Bakemono

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Bakemono (化け物)(sometimes obakemono) and obake (お化け) are a class of monster or spirit in Japanese folklore.


Etymology

bakemono means a thing that changes, referring to a state of transformation or shapeshifting.


Origin

These words are often translated as ghost, but primarily they refer to living things or supernatural beings who have taken on a temporary transformation, and these bakemono are distinct from the spirits of the dead. In common usage, any bizarre apparition can be referred to as a bakemono or an obake whether or not it is believed to have some other form, making the terms roughly synonymous with yokai. As a secondary usage, the term obake can be a synonym for yurei, the ghost of a deceased human being.


Appearance

bakemono can refer to many creatures — such as a fox (kitsune), a raccoon dog (tanuki), a badger (mujina), or a transforming cat (bakeneko) — the spirit of a plant — such as a kodama — or an inanimate object — which may possess a soul in Shinto and other animistic traditions. Obake derived from household objects are often called tsukumogami.


See also

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