Tsukumogami Yokai Collection
I find Japanese culture fascinating, and their folklore is as vast as it is intriguing. I set out to draw every tsukumogami yokai listed on Wikipedia—some of which the internet had trouble describing.
To preface, Yokai ("strange apparition") are kinds of ghouls in Japanese folklore. The classifications are expansive, and there are many different types. They usually take on the form of animals, humans, or inanimate objects. The Tsukumogami ("tool spirit") are a specific category of yokai formed from neglected objects that have surpassed 100 years of age.
And you bet I researched every single one of them.
1. The Abumi Guchi is formed from the stirrup of a dead soldier's saddle. It is said to still be waiting for its owner to return.
2. The Bakezori is an old zori, a sandal woven from rice straw, that has been haunted by a spirit. It is typically harmless, opting to spook households in the middle of the night.
3. The Biwa Bokuboku is a melancholy animated biwa, a traditional Japanese string instrument. It is said to sit alone, singing and playing itself, as it despairs over its owner's neglect.
4. The Kura Yaro is the saddle of a fallen warrior. When left to rot on the battlefield, this yokai will mimic the valor of its long-past owner, swinging sticks around like swords and fighting everything it can.
5. The Boroboroton is a ghastly tattered futon that, out of frustration for being ignored, will wrap around and suffocate its sleeping owner.
6. The Chochin Obake is a torn and battered paper lantern with a tongue protruding from the split in the surface. Not much is really known about this yokai; it is unknown if they are even docile or malicious.
7. The Shogoro is a possessed shogo, a small gong used for Buddhist services. They are docile creatures that waddle around at night, making noise by striking themselves with their mallet.
8. Ittan Momen are strips of cotton cloth that flutter about the skies, and are said to wrap about their victims' faces and necks to suffocate them. Children are warned to not stay out too late, for fear that the "ittan momen would come."
9. The Kameosa is an old sake jar that overflows with an unending supply of whatever liquid it was filled with. While its appearance is quite frightening, this yokai is actually amiable and benign.
10. The Jatai is an animated obi, a kimono sash, that moves about like a snake. It slithers around hunting for men, with the intent of strangling them in their sleep.
11. The Kosode No Te is a pair of ghostly hands that emerge from the sleeves of a kimono, formerly owned by a prostitute. Some say that if the deceased was owed money in life, the yokai will seek out her debtors and scare them into paying what she was owed. Others claim that if the prostitute's kimono was not donated to a temple upon her death, that her spirit would come back to haunt her garment.
12. The Koto Furunushi is created from an elderly koto, a traditional Japanese zither—but only if treated with respect by its owner. The yokai is harmless to humans, and is said to perform songs that are played on them often. If neglected, the Koto Furunushi will ask other wandering tsukumogami to take it with them away from its owner.
13. The Yama Oroshi is a dull grater that can no longer grate anything, so it grows a body and its blades protrude like porcupine spines. Not much else is known about this yokai, other than that its name is a double-pun—not only does "oroshi" literally mean "grater," the yokai's name sounds similar to "yamaarashi," which means "porcupine."
14. The Kasa Obake is an old umbrella that grows facial features and limbs—which features it has and how many depend on the story. In fact, there was nothing written about them in older texts, so it is thought to be a yokai only featured in made-up stories or pictures.
15. The Minowaraji (also known as the Minosoji) is a possessed Japanese mino and a pair of waraji, or a traditional straw raincoat and sandals. They take on the grudges of their overtaxed farmer owners and an overall desire to work, so they will take to the fields and mime farming tasks—to a fault. If left to their devices, they will chop down entire forests or plant weeds amongst crops. Despite this, they are generally harmless unless someone interrupts their work, and they are sometimes useful if reared by workers.
16. The Ungaikyo is a haunted mirror that has the ability to create distorted and monstrous reflections of those who gaze into it. It is also said to show the true form of other yokai that have disguised themselves as humans.
17. The Shami Choro is a possessed shamisen, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument, often of a master musician. Due to the master dying or moving on to other instruments, the instrument is left alone to turn into a yokai, longing to be played again.
18. The Shirouneri is old mangled mosquito netting and dusty cloth that takes on the form of a tiny dragon. It is a mischievous yokai that likes to fly around the air chasing servants, wrapping their bodies around their victims' heads, causing them to pass out from the stench. There are very few instances of this yokai actually strangling people to death.
19. The Kyorinrin is formed from the cumulative knowledge of various scrolls, books, and texts that have fallen into disuse. They will decorate themselves with even more scrolls and texts, adorning their head with tassels and taking on a bird-like appearance. Out of irritation for their wisdom being ignored, they will use their elongated limbs to assault their neglectful owners.
20. The Menreiki is an amalgam of various Gigaku masks, which were masks used for silent-mime drama performances. After having fallen into disuse, this yokai goes after its owners, but it is more so a nuisance than a danger. Interestingly enough, this yokai is not folkloric, but is the creation of artist, poet, and scholar Toriyama Sekien.
21. The Morinji No Okama is formed from a Japanese tea kettle—and that is all we really know about it. A specific Morinji No Okama is well known in mythology, known as Zenfusho. He is part of a group of yokai made up of Koin Ryo (tiger skin pouch) and Yarike Cho (spear) that set out to attack humans.
22. The Ichiren Bozu is a yokai created from a ring of prayer beads. Nothing more is known about this ethereal tsukumogami.
23. The Zorigami (Tokeigami) is formed from an old clock—featured is a Japanese lantern clock. The name of this yokai is up for debate, as the internet's name for the creature, "Zorigami," is made up of nonsensical kanji. The name "Tokeigami" is more likely and makes much more sense, but the true name of it is unknown. Nothing more is known about this yokai.