vol.004 - Niche of Yōkai 妖怪空間―でそうな場所―


Niche of Yōkai


The unique attraction of Japanese Yōkai monsters is their slightly creepy appearance, which piques our curiosity and makes us want to see them. In Japan, these monsters have been depicted in paintings since the days of old. They take on a variety of different forms, ranging from Yōkai that look dreadful to those that are simply lovely. What kinds of place are haunted by these monsters?


The National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU) held the 28th NIHU Symposium entitled “Yōkai  Kukan – Deshouna Basho (Niche of Yōkai)” in Tokyo on June 11, 2016. At the symposium, a keynote lecture was given by Kazuhiko Komatsu, the Director General of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (NICHIBUNKEN) Bunkakorosha (Person of Cultural Merit) in  2016. This was followed by lectures given by Professor Maori Saito of the National Institute of Japanese Literature (NIJL) Emeritus Professor Toru Tsunemitsu of the National Museum of Japanese History(REKIHAKU) and Professor Manami Yasui of Tenri University. Their lectures discussed how Yōkai monsters enter and leave cities, mansions, human bodies, and other places.


Summaries of the lectures, which were distributed on the day of the symposium can be downloaded from NIHU’s official website. A digest video of the symposium is also available on YouTube.


If you want to know more about Yōkai monsters, databases published by NICHIBUNKEN are useful resources. These include the Illustrations of Strange Phenomena and Yōkai  a collection that contains digitized ultra-high-quality images of 26 Yōkai emaki (picture scrolls depicting monsters), Paintings of Strange Phenomena and Yōkai  which contains 3,660 images concerning strange occurrences and Yōkai depicted in visual materials, and Folktales of Strange Phenomena and Yōkai  which consists of 35,826 items of bibliographic information about cases of strange occurrences and Yōkai reported in folklore research papers and other materials.


In addition, Gallery 4 (Folklore) of REKIHAKU exhibits materials about strange occurrences and Yōkai.


You can also search for various materials on strange occurrences and Yōkai by using the nihuINT an integrated system for research materials that is offered by NIHU.







人間文化研究機構(略称:人文機構)では、2016年6月11日、第28回人文機構シンポジウム「妖怪空間―でそうな場所―」を東京で開催しました。シンポジウムでは、小松和彦・国際日本文化研究センター 所長(2016年文化功労者)による基調講演に続けて齋藤真麻理・国文学研究資料館 教授、常光徹・国立歴史民俗博物館 名誉教授、安井眞奈美・天理大学 教授らが、都市、屋敷、身体などへの妖怪の出入り口について講演しました。








28th NIHU Symposium “Yōkai Kukan – Deshouna Basho (Niche of Yōkai)” in Tokyo on June 11, 2016.



Kappa monster, gallery 4 (Folklore) of REKIHAKU exhibit