Zashiki warashi (座敷童/座敷童子 zashiki warashi), sometimes also called Zashiki bokko, is a youkai, stemming from Iwate Prefecture.
According to folklore, to attract and maintain a zashiki warashi in the home it is said that "the spirit must be noticed, appreciated and cared for properly, much in the manner one would raise a child, though too much attention may drive it off." As the zashiki warashi is child-like in nature, it is prone to playing harmless pranks and occasionally causing mischief. They might, for instance, "sit on a guest's futon, turn people's pillows over or cause sounds similar to kagura music to be heard from rooms no one uses." Sometimes they leave little footsteps in ashes. There are different variations as to who can see the zashiki warashi; usually this is limited to inhabitants of the house, sometimes to children.
The appearance of this spirit is that of a 5 or 6 year child with bobbed hair and a red face. Zashiki warashi can be found in well-maintained and preferably large old houses. It is said that once a zashiki warashi inhabits a house, it brings the residence great fortune; on the other hand, should a zashiki warashi depart, the domain soon falls into a steep decline.
Compare to House Fey
- In the Manga ×××HOLiC, a Zashiki Warashi is represented as a character who developed feelings for the protagonist Kimihiro Watanuki.
- In the anime Mononoke, Zashiki Warashi were represented by small children who were killed in a brothel as a result of prostitution.
- In the manga Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan - Demon Capital/Nurarihyon no Mago ( Sennen Makyou ), there is a Zashiki Warashi named Yukari.
- In the manga and anime Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, the Hikikomori character Kiri Komori was thought to be a Zashiki Warashi by a classmate.
- In the anime Kimi ni Todoke, the protagonist was teased as a Zashiki Warashi when she was a child.
- In the manga Hell Teacher Nube, a Zashiki Warashi became attached to Nube-sensei.
- The main protagonist of the manga Waraenu Douji is a Zashiki Warashi.
- In Neko Musume Michikusa Nikki, the bakeneko Kurona is mistaken for a Zashiki Warashi while in human form by the old lady she lives with, due to showing up to help with chores and then mysteriously vanishing.
- A zashiki warashi appear in episode 9 of Somedays Dreamers. Yume is the only one who see her, and she help her find the disapeared old man she was looking for.
- Touhou Ibarakasen ~ Wild and Horned Hermit has a chapter where Gensokyo's population of Zashiki Warashi leaves to find gainful employment in the Outside World. Yukari offers a replacement in the form of hobgoblins, but the idea never takes off because people can't get past their appearances. There's still a happy ending: the Zashiki Warashi return after a whilenote and get warm welcomes home, while the hobgoblins become part of the Scarlet Devil Mansion's staff. However, it looks like Yukari herself may have set the whole thing up — they are her spies in the Outside World and the Human Village...
- Miyoi Okunoda, main character of Touhou Suichouka ~ Lotus Eater-tachi no Suisei is a zashiki warashi that protects the Geidontei pub from other youkai.
- In The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village, one of the main characters is a zashiki warashi.
- There's one in the Japanese animated film Summer Days with Coo.
- In Hoozuki no Reitetsu the titular character finds two Zashiki Warashi in an abandoned house, and ends up bringing them to the King Enma's palace and caring for them like two little nieces.
- In the anime White Album, Zashiki Warashi is referenced many times.
- In Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, Nakai Chitose is the nakai (waitress) and innkeeper of Yuragi Inn.
- In Ushio and Tora, a Zashiki Warashi appears early on: he was imprisoned in a sealed room by a family who's taking advantage of his presence to gain fortune and wealth, using their youngest Ill Girl daughter to keep him appeased. Ultimately he's released by Ushio and Tora and he becomes a secondary character who frequently helps the duo.
- A Zashiki Warashi was a Monster of the Week in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. Unlike all the other youkai in the show, he was friendly to humans and befriended the Kakurangers. Unfortunately, the bad guys were not going to have any of that.
- The New Years' episode of Engine Sentai Go-onger had the Go-Ongers encounter one at a hotel they were staying at.
- She appears as an NPC and attainable shikigami in Onmyōji. Frustrated by humans using her powers for their personal gain rather than regarding her as someone with thoughts and feelings like anybody else, when she is taken in by a widow who actually treats her like a normal child, she tries to keep her alive as long as she could.
- Yo-Kai Watch: The befriendable yokai Gnomey is known as "Zashiki Warashi" in Japan. They're playful, young boy-looking yokai who like living in old houses. Their Shadowside form resembles the traditional bob-haired design. Their ability to have the player win more money at the end of a battle is a refference to the good luck they bring to the houses.
- Marimari, the lead singer of the youkai band Shinimonogurui in Show by Rock!!, is a zashiki-warashi.
- The Pokémon Snorunt is based on this youkai as well as the yukinko (a childlike spirit that's said to only appear when it snows). It's said that any house that a Snorunt is living in will prosper for many generations.
- In Enchanted in the Moonlight, the protagonist eventually discovers that Samon, the young man who tends her family's shrine, is actually a zashiki warashi.
- Mitsu and Momo Yureimoto, the titular character's cousins in Erma, are particularly mischievous Zashiki warashi. Originally only implied by their appearance and behavior, but more or less confirmed in "The Recounted Days" arc.
Mitsu: We're supposed to bring good fortune to whoever's house we live in. Pretty lame power if you ask me.
- Zashiki Warashi are the eastern equivalent of changelings in "The Forsaken Children", having been taken by yokai.