Blog post

The Mysterious World of Japan: The Difference Between Youkai, Kaiju, and Bakemono

Miki - Teacher

When you dive into the world of Japanese legends, you first encounter three entities: 妖怪ようかい (Yokai), 怪獣かいじゅう (Kaiju), and もの (Bakemono).

These beings have their own origins and descriptions and make up a unique part of Japanese culture.

妖怪ようかい (Yokai) generally refers to supernatural beings that have a deep connection with nature and human emotions. Due to their nature, Yokai are often portrayed as mischievous, menacing, or protective beings. From a silly raccoon to a terrifying kappa, yokai come in many varieties, each with a unique background that is deeply rooted in Japanese legends and superstitions.

On the other hand, 怪獣かいじゅう (Kaiju) refers to large mythical beasts that are often depicted in movies and media. Literally meaning "strange beast". They are generally depicted as gigantic and destructive forces, with Godzilla being the most famous example! Kaiju stories are often depicted as allegories of social issues such as environmental destruction and nuclear disasters.

Finally, もの (Bakemono) refers to creatures that transform. Often used synonymously with Yokai, Bakemono specifically refers to creatures that transform from animal to human form and vice versa, such as the famous fox or nine-tailed fox.

Each of these beings each have their own place in Japanese legend, creating stories that teach, enchant, and entertain us about human nature and the complexities of the world around them.