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 and Sleep Paralysis Creature.
- ×××HOLiC: A Zashiki Warashi is represented as a character who developed feelings for the protagonist Kimihiro Watanuki.
- Digimon Ghost Game has an episode titled "Zashiki-Warashi" where the main trio visit a hotel believed to have one. Naturally it turns out to be a Digimon (Koemon), but other than that it fits the bill pretty well - it plays little pranks, tries to play with the guests, and is given a little shrine by the hotel staff. The reason it starts acting out more is because the old lady who knew what he was left without saying goodbye.
- The Fox & Little Tanuki: Senzou and Manpachi's first assignment is to help a zashiki-warashi whose house has fallen into disrepair and has become haunted. Senzou makes things worse by setting the house on fire, turning the zashiki-warashi into a monster, but Manpachi manages to reach out to him and put him at peace.
- In the manga Hell Teacher Nube, a Zashiki Warashi became attached to Nube-sensei.
- In Hozuki's Coolheadedness 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.
- One shows up in volume 4 of Interviews with Monster Girls, prompting the the person residing in its house (who's the only one able to see it) to take care of it and start being more responsible.
- Kimi ni Todoke: The protagonist's creepy looks got her teased as a Zashiki Warashi when she was a child.
- Mononoke: Zashiki Warashi were represented by small children who were killed in a brothel as a result of prostitution.
- 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.
- In the manga and anime Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, the Hikikomori character Kiri Komori was thought to be a Zashiki Warashi by a classmate.
- A zashiki warashi appear in episode 9 of Someday's Dreamers. Yume is the only one who see her, and she helps her find the old man she was looking for.
- Touhou Project:
- 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 Ushio and Tora, a Zashiki Warashi appears early on: she was imprisoned in a sealed room by a family who's taking advantage of her presence to gain fortune and wealth, using their ill youngest daughter to keep her appeased. Ultimately she's released by Ushio and Tora and she becomes a secondary character who frequently helps the duo.
- 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 one short-story/episodenote of Rumiko Takahashi Anthology, married couple Hanako and Ryuiichi were planning to move out of their apartment into a house, and had chosen one to buy, but needed a loan from Ryuiichi's mother (who was planning to live together with them in the new house) in order to afford it. In an apparent attempt to make the deal fall through, a zashiki-warashi which was only visible to Hanako showed up and started causing mischief, making it seem to her mother-in-law as though Hanako was acting erratically. It turns out, though, that the zashiki-warashi had a good reason for doing that: unbeknownst to Hanako and Ryuiichi, the house that they'd chosen was about to be destroyed by a landslide, and this was the only way that the zashiki-warashi was able to warn them about this (because it wasn't capable of human speech). So, as in the usual zashiki-warashi mythology, the zashiki-warashi in this story did bring good luck to the person who could see it.
- The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village: The main character lives with a zashiki warashi in a world where youkai have emerged from obscurity once more.
- The New Years' episode of Engine Sentai Go-onger had the Go-Ongers encounter one at a hotel they were staying at.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Ghostwire: Tokyo the ghost of an elderly woman entreats the player character Akito (and KK) to rescue her Zashiki Warashi from her (equally dead) landlord. The landlord imprisoned the youkai to try and take its luck for himself but by mistreating it he brought bad luck on himself which eventually killed him, leaving him a corrupted specter still trying to hold on to the poor creature. Thankfully it's relatively easy to banish the wretch and free her.
- 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.
- Marimari, the lead singer of the youkai band Shinimonogurui in Show by Rock!!, is a zashiki-warashi.
- 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.
- 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 behaviour, 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.