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Abura-akago is a Japanese type of infant spirit or ghost that has been a part of Japanese folklore for centuries. This yōkai is often depicted as an infant spirit lapping oil out of an andon lamp. The name “Abura-akago” translates to “oil baby” in English.

According to Toriyama Sekien’s mid-Edo period Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki, Abura-akago is a mischievous spirit that can cause trouble for humans. The legend suggests that Abura-akago is attracted to oil lamps and will try to drink the oil from them. It is said that if a person sees an Abura-akago drinking oil from a lamp, they should quickly put a lid on the lamp to prevent the spirit from causing any harm.

While Abura-akago may seem like a harmless spirit, its presence can be unsettling. The legend of Abura-akago has been passed down through generations and is still a popular subject in Japanese folklore today.

Origin and Folklore

Japanese Mythology

Abura-akago is a type of infant spirit or ghost from Japanese mythology. In Japanese folklore, it is believed that when a child dies before it is baptized, it becomes a yōkai or a ghost. These ghosts are known as Abura-akago. They are said to have a strong desire for oil and are often depicted licking oil out of lamps or paper lanterns.

Tale of Abura-akago

According to the legend, Abura-akago is said to have originated from the town of Hacchō in the city of Ōtsu, located in Ōmi Province. It is believed that balls of fire can be seen flying through the air in this town due to the past transgressions of an oil seller.

The tale of Abura-akago tells of a particular man who was among the first known spirits of this kind. He had stolen oil from the sacred Jizo lamp, which angered the deity. In punishment, the man was transformed into an Abura-akago. Since then, it is believed that these spirits enter homes and drink oil from lamps.

The Abura-akago are portrayed as child-like or infant ghosts and are small and non-threatening. It is said that since Japan’s feudal times, these spirits have been known to sneak into a home and drink away oil from lamps.

Cultural Significance

Supernatural Beliefs

Abura-akago is a Japanese yokai, which is believed to be an infant spirit or ghost that drinks oil from an andon lamp. According to legend, it appears as a small child with a red face and a bald head, and it is said to be harmless to humans. However, it is also believed that if one sees an Abura-akago, it is a sign of impending disaster or misfortune.

In Japanese folklore, Abura-akago is often associated with the supernatural world and is considered to be a type of yurei, or ghost. It is said that the spirit of a child who died before it was baptized can become an Abura-akago and roam the earth in search of oil to drink.

Modern Interpretations

In modern times, Abura-akago has been popularized in Japanese media and culture. It has been featured in various anime, manga, and video games, and has become a popular subject of cosplay and fan art.

Abura-akago has also been used as a symbol of environmentalism and conservation. Some people believe that the spirit of Abura-akago represents the harm that humans are causing to the environment by consuming too much oil, and that we must take action to protect the earth and its resources.

Overall, Abura-akago remains a fascinating and mysterious figure in Japanese folklore and popular culture, and continues to capture the imaginations of people around the world.

Visual Depictions

Artistic Representations

Abura-akago is a well-known yōkai in Japanese folklore, and it has been depicted in various artistic forms throughout history. One of the most popular depictions of Abura-akago is the illustration found in Toriyama Sekien’s Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki. In this illustration, Abura-akago is seen as an infant spirit lapping oil out of an andon lamp. The image is quite striking, with the infant’s chubby cheeks and innocent expression contrasting with the eerie setting.

Other artists have also created their own interpretations of Abura-akago. For example, on DeviantArt, there are many pieces of art that depict Abura-akago in a variety of styles. Some are more cartoonish, while others are more realistic. However, all of them capture the essence of this unique yōkai.

Media Appearances

Abura-akago has also made appearances in various forms of media, such as anime, manga, and video games. In the anime series “Nurarihyon no Mago,” Abura-akago is portrayed as a mischievous and playful yōkai who enjoys causing trouble for humans. In the video game “Kogarashi,” Abura-akago is the main character and is depicted as a small, floating creature with a lantern-like body.

Overall, Abura-akago has been depicted in various artistic forms throughout history and has made appearances in various forms of media. Its unique appearance and mischievous nature make it a fascinating yōkai to learn about and explore.

Comparative Mythology

Similar Yokai Entities

Abura-akago is a type of yōkai, which is a supernatural creature or spirit in Japanese folklore. It is similar to other infant spirits or ghosts in Japanese culture, such as the ubume and the zashiki-warashi. The ubume is a ghost of a woman who died during childbirth, while the zashiki-warashi is a child spirit that brings good fortune to a household. These entities share similarities with the abura-akago, as they are all associated with infants and children.

Cross-Cultural Analysis

Comparative mythology involves the study of similarities and differences in myths and legends across different cultures. While the abura-akago is a unique entity in Japanese folklore, there are similar creatures in other cultures. For example, in Greek mythology, there is the tale of the Lampad, which are nymphs that are associated with lamps. Similarly, in Hindu mythology, there is the tale of the Churel, which is a ghost of a woman who died during childbirth and is associated with oil lamps.

These similarities suggest that there may be universal themes and archetypes in human mythology. The study of comparative mythology can provide insights into the human psyche and the ways in which different cultures express similar ideas and beliefs through their myths and legends.