I am looking for a Japanese term, that has the same meaning as the Greek diphues (διφυής) “of two natures”, or latin semifera, which means part human, part animal. It is a term to encompase mythological creatures like centaurs, the Minotaur, sphinx, etc...

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    – Eddie Kal
    Feb 19, 2022 at 18:31
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    Kemonohito (獣人) are creatures that can transform from a human shape to an animal shape. Hanju (半獣)"half beast" is much much closer to what I'm looking for! Thank you
    – Walter
    Feb 20, 2022 at 3:36

1 Answer 1


There is no such word (AFAIK) in Japanese, for two reasons:

Reason 1

Example: half-human + half-cow (bull, ox, etc.):

  • If it was a family of Minotaur, it would be a 怪物

  • If it was a family of Kudan, it would be a 妖怪

We tend to categorize a group of similar bodies depending on perspective: terrorist/holy-warrior, rotting/fermenting. Thus a creature may be: 怪物, 獣, 神, 神獣, 動物, 知的生命体, etc. for unreasonable reasons. Talk about double standards and racism.

Therefore, we have no choice but to describe the creature using appropriate terms:

  • Mr. Minotaur is a: 半分人、半分牛の姿をした怪物
  • Mr. Kudan is a: 半分人、半分牛の姿をした妖怪

In terms of Sphinx, she's in a totally different league, as she's closer to god.

Reason 2

If I'm correct, I believe you're talking dualism, which is a conceptual representation of how two components reside among one entity of a system. Then, the Egyptian version of Sphinx would fit in, but the Greek version (child of Orthrus) with at least three or sometimes four (human + lion + bird + snake/serpent) components would not. It would be blasphemous to include her in the example of dualism.

As mentioned in comments, 半獣 may sound good at first, if we ignore the fact some of those "creatures" are not 獣. But there's a bigger problem with the :

in 獣 doesn't necessarily mean the system is composed of 1/2 + 1/2. The concept of 半ば allows interpretation that as long as there is at least one component that satisfies 1/2, the requirement is satisfied. Thus:

  • ManBearPig = 半獣 (because it is half human)
  • ManBearPig ≠ dualism (because there are three components)

Therefore, 半獣 ≠ dualism. And there is most probably no word that satisfies the criteria you seek.

  • Have you heard of the term Hanjujin (半獣人)? Do you think that might be a good term for what I am looking for?
    – Walter
    Feb 22, 2022 at 15:31

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