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The spirit of money (the archetype of Zashiki warashi) from Ugetsu Monogatari

The Zashiki-Warashi (Japanese: 座敷童 or 座敷童子, literally "guestroom child") sometimes also called Zashiki Bokko (Japanese: 座敷ぼっこ, literally "guestroom basker") is a Yōkai (Japanese: 妖怪, variously translated as "ghoul" or "goblin") originating from Iwate Prefecture.[1]

It is similar to the Russian folk story of the Domovoi.


The name breaks down to zashiki (Japanese: 座敷), a sitting room or parlor, usually with tatami flooring, and warashi (Japanese: 童子), an archaic term for a child, used particularly in the northeast of Japan.[2][3]


The appearance of this spirit is that of a 5 or 6 year child with bobbed hair and a red face.[4] Zashiki warashi can be found in well-maintained and preferably large old houses.[5] 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.[6]

As the zashiki warashi is child-like in nature, it is prone to playing harmless pranks and occasionally causing mischief. They are known for running around and making noise, even adjusting the bedding of overnight guests.[7] 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.[8]

Yōkai similar to zashiki warashi in other parts of Japan include: the makuragaeshi in Ishikawa Prefecture - another creature which alters bedding;[9] the ainukaisei in Hokkaido; and the akagantā found in Okinawa.[10]

The Ryokufūsō in Kindaichi-Onsen, which burned down on October 4, 2009, was famed for its zashiki warashi.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

  • 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 the spirits of fetus that were aborted by the prostitutes in a brothel.[12]
  • 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.
  • In the game and anime Yo-Kai Watch the Zashiki-warashi appear as helpers that involve themselves in everyday lives of humans even though they can't see them.
  • In the manga and anime Hoozuki no Reitetsu, two zashiki-warashi are taken in by Hoozuki.
  • In the manga and anime Kimi ni Todoke, the main character says that her nickname used to be Zashiki Warashi.
  • In the videogame series Pokémon, Snorunt (Japanese: ユキワラシ, Yukiwarashi) appears to be based on these.


  1. ^ Takayuki 1996, p. 173-174.
  2. ^ Matsumura 2006.
  3. ^ Yoshimura 2015, p. 170.
  4. ^ Blacker 1963, p. 87.
  5. ^ Takayuki 1996, p. 173.
  6. ^ Yoda & Alt 2013, p. 31-32.
  7. ^ Yoshimura 2015, p. 149.
  8. ^ Nomura 1987, p. 121.
  9. ^ Foster & Kijin 2015, p. 236-239.
  10. ^ Foster & Kijin 2015, p. 239.
  11. ^ Tsuruta & Fujiyoshi 2016, p. "Zashiki-Warashi Inn" Rebuilt 6 Years and 7 Months after Fire.
  12. ^ Nakamura 2007.


External links[edit]