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Kyoto, Japan

Yokai Street

This neighborhood thoroughfare is haunted by dozens of homemade monsters. 

Kyoto, Japan’s Ichijo-dori street is a fairly typical neighborhood street save for the dozens of monsters standing sentinel in front of most of the local businesses.

Also known as Yokai (“monster”) Street, the tight commercial lane celebrates the often strange beings that populate local folklore. There is a wide range of yokai in Japanese legend ranging from good to mischievous to outright evil. Some are animals, some are human, and some are inanimate objects that have simply come to life. Many of the creatures come from children’s stories or teachable fables parents might tell their children so they would take care of their things and not be wasteful. For instance, treat the broom with respect or, when you break it, it will come alive and haunt you.

Ichijo-dori street is home to a around 30 of these outlandish creatures that have been created by the owners of the businesses they haunt. Some are fully sculpted statuettes while others are odd hodgepodges of clothing and toys. Despite what it might seem like, the street is not a typical tourist grab. It is populated by small local businesses catering to clientele in the neighborhood. There are not souvenir shops or anything of the sort, simply fun, quirky attempts to bring some attention to the neighborhood and breathe some life into aspects of all but forgotten Japanese folklore.

Know Before You Go

Standing at the south exit of the shrine on Imadegawa dori you will see a street just east that leads south. Walk south a couple of minutes until you hit a small huddle of shops. Turn west and you will run into these guys.