. It is said that once a zashiki warashi inhabits a house, it brings the residence great fortune; on the other hand, should a zashiki warashi depart, the domain soon falls into a steep decline.
The Ryokufūsō in Kindaichi-Onsen, which burned down on October 4, 2009, was famed for its zashiki warashi. Yōkai similar to zashiki warashi in other parts of Japan include the makuragaeshi in Ishikawa Prefecture, the akashaguma or kura bokko in Tokushima Prefecture and the akashaguma living in the Kotohira Shrine.
In Popular Culture
In the anime Mononoke, zashiki warashi were represented by small children who were killed in a brothel as a result of prostitution.
In the manga Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan - Demon Capital/Nurarihyon no Mago (Sennen Makyou), there is a zashiki warashi named Yukari.
In the anime White Album (visual novel), Zashiki Warashi is referenced many times.
In the anime Kimi ni Todoke, the protagonist was teased as a zashiki warashi when she was a child.
In the manga Hell Teacher Nūbē a zashiki warashi became attached to Nube-sensei.
In the show Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, a zashiki warashi takes the form of a boy with a mushroom who plays with children and befriended Jiraya/Ninja Black.
- warashi/ On Zashiki Warashi By Mizuki Shigeru, at hyakumonogatari.com
- The Last of the Zashiki warashi, Awa Life, March 2002
- The Story of Zashiki warashi no geta, Nanbu Kiri Geta Preservation Society
- The Ryokufūsō HOTEL Japan