Pokémon Based On Yokai and Japanese Folklore!

Pokémon Based On Yokai
All the Pokemon inspired by Yokai or Japanese mythology! How interesting is it to compare these amazing mythological creatures  and see how so many Pokemon may have been borne straight out of legend - or been heavily inspired by the stuff of legend. No wonder our Pokemon friends are so captivating and multi faceted, it's so wonderful to think they might carry secret little pockets of Japanese folklore within their design! Here we take a closer inspection at the Pokemon based on Yokai!

Best Yokai Pokemon

1. Vulpix as Kitsune

Pokémon Based On Yokai
Vulpix is an iconic Pokemon in both the anime and Pokemon games, not least for its adorable and curious six tailed, curly haired form! Its design is also reminiscent of the famous Kitsune fox from Japanese mythology. Japanese legends tell that the Kitsune is born with a fox-like appearance, and that the number of tails on the creature indicates its age and power. The Pokémon Vulpix, goes on to evolve into Ninetales, a light-coated fox with nine tails and exceptional longevity. Legend states that once the yokai has gained a lot of experience, its hair becomes white or golden. Before the age of 100, it is said that Kitsune is a polymorphous creature and this cunning spirit is capable of transforming itself, producing fire or even illusions in order to manipulate humans.

2. Lotad as Kappa

Pokémon Based On Yokai
Let's have a look at this fascinating yokai and the Pokemon loosely inspired by it. Kappa is an amphibious yōkai found in traditional Japanese folklore, a little like a water nymph, depicted as green, human-like beings with webbed hands and feet and a turtle-like carapace on their back. Said to hide in murky waters, the water in the small bowl on their head gives them profound wisdom, and they are expert healers and have broad knowledge in medicine. Just like Kappa, the river monster, Lotad prefers to hide in murky waters. It is protected by a hollow, bowl-like water lily leaf that also serves as its shell. It is a dual Water and Grass Type Pokemon from Generation 3 and is known as the Water Weed Pokemon for its water dwelling habits. This "Water" and "Plant" type Pokémon can transform into a Lombre: a mixture of child and turtle. When it rains, its bowl fills up and Lotad recovers its strength, but its water lily leaf dies, it gradually gets weaker.

3. Espeon as Bakeneko

Pokémon Based On Yokai
Let's take a look at Espeon, one of our fascinating Eeveelutions, that appears as like a cat-like Pokémon; a Psychic Type Pokemon from Generation 2, with a tail that splits in two. Its design is particularly reminiscent of the Japanese yokai or supernatural cat entity that is said to always be up to no good, a ghost cat that disturbs and terrorizes its household. Known in folklore to throw fireballs and transform into a human, it's kind of like your average household cat in poltergeist form. Just a bit more angry and chaotic, if that were possible. Luckily, the Pokemon Espeon is a little bit more chilled out and, intelligent and sensitive to its environment, instead prefers to remain loyal and in tune with its master. It can also predict the weather or determine the movements of his opponents. Whether we can teach our cat these skills remains to be seen. According to the relationship this pokemon has with its master, Espeon can develop divinatory powers.

4. Misdreavus as Nukekubi

Pokémon Based On Yokai
Speaking of ghosts, let's take a look at this limbless Pokemon, known as the Screech Pokemon, that is Misdreavus. Without legs or arms, Misdreavus is a ghost who loves to scare people. It is similar in design to Nukekubi, monsters found in Japanese folklore that appear to be ordinary people by day but when night falls their heads detach at the neck and fly around. Creepy! Often represented as a woman with long black hair, dressed in a kimono with strange marks on her neck, at night, her head separates from her body and floats in order to easily attack her victims, feeding on blood and uttering terrifying screams. What do they have in common? Misdreavus, just like its cousin Nukekubi, is also dressed in a floating dress and has long hair. Its neck is covered with red stones that absorb the fear of its victims. And finally, both creatures wake up during the night to play evil tricks on humans.

5. Jynx as Yama-Uba

Pokémon Based On Yokai
Let's talk about Jynx, the dual Ice and Psychic Type Pokemon from Generation 1, known as the Human Shape Pokemon. Dressed in a feminine manner, it is said to woo and lure people in to dancing with its rhythmic and hypnotic movements. Many of its features are similar to the Yama Uba in Japanese folklore, the fearsome mountain witch who lives in the forest, who is also known to lure others, namely lost hikers, in order to eat them alive. It does this by transforming in to a pretty woman, said to have the power to make her hair move in order to entrance stray hikers. Jynx's appearance is incredibly notable here too, as its bleached hair and purple skin alludes to the Japanese fashion Yamamba, itself inspired by the yokai. Its red dress is also of note, as it is said to be reminiscent of the kimono worn by the yokai.

