In the ghost lore of Japan, the mononoke are a type of ghost comparable to the poltergeist, but which live in inanimate objects. According to Shinto belief, all things, even inanimate objects, have their own unique spirit, or kami, which gives them life. The mononoke, however, like to scare or even kill people. Most of them live in or around temples, shrines and graveyards. Supposedly, priests can drive them away by reciting Buddhist sutras.
The word Mononoke may theoretically be used to refer to any kind of spirit. Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 film, Princess Mononoke, may be translated as “Princess of the Spirits,” but the word is also specifically used for a kind of possessing spirit. Mononoke are spirits that can inhabit inanimate objects. Mononoke live near shrines, temples, and cemeteries but can slip inside objects and appliances.
According to Japanese tradition, once a year, inanimate objects become animated: they come to life. It is their annual opportunity to administer justice, rewarding or punishing humans as they deem fit.
Some Mononoke are the stuff of nightmares, like doors or walls with eyes. Other Mononoke are your favorite household appliances now come to life. Many have prankster inclinations. Some are hostile to people and enjoy scaring them. Mononoke sometimes display poltergeistlike activity and occasionally are genuinely destructive. Mononoke can be exorcised.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.