Makuragaeshi

In Japanese folklore there is a yokai known as makuragaeshi, which translates as pillow flipper. This ghostly child spirit is believed to haunt rooms, and if you sleep there, you may wake up with your pillow flipped over, or even find it down at your feet. There are even accounts of entire futons being moved to a different location.

Masasumi Ryukansaijin (Kyoka Hyaku Monogatari)
While most makuragaeshi are happy just to play pranks, some are reportedly far more sinister. There are accounts of people being flipped over or thrown around in their sleep, and even makuragaeshi that sit on the victim’s chest, forcing the air from their lungs or causing a sleep paralysis.

Sophie Lupas
If the victim loses consciousness, this yokai may even steal their soul, causing them to die. Makuragaeshi are believed to be the ghosts of children who have died, either in the haunted room, or in connection to the place they haunt. So if you find little muddy footprints in your room, beware, you may be haunted by a makuragaeshi. Either that, or a tanuki is messing with you.

Shigeru Mizuki
The origins of this folklore are believed to be connected to the belief that one should not sleep with their head facing north, as this is said to be the direction associated with death. Furthermore, pillows were believed to be a magical object that allowed the sleeper to enter the world of dreams, and possibly for the soul to leave the body and journey through other worlds. Part of the fear of makuragaeshi is that by having your pillow moved, your dreaming soul may not be able to return to your living body.

Sekien Toriyama (Gazu Hyakki Yagyo)

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