In Japanese mythology, jikininki (Japanese: 食尸鬼, "human-eating ghosts") are ghouls, who eat dead human bodies.
In Japanese Buddhism, jikininki are the spirits of greedy, selfish or impious individuals who are cursed after death to seek out and eat human corpses. Jikininki are preta of the 26th class in Japanese Buddhism. They are also sometimes considered a form of rakshasa or gaki ("hungry ghosts"). In the latter case, they may be freed from their deplorable existence through remembrances and offerings (segaki).
Jikininki are said to look like decomposing cadavers, perhaps with a few inhuman features such as sharp claws or glowing eyes. Their hunched bodies are covered in blisters, abrasions, scars, infections and almost completely devoid of hair, except for random tufts. They are a horrifying sight, and any mortal who views one finds themself frozen in fear. However, several stories give them the ability to magically disguise themselves as normal human beings and even to lead normal "lives" by day.
Jikininki show up at night, scavenging for newly dead bodies and food offerings left for the dead. They sometimes also loot the corpses they eat for valuables, which they use to bribe local officials to leave them in peace. Nevertheless, jikininki lament their condition and hate their repugnant cravings for dead human flesh.
A particular myth tells of a strong-willed priest called Muso Kokushi who once kept watch near the body of a deceased person. Suddenly a jikininki arrived to devour it, but the priest's prayers liberated the demon's soul.