Japanese Video Games Meet Japanese Folklore: Yo-Kai Watch 妖怪ウォッチ

Published January 15th, 2016

Yō-kai Watch is a series of Japanese video games that was also turned into a shonen manga series, and an anime series as well! The video game Yo-Kai Watch 3 will be released this summer! But if you’ve never seen the show or played the Japanese game, then what are yo-kai exactly?

Yokai Watch 3 Japanese Video Games

Here is Wikipedia’s definition of Yōkai:

Yōkai (妖怪, ghost, phantom, strange apparition) are a class of supernatural monsters and spirits in Japanese folklore. The word yōkai is made up of the kanji for “bewitching; attractive; calamity” and “apparition; mystery; suspicious“. They can also be called ayakashi (妖), mononoke (物の怪), or mamono (魔物). Yōkai range eclectically from the malevolent to the mischievous, or occasionally bring good fortune to those who encounter them. Often they possess animal features (such as the Kappa, which is similar to a turtle, or the Tengu which has wings), other times they can appear mostly human, some look like inanimate objects and others have no discernible shape. Yōkai usually have a spiritual supernatural power, with shapeshifting being one of the most common. Yōkai that have the ability to shapeshift are called obake.

But what do these Japanese spirits have to do with a video game? Well you can check out the story of Yo-kai and his magic watch here.

So what are some of the most famous Yōkai from the Japanese Video Games and anime?

1.じがじぃさん (Jigajii-san)

English name: Jigajii-san

Yokai Jigajii-san Japanese video games character

This name comes from a four-character idiomatic compound:自画自賛(じがじさん jigajisan)that means “sing one’s own praises; praise oneself”
When you’re haunted by this Yo-kai, you keep praising yourself.

2. ホノボーノ (Honobōno)

English name: Happierre

Yokai Happiere Japanese video game character
This Yo-kai’s name comes from an adverb ほのぼの(heartwarming) or verb ほのぼのする (to feel relaxed). Basically, this Yo-kai makes the haunted person feel happy.

3. ひも爺 (Himojii)

English name: Hungramps

Yokai Hungarumps Japanese video games character
ひもじい (himojii) is an adjective that means hungry. So, this Yo-ka makes you hungry when you’re haunted by him.

4. ネガティブーン (Negativoon)

English name: Negatibuzz

Yokai negatibuzz Japanese video game character

This Yo-kai’s name comes from an English word “Negative” or in Katakana “ネガティヴ.”
A mosquito-like Yo-Kai that makes people depressed.

5. ヒキコウモリ (hikikoumori)

English name: Hidabat

Yokai Hideabat

This Yo-kai’s name was made up from two words: ひきこもり and コウモリ.
ひきこもり means “social withdrawal” and is one of the major social problems in Japan.
コウモリ means “bat.”
This shady tribe Yo-Kai would rather spend its time indoors and never go out, forcing people to feel the same way.

So…who is your favorite Yō-kai?