Since Halloween is also a widely celebrated holiday in Japan, we decided to put together a post that features the scariest supernatural figures from the country's folklore — yurei, which translates as "dim spirit(s)." They're poltergeist-like entities and, to put it mildly, are terrifying as hell. Check out these astounding pieces of Irezumi that capture just how scary these tortured souls really are.
In Japanese folklore, it is traditionally believed that people have souls called reikon, and when a person dies, if they undergo the proper burial rituals they will go onto an afterlife with all of their ancestors and visit the realm of the living yearly to bless and receive thanks from their progeny. However, if an individual meets a particularly gruesome end, such as murder or suicide, and the proper funeral rites are not performed, it is said that his or her spirit will be transformed into a yurei and be bound to earth, haunting others until their unfulfilled desires are satisfied. They are particularly violent and mischievous ghosts that feed off the misery of others and are driven by negative emotions like hatred, jealousy, and sorrow.
Yurei are traditionally depicted as being female with pale blue skin. Their hands and faces are frequently red with the blood, and they sometimes carry namakubi — the severed heads of their victims — or fiery lanterns. Their bodies are typically extremely contorted as an outward expression of their tortured state of being. Every aspect of these apparitions is marked by a volatile mixture of grief and rage. They are, in short, the ultimate embodiment of spiritual unrest in all of traditional Japanese art.
We hope you found these tattoos of yurei as spooky as we did. If you want to see more excellent Irezumi by the artists who illustrated these bone-chilling female spirits, check out the Instagrams listed in the captions. Also, if you want a piece of body art featuring one of these Japanese ghosts, consider seeking out one of them to do the tattoo.