Episode 15: Inviting a Friend to Die (Rokuyo)

Episode 15: Inviting a Friend to Die (Rokuyo)

The rokuyo (六曜) or six days is the Japanese calendar that you consult when preparing to engage in various affairs: wedding, funerals, trips, and business dealings to name a few. Some days are good for some things, other days are good for others. Some days are just bad, bad, bad.

If you take a good look at a lot of Japanese calendars and daily planners, they have two small kanji written in the corner of every day. These signify which of the six rokuyo that particular day is. You definitely don’t want to incur bad luck and have your wedding on a butsumetsu (仏滅 ) or invite a group of mourners to join the deceased loved one in the Buddha’s paradise by holding a funeral on a tomobiki (友引).

This month’s podcast is all about the rokuyo. Come listen while you take a ride with me on the local train via binaural mics.

Notes: The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (“Yi Gui” from Ting Shuo).  The whole album is just gorgeous as it everything else by FM3.

 

Episode 14: Living Buddhas-kinda… (Sokushinbutsu)

Episode 14: Living Buddhas-kinda… (Sokushinbutsu)

Listen to me talk about this wonderfully surreal thing I found: Living Buddhas (ikibotoke, 生き仏 or sokushinbutsu, 即身仏). The thing is, they’re not really alive, at least not anymore. *cue scary music*… no, seriously, cue the scary music, things are going to get weird.

Also, because I didn’t mention it in the podcast the background of this month’s Uncanny Japan was recorded at a local temple on New Year’s Eve at midnight. The sounds you hear are the people milling around wishing each other a Happy New Year and the temple bell being rung 108 times (to ring out our humanely sins). The latter thing is called Joya no Kane.

If you’re interested in ikibotoke/sokushinbutsu or self mummification, I found a page in Japanese about a route you can travel to see all the Living Buddhas in their respective temples up in Northern Honshu, in Yamagata Prefecture. Below I translated the highlights:

  1. Start at Nangakuji (南岳寺),  a nine-minute car ride from Tsuruoka Station (Yamagata Prefecture). Here you can find TetsuRyouKai, who became a sokushinbutsu in 1881.
  2. A 30-minute drive from there will take you to Honmyoji (本明寺) where you can see the Living Buddha, Honmyouji Shonin.
  3. Next take a 20-minute jaunt to 龍水寺大日坊・湯殿山総本寺 (Yudonosansouhonji). Here you’ll be able to pray to 真如海上人.
  4. Hop back in your car and drive 8-minutes to Yudonosan Churenji (湯殿山注連寺). The sokushinbutsu at this temple passed away in 1829.
  5. Lastly, drive one hour to Kaikouji (海向寺) . Here there are two Living Buddhas: Chukai  (忠海上人)who became an ikibotoke in 1785 and Enmyokai  (円明海上人) who became an ikibotoke in 1822.

It is said that these Living Buddhas can answer your prayers. So there’s that. Also, if you’re into amulets, the self mummified monks’ robes are changed occasionally and the cloth from the old garments is used to make omamori.

Notes: The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (“Yi Gui” from Ting Shuo).  The whole album is just gorgeous as it everything else by FM3.

Episode 13: Teachers Running (Shiwasu)

Episode 13: Teachers Running (Shiwasu)

Everyone’s busy. It’s the end of the year. Come listen to me talk about how we spend December in Japan while you listen to a mochi-pounding event in the background on binaural mics. There is cleaning, haircuts, paying debts and staying up all night to avoid gray hair.

 

 

Notes: The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (“Yi Gui” from Ting Shuo).  The whole album is just gorgeous as it everything else by FM3.

Episode 12: Tricky Numbers (Goro Awase)

Episode 12: Tricky Numbers (Goro Awase)

In Japan numbers can be tricky. Four is thought to invite death. Nine brings suffering and agony. But, hey! Eight is good!

Notes: The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (“Yi Gui” from Ting Shuo).  The whole album is just gorgeous as it everything else by FM3.

Audio Player

 

 

Episode 11: The Devil’s Gate (Kimon)

Episode 11: The Devil’s Gate (Kimon)

You have one. I have one. We all have one: a Devil’s Gate. It’s the place where oni (Japanese devils) sneak into your home, steal all your good luck and fine health, and scuttle away. It’s the place you have to be very careful about and treat with respect. The problem is, most of us have no idea where our Devil’s Gate (kimon) is, much less what to do to appease and/or keep out those pesky devils.

Walk with me in the pouring rain and listen to this month’s podcast. It’s all about your devil’s gate, where to find it, and what might be done to protect yourself and your family from those intrusive luck-nabbing oni.

A hanging talisman to ward off devils and ogres and oni. Hell, yeah!

 

This incident I talk about in the podcast (the moving and my mother-in-law) was the impetus for my short story “My Devil’s Gate” that was published in my first collection: A Robe of Feathers and Other Stories.

Notes: The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (“Yi Gui” from Ting Shuo).  The whole album is just gorgeous as it everything else by FM3.