The Yato (夜兎; literally meaning "Night Rabbit") are a race of humanoid Amanto renowned for their incredible strength. It is to be assumed that they are called "rabbits" as rabbits are generally very susceptible to heat exhaustion. Just like the Yatos, direct sunlight weakens them and can even lead to death.
Like other names in Gintama (such as Shinsengumi), Yato can be traced back to an existing word Yato 野兎 meaning 'Wild Rabbit'.
The Yato Tribe (夜兎族) closely resemble humans, but are physically much more powerful.
They are known as blood-thirsty Amanto whose killing instincts and insatiable hunger for supremacy leads them to seek out the best fighters of the universe to challenge, even among their own kind. Their amazing supernatural and instinctive fighting abilities, and tremendously overwhelming physical strength, speed, durability, adaptability, reflexes, stamina, endurance, willpower, and senses all of which far surpass human and most other Amanto capabilities gives them an overwhelming advantage in battle, which also means that they are very difficult to defeat. Tsukuyo herself has stated that an entire army wouldn't be enough to handle four Yato. Kagura was able to dodge bullets, and easily catch them with her hands and teeth.
They are also known to have flawless and fair skin and amazingly well-toned bodies, with strong and flexible muscles, incredible regenerative healing capabilities, and immunity. Also they are known to be gluttonous, capable of eating virtually anything in large quantities without trouble, as shown by Kamui and Kagura, and lustful as shown by Housen and Umibozu. Abuto has also stated that men Yato are "well-endowed".
Their only known Achilles heel is their inability to completely adapt to sunlight, which was what killed Housen eventually in Episode 146, though Housen was killed by the sunlight because of his many years inside without the slighest exposure. Normally, prolonged exposure to sunlight will only make Yato feel weaker and sickly, as shown with Kagura in Episode 296.
The Yatos original home world was called Kouan. But centuries before the start of the series, the planet was nuked by a coalition of other planets' armies during a war. This killed a sizable part of the population and greatly altered the landscape of Kouan. Most survivors fled the planet while the rest tried to eek out a living in the devastated world, sparking the Yato diaspora. The fleeing survivors will settle on other planets, but will become an endangered species due to their low populations.
Housen was the king of the Yato race, also known as "King of the Night" due to him being the strongest Yato and conquering other Yato. He encounters another strong Yato called Umibouzu but he refuse to submit to Housen. Both Umibouzu and Housen once fought each other continuously for 3 days, the only reason they stopped fighting was because Umibouzu needed a toilet break, and no victor was declared.
Housen founded and lead the Harusame 7th division, Kamui now holds Housen's position. Kamui and Housen used to have a master-and-disciple relationship, which has since broken down due to Kamui's ambition to defeat Housen who along with Umibouzu, were known as the most powerful Yatos. Though still a teenager by all accounts, Kamui's spectacular fighting abilities has elevated him to the rank of Captain of the 7th Division of Harusame's Thunder Guns the most powerful combat unit with the Harusame group. The two followers who tagged along with him to Yoshiwara were Abuto and Ungyou.
There was an old tradition where the son would challenge their father to the death but this tradition has been thrown away due to the dangerous decline of the species. Kamui tried to revive this tradition by trying to kill his father.
Due to their weakness to the sun, they always carry an umbrella or are fully wrapped up whenever they appear in daylight. Their umbrellas are their main weapon in combat.
The Yato clothing are based on Manchu Chinese clothing.
- "Yato" uses the kanji for "Night", which is also found in Yasha (夜叉).