Japan, What's with all the Ogres?

Japan, What's with all the Ogres?


Oni (demon or ogre in Japanese) hold significant cultural importance in Japan, deeply rooted in folklore, mythology, and traditional beliefs. These creatures are often depicted as malevolent creatures, characterized by their fearsome appearance, including sharp claws, horns, wild hair, and sometimes carrying large clubs. At the core, oni feature prominently in Japanese folklore and mythology. These stories have been passed down through generations, contributing to the enduring presence of oni in Japanese culture.

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Here are different areas in West Japan that feature our beloved yet feared oni!

Kyoto Prefecture
Nestled in Fukuchima city in Kyoto, renowned as the abode of Japan's infamous demon leader, Shuten Doji, the Japan Oni Cultural Museum  carries an array of national and international oni masks and artifacts. Visitors can also enjoy the natural surroundings, which include parks, walking trails, waterfalls, rivers, and encounters with friendly oni figures scattered throughout the area.

Hyogo Prefecture
The city of Tamba Sasayama in Hyogo hosts an annual "Oni Matsuri" (Demon Festival). During this festival, participants dress up as oni and parade through the streets, reenacting traditional rituals to drive away evil spirits.


Okayama Prefecture
Onigashima, also known as "Demon Island," is a mythical island that features prominently in Japanese folklore. It is often associated with the legend of Momotaro, a popular hero in Japanese folklore who was said to have been born from a peach and embarked on a quest to defeat oni. The island is located in the Seto Inland Sea in Okayama.

Oita Prefecture
Beppu's "hells" (jigoku) are seven remarkable hot springs renowned for their mesmerizing displays, offering steaming ponds of vivid hues, bubbling mud pools, and captivating hydrothermal phenomena. Around the hot springs, an oni statue stands tall and fearsome. 


Onigajo, also called "Demon's Castle," is a rugged limestone cliff formation in Kumano, Mie Prefecture. Its towering rocks, caves, and crevices create an eerie appearance. Legend says it was once home to oni who were later vanquished. Now, it's a popular tourist spot valued for its scenic beauty and cultural history.

While research was done by us, drafting of the descriptions was crafted with assistance from GPT-3, OpenAI's large-scale language-generation model. While GPT-3 generated draft language, we reviewed, edited, and revised the content to align to our preferences and take responsibility for the content.