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Japan: Monsters and Ghosts - Evidence and Legends

Japan has an extremely rich history of monster folklore and tales. This monster lore is an important feature of Japanese culture, and the monsters told of hundreds of years ago now feature in modern movies, stories, and language. To a lessor extent there are also reports that some of these bizarre creatures may be real; and there has certainly been a modern effort to try and 'explain' some of the old monster beliefs in terms of misidentified flora and fauna, similar to efforts to 'explain' dragon reports from Europe and China as being related to dinosaur bones. There are basically two types of mysterious beings reported in Japan, Yuurei (which roughly means "ghosts") and Youkai (which roughly means "monsters"), but the line between the two categories is often blurred.