Ayakashi (yōkai)

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"Ayakashi" from the Konjaku Hyakki Shūi by Sekien Toriyama

Ayakashi (アヤカシ) is the collective name for yōkai that appear above the surface of some body of water.[1]

In Nagasaki Prefecture, the atmospheric ghost lights that appear above water are called ayakashi, and the funayūrei in Yamaguchi Prefecture and Saga Prefecture are also called this.[1] In western Japan, ayakashi are said to be the vengeful spirits of those who died at sea and are attempting to capture more people to join them.[2] On Tsushima Island, they are also called "atmospheric ghost lights of ayakashi (ayakashi no kaika)",[3] and appear on beaches in the evening, and appear as if a child were walking in the middle of a fire. In coastal Japan, atmospheric ghost lights appear as mountains and obstruct one's path, and are said to disappear if one does not avoid the mountain and tries to bump into it intently.[4]

There is also the folk belief that if a live sharksucker gets stuck to the bottom of a boat, it would not be able to move, so ayakashi is a synonym for this type of fish.[5]

In the Konjaku Hyakki Shūi by Sekien Toriyama, the ayakashi are represented by a large sea snake, but this may actually be an ikuchi.[1]

Legend in China[edit]

In the Kaidanoi no Tsue, a collection of ghost stories from the Edo period, there was as stated below.[6] It was in Taidōzaki, Chōsei District, Chiba Prefecture. A certain ship needed water and went up to land. A beautiful woman scooped up water from a well and returned to the boat. When this was said to the boatman, the boatman said, "There is no well in that place. A long time ago, there was someone who needed water and went up to land in the same way and went missing. That woman was the ayakashi." When the boatman hurriedly set the ship to sea, the woman chased after him and bit into the hull of the ship. Without delay, they drove it away by striking it with the oar, and were able to escape.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 村上健司編著 (2000). 妖怪事典. 毎日新聞社. p. 28. ISBN 978-4-620-31428-0.
  2. ^ 高田衛監修 稲田篤信・田中直日編 (1992). 鳥山石燕 画図百鬼夜行. 国書刊行会. p. 218. ISBN 978-4-336-03386-4.
  3. ^ 多田克己 (1990). 幻想世界の住人たち. Truth in fantasy. IV. 新紀元社. p. 181. ISBN 978-4-915146-44-2.
  4. ^ 井之口章次 (1965). "長崎県対馬西北部の見聞 (7)". In 西郊民俗談話会編 (ed.). 西郊民俗. 通巻35号. 西郊民俗談話会. p. 14.
  5. ^ 京極夏彦・多田克己編著 (2008). 妖怪画本 狂歌百物語. 国書刊行会. p. 303. ISBN 978-4-3360-5055-7.
  6. ^ 今野円輔 (2004). 日本怪談集 妖怪篇. 中公文庫. . 中央公論新社. pp. 77–78. ISBN 978-4-12-204386-2.

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