6. Drowzee as Baku

Pokémon Based On Yokai
Let's take a look at Drowzee, our tapir like Pokémon with a small trunk, known as the Hypnosis Pokemon and for its ability to feed on dreams, a skill that might be linked to the Japanese yokai known as Baku, also an eater of bad dreams. In Japanese mythology, Baku is a legendary benevolent creature that feeds on thoughts, devouring the dreams and nightmares of humans. Containing aspects of an elephant and tiger in its design, this strange mythical creature can sometimes be depicted as a tapir, similar to the design of Drowzee!

7. Shiftry as Tengu

Pokémon Based On Yokai
Tengu, in Japanese folklore, is a type of mischievous supernatural being, sometimes considered the reincarnated spirit of one who was proud and arrogant in life. Known as winged Japanese mountain and forest yōkai, they are traditionally depicted with human, monkey, and avian characteristics, and another very remarkable feature is their long nose, a bit like Pinocchio! Comparing shaman like Pokemon Shiftry with the Tengu, many similarities arise, especially as the Tengu is said to have the power to fly, to watch over nature and to provoke violent wind storms by using his fan. If we look at Shiftry's abilities, he is equipped with leaf like hands that he waves like a fan to blow wind. Considered to be a guardian of the forest, it fits in nicely with the role the Tengu play - plus its evolved form is Nuzleaf, a kind of wooden puppet, that bears - yes you guessed it - a long nose!

8. Gastly as Onibi

Pokémon Based On Yokai
A type of atmospheric ghost light in legends of Japan, according to folklore, the Onibi are the spirits born from the corpses of humans and animals. They appear as flaming orbs and can sometimes be loosely translated into, or compared to, 'will-o-wisps', but often carry a mischevious to vengeful or malicious agenda or intention. According to the Wakan Sansai Zue written in the Edo period, they appear like orbs of blue light, and several onibi would gather together, and humans who came close would have their spirit sucked out. Spooky Pokemon Gastly carries a similar rotund appearance, consisting of 95% gas and levitating above the ground. What's more, this Pokémon is thoroughly mischevious in its intentions and enjoys frightening humans by creating illusions or by poisoning them deviously.

9. Mawile as Futakuchi-onna

Pokémon Based On Yokai
What do Mawile and Futakuchi-onna have in common? Well... it involves their second mouth, or rather jaw for the Pokemon. This Japanese folklore monster has a second mouth at the back of its head, just like the adorable and fearsome Mawile, this little girl with a big ponytail at the back of her head which is articulated in two crocodile jaws.

10. Whiscash as Namazu

Pokémon Based On Yokai
In Japanese mythology, the Namazu is a legendary giant underground catfish who causes earthquakes. The creature lives under the islands of Japan and is guarded by the god Takemikazuchi enshrined at Kashima, who restrains the catfish with a stone. When the Kashima-god lets his guard fall, Namazu thrashes about, causing violent earthquakes. What is so familiar about the appearance of Namazu is its whisker like form, which reminds us straight away of the fish Pokemon known as Whiscash, who may well have been designed with its yokai fish counterpart in mind! Not only does it carry a very similar appearance, of a blue fish with big whiskers, this Pokémon is also capable of causing terrible earthquakes!

11. Slowbro as Sazae-Oni

Pokémon Based On Yokai
When looking at Slowbro, it's so hard to tell where the inspiration behind its design came from... you would be forgiven for assuming it was some kind of bear Pokemon, with an evil shell like object biting on its rear end. It's definitely unusual in appearance, even for a Pokemon, but all seems to make more sense when we realise it is actually a kind of crustacean Pokemon and is known as the Hermit Crab Pokemon. This is due to it being possessed or claimed by the shell residing on its back, which is a nice little twist on the lifestyle of the hermit crab in real life, that is known to steal the shells of other marine mollusks in order to reside there. Its mollusk like form may be inspired by the Japanese yokai known as Sazae-Oni, a legendary crustacean like creature that has been said to devour humans.

12. Magikarp as the koï fish

Pokémon Based On Yokai
This is a long standing comparation by fans alike, but there is no denying that at least some inspiration was drawn from the legendary koi fish, in order to create the adorable fish Pokemon that is Magikarp, that fans know and love today. As an iconic animal of Japan, the koi fish is at the origin of the Pokémon Magikarp, with its creators even paying tribute to the legendary creature by giving it the traditional orange scales and appearance of a koi fish. What's more, according to the legend of the Yellow River, this particularly resistant fish manages to swim upstream to transform itself into a majestic dragon. This runs parallel to Magikarp's own amazing transformation, and mission to beat the odds, in order to evolve in to the incredible Gyarados. We love how it runs parallel to the legend behind the mighty koi fish!

Let us know below if you have come across any other similarities between yokai and Pokémon! We would love to know, and include them here!

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