Yokai (Monster) Street
Kyoto’s weirdest street!
Visit Kyoto’s weirdest street for a shopping trip with monsters and some local folklore. As the legend goes, thousands of years ago, yokai or “monsters” got fed up with humans and hundreds of them invaded the northern most street of the old capital of Kyoto.
Today, this street is known as “Yokai Street,” where you can see some of these traditional and not-so-traditional monsters. The owners of shops on this street started to construct monsters as a celebration of the legends. Some of them are based on Japanese folklore, and others are just a hodgepodge of things thrown together to look like a monster. Either way, it’s worth a visit while in Kyoto City.
As the story goes…
In Japanese folklore, yokai are feared and renowned. Most of the legends are used to scare children into doing their chores or being kind to each other. This is why you will sometimes see “monsters” made out of old broom sticks, or other household items. Make sure to sweep the house or the broom monster will come and get you!
Nearby monkey business
This is your opportunity to grab some authentic Japanese food and souvenirs. Since the street is not really a tourist destination, it is a great opportunity to experience a different side of Japan. Most of the shops cater to locals and some of them are hundreds of years old. Everything from fresh fish, to clothing and tea shops line the streets.]
If you happen to visit in September and October, the street also boasts “Monster”-themed events such as the “yokai parade” which is the area’s largest event of the year. Hundreds of people dress up as different monsters and parade through the streets in the evening, much like ancient Halloween traditions. They also hold a “ghost” flea market on the weekend, where monster themed goods are sold from dozens of shops. If you ever wanted earrings shaped like eyeballs, Japanese rice wine with spooky art labels, or stuffed animals of legendary Japanese monsters, you have come to the right place.
These events have different dates each year, so be sure to check out the official website to find the best time to go. Don’t miss out in this spooky treat when visiting Kyoto.
Looking for more strange parts of Japan? Check out some “offbeat” places!