Demon in Japanese: Oni, Akuma and more you should know! (2023)

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In the Japanese world, there are a few words for demons. Japan is famous for its mythology and countless spiritual beings, good and bad. Today we are going to talk about the 'bad boys'!

In Japan, demons are often portrayed as evil and dangerous beings that cause fear or harm to humans. However, there are also demons in Japanese folklore who help and protect people in need.

Many popular manga and anime series in Japan feature demonic characters, such as Naruto and Attack on Titan.

Today, let's take a look at the different categories of 'demon' in Japanese, such astheymiakuma, as well as some examples of evil spirits in Japanese folklore.

So if you're interested in learning how to say 'demon' in Japanese and what some of them look like, keep reading!


  1. They
  2. akuma
  3. youkai
  4. Some famous demons from Japanese folklore
    • Tsuchigumo
    • yuki onna
    • Gashadokuro
    • Yamanba / Yamaba
    • Oiwa
    • Shuten-douji



devil, ogre, troll

Demon in Japanese: Oni, Akuma and more you should know! (1)
(Video) Japanese Demon- Oni

A common Japanese word for devil or demon isthey /ghost. Theyare a type of evil spirit known asyoukaiin Japanese folklore. They are usually depicted as large, ugly, and monstrous creatures with sharp horns, fangs, and claws, which is whytheythey are often compared to "ogres" in Western mythology.

TheyThey can have red or blue skin and, in addition to being cruel and wicked, they are said to be very strong and have the ability to transform their appearance.

O kanji paratheycomes from the Chinese word for ghost, which is 'replacement' (鬼). It is believed thattheyThey were originally humans, but are born when an evil human dies and is sent to one of several Buddhist hells, where they are transformed into athey.

According to legend,theyThey live in mountains and forests. They are depicted in artwork as troll-like creatures wearing loincloths and wielding large iron clubs known asmarihuana

Theythey are said to enjoy causing harm and terrorizing humans. In some stories, they kill humans and eat their meat. However,theythey can occasionally be portrayed as useful beings, as in the story'Naita alias Oni'.

Regardless of your good or bad intentions,theyThey are always shown as fierce and powerful creatures, and despite being called a devil or demon, they often appear as symbols of strength and courage in Japanese art.



demon, satan, evil spirit

The word "demon" can be translated toakuma /devil In Japanese.akumais the closest to the Western concept of devil or demon and is the word used for 'satan' in Japanese (althoughsatan /Satan is also used).akumait is also the word used for the demon king Mara in Buddhism.

akumacombine twocaracteres kanji: location (mi) meaning 'bad' and 魔 (madre) which means 'demon'. The second kanji, 魔 (madre),is a versatile character who can also refer to a 'witch', 'magic', 'sorcery' and 'evil'.

In Japanese culture, demons known asakumathey are often seen as negative and fearsome creatures.akumagives the impression of demonic possession because the word exorcism in Japanese isakuma barai/Exorcism.akumaIt can also be used to refer to witches.



Spirit, ghost, phantom, demon

Demon in Japanese: Oni, Akuma and more you should know! (2)

In Japanese folklore, there is a class of supernatural beings known asyoukai/Appearance.youkaithey can be both good and evil "spirits" and are depicted in folklore as creatures that take many different forms.

They can be ghosts, monsters, or even inanimate objects that have come to life. Someyoukaithey are considered kind to humans, while others are destructive.

The wordyoukai/妖怪 comes from two kanji characters: 妖 which can mean 'attractive', 'charming' or 'calamity' and 怪 which has the definitions of 'suspicious', 'mystery' and 'apparition'.

Interestingly, the original Chinese meaning of these characters is 妖 (yao), meaning 'strange' or 'mysterious', and 怪 (problem), meaning 'monster' or 'demon'. When you put the Japanese and Chinese meanings together, you get the feelingyoukaithey are not well understood and represent the fear of the unknown.

