'Spooky Beasts Keep Haunting Japan's Art' by John L. Tran. Artwork by Mitsunobu Tosa.
Youkai - also commonly spelled yokai (妖怪/ようかい ) - are much-loved or feared aspects of Japanese culture which often re-emerge during the peak of sticky, hot summers. Similar to Western culture's vampires, werewolves, and ghouls, youkai are creatures which often carry a warning. Among the various types, everyday youkai can be sorted into three categories: moral, comical, and horror.
Comical youkai may be presented as harmless and humorous with over-sized limbs or rather low cognitive functions. The mischievous tanuki youkai is one such creature which can be discovered in statue form outside homes - a symbol of good luck and protection. With mountainous genitalia and a talent for cheekiness, tanuki youkai are prime examples of comedy (though, somewhat understandable compared to the aspect of the 'shirime' youkai). In Western culture terms, these youkai would be similar to leprechauns or Cousin It.
In summary, youkai are portrayed differently to depict certain messages. As various youkai are seen as fun and comical, there are a number of youkai which continue to strike fear into the heart of Japan's society today.
Hiding from Japanese Ghosts
Ghost stories are the least frightening thing about Japan when facing culture clashes, mystery food, language barriers, and - scariest of all - marriage.