Simply put, they are creatures from Japanese folklore. England has ogres and pixies; Ireland has leprechauns and banshees; Germany has elves and dwarves; Japan has yokai. Just as ideas like angels, devils, goblins, and bogeymen are an integral part of Western culture, yokai are an integral part of Japanese culture. Some are demons, some are monsters, some are cute and funny. They have been part of Japanese folklore for over one thousand years, and still influence Japan today. Japanese movies, comics, video games, and TV -- Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, even Pokemon -- owe all of their fantastical elements to yokai -- yet yokai are almost entirely unknown outside of Japan.