(Video) Yokai are NOT Japanese Ghosts

youkaihas several definitions in the dictionary, including ghost, apparition, spook, spook, demon, and goblin.

Some famous demons from Japanese folklore

Many demonic creatures take the form ofyoukaiand are common in Japanese folklore. Here are a few that might send a shiver down your spine!


ground spider

ground spider

Demon in Japanese: Oni, Akuma and more you should know! (3)

Tsuchigumoare kind ofyoukaiappearing as giant spider-like creatures with a devilish face, tiger-like body, and spider-like limbs. It is said that they live in forests and mountains.

The word for "tarantula" in Japanese isotsuchigumo(お土蜘蛛) which literally means "spider that dwells on the ground" and was named after this mythological creature due to its resemblance.

On parchment from the 14th century.Tsuchigumo sem sopa(Tsuchigumo zoshi), esteyoukaihe is depicted as a shape-shifting spider demon who became a servant and gave people a medicine that was actually his poison.

yuki onna

snow woman

snow woman

Demon in Japanese: Oni, Akuma and more you should know! (4)

yuki onnais a spirit also considerateyoukaiand has many names in different parts of Japan. For example, it may be known asyuki-musume(daughter of snow),yukinba(snow witch) oryuki onago(Snow girl).

yuki onnashe appears as a tall woman with long black hair, blue lips, and pale skin.

a story tellsyuki onastanding in the middle of a snowstorm hugging a child (Yukinko) and asking passersby to also hug the child. The boy grew heavier and heavier once they held him up until one of them was covered in snow and froze to death.


hungry skull

hungry skeletons

Demon in Japanese: Oni, Akuma and more you should know! (5)

Gashadokurothey are huge skeletal spirits 15 times the size of an average human being.

They are said to arise from the remains of people who died in battle or starvation, searching for their victims by wandering the countryside. If they catch you, they will tear you to pieces with their hands or bite your head off. You may hear ringing in your ears when you are close.

(Video) How Strong is Akuma - Satsu No Hado - Shin Akuma - { Oni Akuma } Street Fighter

Yamanba / Yamaba

Yamauba / Yamauba

The Old Witch of the Mountain

Demon in Japanese: Oni, Akuma and more you should know! (6)

Many evil spirits inhabit mountains, as mountainous terrain accounts for nearly 70% of Japan's total area, and the old mountain witchyamanba(also calledyamauba)It is one of them.

These witch-like spirits have long unkempt hair and can often be found dressed in dirty old kimonos.Yamanbathey act kindly towards their victims, appearing as old women with genuine care for them before showing their true colors. They have been known to engage in cannibalistic behavior and even prey on innocent and defenseless children.

Some accounts speak ofyamaubahaving a mouth on top of the head, buried under the hair.


yu yan

vengeful spirit

Demon in Japanese: Oni, Akuma and more you should know! (7)

This one comes from perhaps the most famous Japanese ghost story of all time,Yotsuya Kaidan,and it is the vengeful spirit of a young woman namedOiwawho was betrayed by her husband. the ghost ofOiwais known as ain you /怨霊 (vengeful/wrathful spirit) said to be able to return to Earth due to their passion for revenge.

marido de OiwaIyemónhe is dissatisfied with his lack of money and leaves Oiwa while she is pregnant to marry a younger and wealthier woman namedOueme.

However, Oueme believes that she is not good enough for Iyemon. because she thinks she is less beautiful than Oiwa so Iyemon he decides to secretly poison Oiwa while they are having dinner. Instead of killing Oiwa, the poison causes Oiwa to die. beautiful face to peel and your eyes to pop out of your head.

She falls into a coma, but when she wakes up she doesn't remember anything about the poison. She lost the baby and her face is disfigured. Over the next few weeks, her husband, pressured by her new wife's family to be Oueme, desperately tries to get rid of Oiwa and ends up taking her for a walk one night and pushing her off a cliff where she falls. death.

