Japanese Demons

by Lyanne Thomas
(Manila, Philippines)

Japanese Demons, what you NEED to know

What are they? Are they at all similar to western demons that we are most familiar with? Japanese demons are hideous, gigantic creatures with horns and sharp claws. They are depicted in various forms but are usually with wild hair and a fierce look.

God they could be describing your mother-in-law! Am I right!?

These demons wear a tiger-skin loincloth and carry an iron club. These creatures are humanoid for the most part, though at times they appear with a horrible scary appearance and strange features.

In Japan these demons are also known as Oni. The Oni are believed to possess extraordinary strength and have some supernatural powers such as flying. Since the Oni are said to be very powerful, they are invincible and undefeatable. It is also a belief in Japan that these demons hunt for the souls of those who have done evil things in their lives.

One will realize upon exposure to Japanese literature, films, and theater that the Oni is a deeply rooted aspect of the Japanese culture. Even as of this modernized era, there are still Japanese villages that hold a yearly festival (commonly in early spring) to drive away the Oni.

A great example of these festivals would be the Setsubun festival. During the celebration of Setsubun the Japanese people throw soybeans outside their homes, while chanting “Demons out, Luck in.” This is because of the belief that Oni are capable of bringing unfortunate events in one`s life.

They are also held accountable at times for tragedies, accidents and illness. Although in more recent times the Oni have taken on a more protective functions. Some Oni are believed to be friendly to humans, giving them blessings and rewards thus the Japanese people sometimes wear Oni costumes during parades to ward off bad luck.

The root of the word Oni comes from the character “On'yomi” which means to hide or to conceal. It is believed that before the Oni took some humanoid forms they were actually invisible creatures or spirits. So to speak, the Japanese devils are somewhat similar to western demons although the Japanese variety can take on more forms than that of their western devils.

To be on the safe side, be kind to others, you don`t want to be visited by an Oni, in the middle of a dark Japanese night......

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