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Japanese Yokai: Tsukumogami

Updated on December 7, 2014


Can you spot the Tsukumogami?
Can you spot the Tsukumogami? | Source


Tsukumogami or "artifact spirit" are objects that turn into spirits on their 100th birthday. Not to be confused as enchanted objects, these spirits come alive on their own. These objects can be anything from teacups to lanterns to a band-aid.

They can look scary or friendly and kind depending on the way they were treated and used, and the amount of tears and holes in them. Even the scariest tsukumogami are actually quite harmless, the worst they will do is play little pranks. However, if you mistreat a tsukumogami and throw them away or waste them, they will band together to take revenge.

Apparently modern items can no longer become tsukumogami, mostly because tsukumogami are repelled by electricity, and most modern items are cheap plastic that wouldn't last a hundred years.

Paper Lantern Ghost - Chochinobake

The lantern ghost has a long tongue protruding from a rip in the paper, usually have one eye, and often carry spirits with a lot of anger and hatred. If you light one of these lanterns on fire the spirit will jump out and attack you.

The paper lantern ghost
The paper lantern ghost | Source
The Abumi-Guchi
The Abumi-Guchi | Source


The Abumi-guchi is a furry little yokai, that used to be a stirrup, most likely to have once belonged to a fallen soldier. It is said that the Abumi-guchi will wait where it fell for the soldier that it used to belong to.

There is actually a short poem based off of the Abumi-guchi's perspective;

"An arrow is shot deep into the knee, 'and he falls from his stirrups, and the hand of suffering is dealt, and such a song is sung, I saw it not in my dreaming mind."


The Bakezori are also a type of tsukomogami. Their name translates to "Ghost Straw Sandals". After being mistreated and forgotten by their owners they come to life after 100 years. They have one large eye, and they grow tiny arms and legs, so that they may run around the house at night and cause mischief.

They have a song that they sing while running around:

"Kararin! Kororin! Kankororin! Managu mittsu ni ha ninmai! Kararin! Kororin! Kankororin! Eyes three and teeth two!"

"Eyes three" refers to the three holes that the sandal straps attaches to, and "teeth two" are the small wooden planks that attach to the bottom of the sandal.

Bakezori | Source

They Just Need a Little Love...

Whether or not you believe in the tsukomogami, I think the point of these little tales of neglected household objects coming to life, is to actually teach a lesson. Most of you reading this will probably have enough money to have a bit of food on your table, you'll probably be using a laptop or a cellphone or a computer. Maybe even be able to afford the next iPhone. You get my point.

What I'm trying to say is while you shouldn't obsess over materialistic objects, you should also be grateful for being able to have them. Cherish your belongings, and be respectful, don't waste them or needlessly throw them away. Maybe give them to someone that needs them, or find a new use for them. There are so many people out there that don't even have the luxury of electricity or clean water, so don't ever forget how to count your blessings.

Which Tsukomogami interests you the most? (Doesn't have to be these three)

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