She returns with a vengeance to haunt her husband at his wedding toOuemecheating on him When Iyemon lifts the veil of Oueme at the wedding he sees Oiwa's disfigured face and violently decapitates his fiancée, only to later realize that she was just a ghost and had in fact killed Oueme.

According to legend, Oiwa still lurks in her grave and to make things even scarier, mysterious disasters and deaths befell the people who tried to reproduce her story.



the drunken devil

(Video) Month of Myth: Akuma

Demon in Japanese: Oni, Akuma and more you should know! (8)

one of the most famoustheyin Japanese folklore it isShuten-doujiwho was considered a leader of demons and one of the 3 most evilyoukai.

His mother was pregnant with him for 2 years and when he was finally born he was a big baby with a full head of hair, full teeth and able to walk weeks after birth. As he grew older, he began to display superior intelligence and physical size to the rest of the village.

He became arrogant and looked down on the rest of the village as they all seemed completely inferior to him even though he was still a child. Even at just a few years old, Shuten-douji was addicted to alcohol. He liked to drink and the adults in the town thought that it was the only way to control him so as not to discourage him.

He started drinking so much and causing so much trouble in his town that his mother ended up sending him to live in a temple in the mountains. She hoped this would help discipline him, but as he grew older, the community also found it difficult to control him.

One night at a festival in the mountains, Shuten-douji appeared very drunk with atheymask on his face and tried to scare all the monks in the temple. When she returned to her room and tried to remove the mask, she discovered that it was permanently glued to her face.

He was ashamed and ran away from the temple to run away and live alone in the desert so he would never have to live with humans again. During this time he became more deformed, more bitter and angrier and kidnapped and killed people who got in his way.

In the oldest account of the story, Shuten-doji is described as being 15 meters tall, with a red body, fifteen eyes, and a head with five horns. He had one white leg and one black leg, and his arms were blue and yellow.

How do you say "demon" in Japanese?

So now you know how to say demon in Japanese, and I hope you have understood the difference betweenthey,akuma,youkaiand some of the other Japanese evil spirits!

From folklore and legend to modern manga, these supernatural beings are a staple of Japanese culture, so it pays to learn the Japanese words for demons and spirits.

If you want to delve even deeper into the Japanese language and culture,check out our favorite (free!) online Japanese lessons here.

Ready to take the next step in your Japanese language journey? Our recommended online course isJapanesePod101.

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Demon in Japanese: Oni, Akuma and more you should know! (9)

Francesca Rex-Horoi

Francesca is a freelance writer and teacher who moved to Tokyo from New Zealand at the age of 24. Majoring in Linguistics and ESL, she spent 3 years teaching at an all-boys high school. Now that she lives in France, she is still an avowed Japanese lover who loves kanji, cooking, cats and the outdoors.


What does oni Akuma mean? ›

It is often translated to devil in English, or demon (see oni). Akuma is the name assigned to Satan in Japanese Christianity, and the Mara in Japanese Buddhism.

What is a Japanese oni demon? ›

oni, in Japanese folklore, a type of demonic creature often of giant size, great strength, and fearful appearance. They are generally considered to be foreign in origin, perhaps introduced into Japan from China along with Buddhism. Cruel and malicious, they can, nevertheless, be converted to Buddhism.

What is the difference between Akuma and oni in Japanese? ›

Oni are demons that usually resemble ogres with features similar in some cases to dragons. Akuma appear to also be demonic, but usually having a fiery appearance. Yokai are ghosts.

What does oni mean in Japanese? ›

Noun. oni (plural onis or oni) A Japanese evil spirit or demon.

Is oni a type of demon? ›

An oni ( 鬼 おに ) is a kind of yōkai, demon, orc, ogre, or troll in Japanese folklore. Oni are mostly known for their fierce and evil nature manifested in their propensity for murder and cannibalism.

