Yūrei is the Japanese counterpart to the western ghosts. The name Yūrei consists of two kanji 幽  (Yū) meaning "faint" and 霊 (Rei) meaning "soul" or "spirit". 
According to traditional Japanese beliefs all humans have a soul called a 
霊魂 (reikon). When a person dies the reikon leaves the body and waits in a purgatory of sorts until a funeral and all the rites are performed. Then it can join its ancestors in protecting the family.
The reikon will then return to the family yearly during the お盆 (obon) festival which is a Buddhist tradition in honoring the spirits of one's ancestors. During this tradition the family returns to ancestral places to visit and clean the graves of their ancestors.
If the person however dies in a sudden or violent manner such as murder or suicide and/or the proper rites have not been performed or furthermore if they are influenced by strong emotions such as revenge, love, jealousy, hatred or sorrow the reikon instead becomes a Yūrei.
The Yūrei will continue to exist until the passing on is justified by either it completing what it wanted or missing rites having been performed.

The appearance of the Yūrei is traditional white clothing, black disheveled hair, hands and feet dangling from the wrist and they are usually accompanied by hidotama.

Types of Yūrei
There are also different types of Yūrei.
1. Onryō: Vengeful ghosts who come back to seek vengeance on someone who wronged them.
2. Ubume: A mother ghost who died in childbirth usually comes back to care for the children by for example giving them treats.
3. Goryō: Like Onryō they are vengeful ghosts although from the aristocratic class. These were usually martyred.
4. Funayūrei: A ghost of a person who died at sea. Sometimes depicted as fish-like humanoids.
5. Zashiki-warashi: Ghosts of children who are usually mischievous rather than dangerous.
6. Fuyūrei: Floating spirits. These ghost have no specific purpose and float around aimlessly in the air.
7. Jibakurei: Similarly to Fuyūrei these ghosts do not have a specific purpose but are instead tied to a specific place.

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