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]


  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.


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