5 Ways to Say “Demon” in Japanese (Best Words & Kanji)

How to Say Demon in Japanese - Best Words With Kanji including Akuma Oni Youkai

Today’s vocabulary lesson is about the Japanese word for “demon” or “demons“. You’re not only going to learn the 5 common ways to say “demon” in Japanese, but I will explain you in detail the difference and exact usage of each of them. Let’s get started with the 3 most important words.

Akuma (悪魔), oni (鬼), and youkai (妖怪) are the most commonly used words for “demon” or “demons” in Japanese. The word “akuma” is used for western-style demons, while “oni” refers to the ogre-like Japanese demons. “Youkai” are funny spirits or demons that often resemble animals or common objects.

Read on to learn all 5 ways to say “demon” in Japanese. Some of them have multiple translations, so you are going to find out exactly in which situation you should use which word. After that, we will also have a look at how to say “Demon Slayerin Japanese and the real meaning of the anime title “Kimetsu no Yaiba“.

How to Say “Demon” in Japanese

  • akuma – 悪魔
  • oni – 鬼
  • akuryou – 悪霊
  • youkai – 妖怪
  • deemon – デーモン

1. Akuma – Means “Demon”, “Devil”, or “Satan”

Akuma (悪魔) means “demon“, “devil“, or “Satan” in Japanese. According to Wikipedia, it is a malevolent fire spirit that brings suffering to human beings and is the best word to use when referring to western-style demons. They are usually depicted with horns, fiery eyes, and demon-like wings.


The two kanji by themselves translate as “evil” or “wickedness” (悪) and “demon“, “devil“, or “evil spirit” (魔).

2. Oni – Means “Ogre”, “Demon”, or “Troll”

The word oni (鬼) can be translated as “demon“, “devil“, “ogre“, or “troll” and refers to Japanese-style demons, normally called ogres in the West. Oni usually have red, blue, or green skin, one or two horns, sharp canines, and often hold a huge iron club with spikes in their hand as a weapon.

However, in contrast to the word akuma (悪魔), which is always used to refer to something evil in Japanese, oni can not simply be described as evil. Sometimes they are actually rather friendly demons that don’t do any harm to humans.



3. Akuryou – Means “Evil Spirit” or “Demon”

Akuryou (悪霊), which can also be read as akurei, is a less commonly used Japanese word that translates as “evil spirit” but can also mean “demon“. Those evil spirits are believed to cause misfortune (illness, bad luck, etc.) through curses or by possessing their victims.

The word akuryou (悪霊) consists of the kanji for evil” or “wickedness“, which is 悪 (aku), and the kanji for soul“, “spirit“, or “ghost“, which is 霊 (rei).

evil spirit

4. Youkai – Means “Ghost”, “Demon”, “Monster”, or “Goblin”

In Japanese, the word youkai (妖怪) is used to refer to supernatural spirits and can be translated as “ghost“, “demon“, “monster“, or “goblin“. Youkai are mischievous monsters that often have animal features or resemble objects, plants, and sometimes humans and are a popular part of Japanese folklore.

They are not really what we would consider “demons” in the West and there are also some youkai that are extremely friendly and helpful to humans.


Some of the more known and popular youkai include the kappa (河童), a green turtle or frog-like spirit, the tengu (天狗), a bird-like creature with black wings, a red face, and a long nose, as well as the really funny kasa-obake (傘おばけ), which is a spirit that looks like an umbrella. No joke!

5. Deemon – English Loanword Meaning “Demon”

Deemon (デーモン) is an English loanword meaning “demon“. It is less commonly used in daily conversation, but just like other loanwords, it can frequently be seen as part of game titles, anime and manga titles, names for supernatural powers, etc.


The Meaning of “Kimetsu no Yaiba” (Anime: Demon Slayer)

In Japanese, the popular anime “Demon Slayer” is called “Kimetsu no Yaiba” and the title literally translates as “The Blade of Demon Destruction” or “The Demon Destroyer’s Blade“. The word “Kimetsu” (鬼滅) is not an actual existing Japanese word and is made up by the manga artist Koyoharu Gotoge.

kimetsu no yaiba (鬼滅の刃)
literal translation: The Blade of Demon Destruction
or also: The Demon Destroyer’s Blade
official English title: Demon Slayer

So let’s take a closer look at the title and its literal translation!

The first character 鬼 is the kanji forogre” or “demon” and is used to refer to the Japanese-style demons called “oni”. The latter, 滅, is the kanji fordestroy“, “ruin“, “overthrow“, or “perish“. It is also used in the word messuru (滅する) which means “to destroy“, “to extinguish“, or “to get rid of“.

So put together the word kimetsu (鬼滅) can be translated as “destruction of demons” or “destroying demons“. You could even translate it as “demon destroyer” or “destroyer of demons” since it is a made-up word anyway.

The second word no (の) is the possessive particle that can be translated as “…of…” and the last word yaiba (刃) means “blade“, or “sword“.

  • kimetsu (鬼滅): “destruction of demons” or “demon destroyer
  • no (の): “… of ...” or “‘s
  • yaiba (刃): “blade“, or “sword

So put together you get the following literal translations of “Kimetsu no Yaiba“:

  • The Blade of Demon Destruction
  • The Demon Destroyer’s Blade
  • The Sword of Demon Destruction
  • The Demon Destroyer’s Sword

Maybe also something along the lines of “The Demon Slaying Sword” or “The Blade Slaying Demons“.

How do You Say Demon Slayer in Japanese?

The popular anime “Demon Slayer” is called Kimetsu no Yaiba (鬼滅の刃, きめつのやいば) in Japanese. However, since “kimetsu” (鬼滅) is not an actual Japanese word a more accurate translation of the word demon slayer in Japanese would be onigoroshi (鬼殺し) or maybe oni sureiyaa (鬼スレイヤー).

Demon Slayer (anime)
Kimetsu no Yaiba

demon slayer (person)

demon slayer (person)
oni sureiyaa

You could also say deemon sureiyaa (デーモンスレイヤー) using only English loanwords. Just like the Japanese word for dragon slayer which is doragon sureiyaa (ドラゴンスレイヤー).

deemon sureiyaa
demon slayer

doragon sureiyaa
dragon slayer


おはよう. I'm Alex. I have started studying Japanese when I was still a high school student and I have been living and working in Japan since 2015. I'm still learning new Japanese phrases and words every day and I thought that publishing them online will be useful for you, too. Hopefully, my study notes and free Japanese lessons will help you to reach the Japanese level you want to have! If you want to practice your Japanese for free follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram.

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