Zashiki-warashi (座敷童/座敷童子), sometimes also called zashiki-bokko (座敷ぼっこ), are a Japanese yōkai, stemming from Iwate Prefecture, similar to a domovoi.
The name breaks down to zashiki, a tatami floored room, and warashi, an archaic regional term for a child.
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.
To attract and maintain a zashiki-warashi in the home, it is said 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 Ryokufūsō in Kindaichi-Onsen is famous for its zashiki-warashi. Yōkai similar to zashiki-warashi in other parts of Japan include the makuragaeshi in Ishikawa Prefecture, the akashaguma or kurabokko in Tokushima Prefecture and the akashaguma living in the Kotohira Shrine.
- The Last of the Zashiki-warashi, Awa Life, March 2002
- The Story of Zashiki-warashi no geta, Nanbu Kiri Geta Preservation Society