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 manga and anime xxxHolic, the zashiki warashi is represented as a character who developed feelings for the protagonist Kimihiro Watanuki.
- 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 Super Sentai series Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Zashiki-warashi is a minor monster of the day who refuses to fight for the Youkai Army Corps and befriends a group of kids and Ninja Black. He is under an evil spell until he manages to break free only to be killed by Gashadokuro and turns into a mushroom. He appears in Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, and Power Rangers Zeo as Bratboy who in Alien Rangers is the monster form of Farkas "Bulk" Bulkmeier and in Zeo has a cameo in Prince Gasket's Arena.
- in the anime Hetalia, a zashiki warashi appeared as a giggling spirit. When England had a sleepover at Japan's house he heard her voice and chased her, but when he told Japan what had happened, Japan replied that he lives alone.
- 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
- Kids web japan