Is an Akuma real? ›

Akuma (悪魔, Japanese for "Devil", "Demon"), known in Japan as Gouki (豪鬼, lit. "Great Demon"), is a fictional character and secondary antagonist of the Street Fighter series of fighting games by Capcom.

What does a real oni look like? ›

Oni are said to be bigger than a grown man, towering over humans; and scary, coming in colors of red, blue, or green. It is not known why the oni are these colors, but it is rare to see another color of oni. They often have big, scraggy beards; wild, staring eyes; sharp claws; and long, sharp teeth.

What weapon does an oni use? ›

Kanabo. The most lethal looking of the "bo" family, the metal spiked kanabo came shaped like a bo or tapered like a bat and specialized in bludgeoning enemies. Perhaps that's why it's the preferred weapon of Japanese oni, a type of demon or ogre that frequents Japanese folktales.

What are oni powers? ›

Powers and Abilities
  • Invisibility - If an oni wishes, they can disappear from human perception. ...
  • Weather manipulation - An oni displayed the ability to create damaging thunderstorms to herald his arrival in a town. ...
  • Telepathy - An oni is capable of reading the minds of its targets for information on them.

How did Akuma turn into oni? ›

Akuma assumes his Oni form in his ultimate battle with Ryu. After Ryu had obtain balance with both the Satsui no Hado and Power of Nothing from his fight with Gill and became Shin Ryu, Akuma becomes Oni and engages in furious combat.

What is a female demon in Japanese? ›

A kijo (鬼女, lit. demon woman) is an oni woman from Japanese legends.

What species is Akuma? ›

Throughout the series, Akuma has stated that he is a demon, this is most likely because of the Satsui no Hadou finally taken a negative impact on his humanity.

What does oni girl mean? ›

Oni is a beautiful name for a baby girl and springs from a couple of origins. As a Native American name, it means "born on holy ground" and may resonate with a parent seeking a symbolic name that reflects their beliefs.

What are the colors of oni? ›

As noted above, oni are generally easy to identify. They have horns and sharp teeth. They're generally either red or blue/green (ao 青, a color concept that can encompass both blue and green). They're large and muscular and generally fierce-looking.

What does a red oni mask mean? ›

These masks depict red-faced Japanese demons, typically featuring two horns and an angry expression. These scary Oni demons ward off evil spirits and protect their users from bad luck and harm. During Japanese festivals, people often wear Oni masks as talismans; many styles and designs exist today.

Can oni be female? ›

The female oni may appear like a beautiful woman who turns ferocious in a fit of jealous rage. Savage and wild in nature, they rarely wear much more than a loincloth - often in tiger skin.

Who is the oni god? ›

Particularly powerful oni may be described as kishin or kijin (literally "oni god"; the "ki" is an alternate character reading of "oni"), a term used in Japanese Buddhism to refer to Wrathful Deities.

Do oni have wings? ›

The Oni are tall, humanoid creatures with horns. They are all colored differently and usually consist of two different colors. While they are humanoid, some of them have non-humanoid limbs, for example wings, blades, etc.

Is Akuma good or evil? ›

Akuma's name translates to "devil" and his Japanese name, Gouki, translates to "great devil". Akuma has a demon/devil complex. He believes himself to be pure evil in every way. However, he's shown to be merciful, honorable, and even helpful towards others.

Is Akuma Mexican? ›

José Luis Florencio Martínez (born 1996) is a Mexican luchador, or professional wrestler best known under the ring name Akuma.

Who taught Akuma? ›

According to Capcom's official account of Akuma's backstory, the two brothers were once students of Goutetsu, a practitioner of an art that was originally developed with the intention of killing an opponent, the origins of which are rooted back to Japan's feudal age. Goutetsu taught his skills to Gouken and Akuma.

How long do oni live for? ›

They're spirits made flesh, and even the weakest of them have fast healing, while the rest have some level of regeneration. My general rule of thumb is that anything with fast healing or regeneration can live pretty much forever, as they possess bodies that don't wear down.

