The legend of the Zashikiwarashi (guest-room child), a young kimono clad girl who suddenly appears in one’s home, is one all Japanese people are familiar with. In Tohoku area, especially in Iwate prefecture, many legends still exist telling of a spirit that appears in one’s house and showers it with good fortune, although sometimes it can also play a harmless prank. Some legends say that a white Zashikiwarashi is a symbol of good luck while a red Zashikiwarashi is a warning to move to another house. The common element to all these legends is that the Zashikiwarashi are either the spirits of the dead or guardian deities who move in to one’s house. Everyone covets the good luck that comes along with these charming guardian deities.
Today we feature illustrations of the small spirits and guardian deities depicted in Japanese legends.