Episode 35: Seven Mysterious Things (Nanafushigi)

Episode 35: Seven Mysterious Things (Nanafushigi)


A giant hairy foot crashing through the roof of a old house and demanding to be washed. A festive tanuki band that appears in the dead of night and lures you into parts unknown. These are just two of the Honjo Nanafushigi. Nanafushigi can be translated as seven wonders, but they’re more like seven mysteries. All over Japan you can find stories (old and new) of seven strange occurances. As an introduction to my new idea of covering local legends and creepy tales, this month’s podcast is about nanafushigi. I’ll be talking about both the Honjo Nanafushigi and a little about how even all over Japan schools will often have their own nanafushigi that are more like local urban legends to spook and baffle the children.

Okuri Chochin. Beware of following a lantern at night!

※Notes: Intro/Outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura. Here and here. And here.

Episode 34: Hidden by the Gods (Kamikakushi)

Episode 34: Hidden by the Gods (Kamikakushi)


Today’s show feels like a wacky and wonderful one. You see, I started talking about the tengu in Episode 32 (Heavenly Dogs and Brilliant Swordsmen),  but I wasn’t able to cover one of my favorite things about this red faced, long nosed, mountain warrior. That being the notion of kamikakushi (神隠し) or being spirited away. In this episode I get into that but the more I researched the really wild and fascinating information I ran across.

In this Episode 34: Spirited Away (Kamikakushi), I’ll tell you about the Shinto scholar Atsutane Hirata who back in the 1800s interviewed and wrote a book about a boy (Torakichi) who had claimed to have been abducted by a tengu for many years. There are stories of 100-days fasts, trees that glow from an inner light, and small unlucky men riding horses who are born from the placenta of a new born baby.

All this while I walk through a drizzly evening, recording the first frogs of the season.

※Notes: Intro/Outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura. Here and here. And here.

Episode 33: Story Time – The Story of Mimi-Nashi Hoichi (Lafcadio Hearn)

Episode 33: Story Time – The Story of Mimi-Nashi Hoichi (Lafcadio Hearn)


After coming to live in Japan (1890), Lafcadio Hearn listened intently to the folk stories and ghostly tales that were related to him. He then wrote them down in English, adding his own unique style and began publishing books of his gathered observances and retellings. Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, Exotics and Retrospectives, and Kwaidan to name a few.

Today on Uncanny Japan, I read you “Mimi-nashi Hoichi”, arguably Mr. Hearn’s most well known story. A story that has been made into a movie, appears on stage, shows up in manga, music, and is told on stages even today. As a matter of fact, I have tickets to go see a performance of Mimi-Nashi Hoichi in May.

 

 

The music bed for today’s Story Time by my musician son, who also does the intro/outro music. Julyan Ray Matsuura. Here and here. And here.

Episode 32: Heavenly Dogs and Brilliant Swordsmen (The Tengu)

Episode 32: Heavenly Dogs and Brilliant Swordsmen (The Tengu)


There are two types of tengu: the karasu/crow tengu and the hanadaka/long-nosed tengu. They’re both awesome martial artists and fearsome foes, among other things.  On episode 32, I’ll introduce you to these two super cool Japanese yokai and tell you a little bit about their lore.

 

A Hanadaka (long-nosed) Tengu

 

Notes: Intro/Outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura. Here and here. And here.

Episode 31: Story Time – Of a Mirror and a Bell (Lafcadio Hearn)

Episode 31: Story Time – Of a Mirror and a Bell (Lafcadio Hearn)


Story Time is a little bit different than the usual Uncanny Japan podcast. Instead of me telling you about some interesting, odd, or spooky tidbit, I’ll be reading you a story. This is something I do over on Patreon once a month. There I call them Bedtime Stories and they’re more varied, from obscure pieces of folklore I find, translate, and slightly reimagine (for the story’s sake), to pieces I discover in the public domain and sometimes even my own work. But that’s that.

Here on Uncanny Japan, I’ve decided to also occasionally visit story telling. The folktales will be different than the ones on Patreon and I’m going to start with some of Lafcadio Hearn’s wonderful pieces that are up on Gutenberg.

Another thing, on the regular Uncanny Japan podcasts I use my binaural mics to record ambient sounds from my little part of Japan. However, with the Story Time episodes I’ll be using a music bed provide by my musician son, who also does the intro/outro music. Julyan Ray Matsuura. Here and here. And here.