What color eyes do oni have? ›

Species information
Eye colourWhite, yellow, brown
Skin colourGreen, blue, white, black, red
Hair colourBrown, red, orange
13 more rows

Who wears the oni mask? ›

The Oni Mask of Hatred is the only mask in the show which has had two people use it: Harumi and Ultra Violet.

How do oni fight? ›

Oni's Regeneration makes them masters of attrition fighting: the longer they can drag a battle out, the better. Their opponents have to hit hard and end the battle as fast as possible, or the oni will wear them down. In addition to invisibility, oni can cast darkness at will.

What is an oni weak to? ›

However, Oni is weak to both Electric and Light-type skills. As such, demons that have offensive skills from these elements will be useful. A good choice for an ally to bring against Oni is Archangel, as they can be obtained with the Hama skill (possibly up to +3) that deals Light-type damage.

What was the strongest oni? ›

It has been said that Shuten-dōji was the strongest oni of Japan. Academic folklorist Kazuhiko Komatsu has counted Shuten-dōji among the three most feared yōkai in medieval Kyoto, alongside the vixen Tamamo-no-Mae and the demon Ōtakemaru.

Are Oni male or female? ›

They come from the underworld and there are both male and female Oni in many different varieties.

Who kills the Oni? ›

The Oni finally finds Stiles, intending to test him. Before they can, Stiles grabs the warrior's arm with supernatural strength. The expression on his face tells us this isn't Stiles anymore. He proceeds to kill each of the Oni, leaving the Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital with Scott as if nothing happened.

What language do Oni speak? ›

Oniboshigo (鬼星語, Planet Oni language?) is a language spoken by oni aliens, also considered the native language of Oniboshi. The most notable Oniboshigo user is Lum's Mother, who is the only character who is unable to speak Japanese language.

What is Akuma weakness? ›

Akuma appears in Street Fighter X Mega Man as the secret final boss. He will appear during the fight with M. Bison when he has 1/4 of his health or lower. His weakness is the Hadoken and the Optic Laser.

Who is true Akuma? ›

Shin Akuma, in this version, is roughly "True Akuma" as he appears in Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact. He is the final boss of the Capcom side, along with SNK's Serious Mr. Karate.

Why does Akuma fight? ›

Akuma begins to search the globe looking for worthy fighters to challenge. Secluding himself in the shadows, he watches small tournaments and street fights, desperately seeking someone who might be able to match his strength. He is eventually challenged by a man named Gen.

What is the Japanese black demon called? ›

In Japanese mythology and fantasy, mazoku (魔族) are supernatural beings, normally evil ones such as devils or demons. A maō (魔王) or maou is a ruler of mazoku, or in fiction more generically a dark lord or powerful monster.

Who is Japan's main god? ›

The Sun Goddess Amaterasu is considered Shinto's most important kami. Some prominent rocks are worshiped as kami. In contrast to many monotheistic religions, Shinto does not have absolutes.

What is the Japanese name for wolf demon? ›

Wolf yōkai (妖狼, Yōrō, "demon wolves") are demons who resemble wolves. The ones that have a humanoid appearance have fangs and pointed ears, and the ones that aren't humanoid look like wolves slightly larger than the regular wolf, and have the ability to speak.

Does Akuma have a child? ›

Generations makes it pretty clear that Ryu is Akuma's illegitimate son.

Why is Akuma so strong? ›

Akuma has a lot of things going for him: He is at Superhuman Physical Condition. He's a master martial artist. He has energy manipulation helped by his ki and the Satsui no Hado.

What do oni mask tattoos mean? ›

Oni tattoos mainly represent a way of warding off bad omens– they are a source of luck. These tattoos have the power to bring you good fortune in almost any situation. Also, these interesting tattoos mean that no one should mess with you. They are meant to be scary demons that ward off your enemies.

What is the most famous oni? ›

What is the most famous oni? Shuten-dōji has been regarded as the most famous and strongest oni in Japan. The legend of Shuten-dōji has been described since the 14th century in various arts, traditional performing arts and literature such as emakimono, jōruri, noh and kabuki.

What is the first oni? ›

The First Oni's form is defined by its shape-shifting abilities, which allow it to create appendages and limbs out of its own body. Initially he had a single eye, but in the Invasion of the Celestial Heavens he had six. It never appeared in the same shape twice, but constantly shifted from form to form.

Can oni be purple? ›

For Ao Oni ver. 2.0, the Oni was given a slight redesign and was given a more purplish tone and smoother skin.

Is the red oni good? ›

The red ogre became a hero and the villagers weren't afraid of him anymore. They recognized hime as a good oni. He was very happy spending time with his new human friends. After some time, the red ogre realized he hadn't seen the blue ogre since that day.

Why are oni red and blue? ›

The name comes from traditional Japanese folklore where Oni (think troll/ogre) usually came in two flavors, Red and Blue. Over time, it's gotten popular to ascribe different qualities and personalities to the two colors. (Think the high-strung Type A personality and the easy-going Type B personality.)

Who are Oni looking for? ›

In both instances seen in Teen Wolf, Chris Argent as a teen and the current story line, Oni seek a "dark Kitsune" also described as a "dark spirit" that has possessed someone. Silverfinger claims they are unstoppable and that "no man-made" weapon can stop them.

What are the three Oni masks called? ›

The Oni Mask of Hatred is worn by five people, the Oni Mask of Vengeance is worn by three people, and the Oni Mask of Deception was worn by three people. The Oni Mask of Vengeance was originally called the "Oni Mask of Revenge."

What does the purple Oni mask do? ›

In the Ninjago universe the Oni masks are iconic looking and play an important part in season 8. While each of them had their own power, all three of them were used to resurrect Lord Garmadon. The purple mask of hatred turned the wearers body into invulnerable magma stone and lava.

Is oni related to Akuma? ›

While the devil (the meaning of Akuma's name) and oni are two distinct creatures in Japanese religion, the idea of Akuma becoming a demon might be considered to be fulfilled in Oni; the developers also refer to Oni as "Akuma beyond Shin Akuma".

Does Akuma mean evil? ›

Akuma's name translates to "devil" and his Japanese name, Gouki, translates to "great devil". Akuma has a demon/devil complex. He believes himself to be pure evil in every way. However, he's shown to be merciful, honorable, and even helpful towards others.

What does Akuma say in Japanese? ›

"Banbutsu Hissatsu! Sekia Kuretsuha!"

Who Is the Black oni? ›

Will Wiggins III, otherwise known as Black Oni, is a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Action-RPG focused streamer, heavily influenced by Black and Japanese culture. "Born, and protector of sacred land," reflects his views of art and gaming as sacred forms of exploration & expression.

Is an Akuma a butterfly? ›

An akuma is an evilized butterfly. Its goal is to possess an important object of a person who feels strong emotions, forming a telepathic connection between the person and the Butterfly holder.

What does Akuma tattoo mean? ›

His first video game appearance in the series was in Super Street Fighter II Turbo. The kanji ten (天) - meaning "sky", "heaven", or "providence" - can be seen on the back of his gi. Capcom has stated that this symbol was meant to represent "immortality".

Is Akuma a girl name? ›

The name Akuma is boy's name meaning "devil, demon".

What is Akuma in English? ›

Noun. akuma (plural akuma or akumas) A Japanese demon.

What does Akuma say in raging demon? ›

Akuma: "One must defeat one's own shadow, one's own demon, or he is condemned to nothingness. I have dwelled in darkness and have conquered it."

What is the kanji for devil? ›

The oni (鬼), the Japanese devil or demon, is elusive. It's hard to find images of this supernatural creature at temples or elsewhere in Japan. On the other hand, devils and demons work their way into our lives much more than we might realize. In Japanese, 鬼 references are pervasive.


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