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.
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.
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.
One, two, three… Okiku kneeling, counts the priceless plates that have been entrusted to her. Four, five, six… her samurai master, Tessan, stands, hands on hips, he watches her trembling hands. Seven, eight, nine… Okiku gasps. She checks the wooden chest, looks around panicked. There were ten. Now there are nine. Where did the other one go? Tessan enraged accuses her of stealing it, or perhaps breaking it and hiding the pieces. Where did she hide them? Maybe in the well. Tessan drags the poor servant girl from the room and to the well where in a fit of rage he throws her in to her death.
The following night Tessan awakes to the sound of Okiku carefully counting the plates. One, two, three… When she reaches nine and discovers there is no tenth plate she lets out an inhuman scream that shakes Tessan to his bones. This happens again and again until driven mad, Tessan takes up his own blade and ends his life.
Episode 25 of Uncanny Japan is me on a local train telling you about Okiku, the poor servant girl who is still believed to haunt the well where she perished so many years ago. If you hear her count to nine, you too will die a horrible death. If you hear her but flee before she gets to seven, you may perhaps live, but you may also lose some of your mind.
Notes: Intro/Outro music
by Julyan Ray Matsuura. Here and here. And here.
Episode 24 of Uncanny Japan is a story, a Bedtime Story. Here I read to you my retelling and reimagining of a classic Japanese folktale Kachi Kachi Yama (Kachi Kachi Mountain). There are quite a few versions of the story out there. This one is very PG and everyone friendly. The more true-to-the-original and very slightly R-rated is over as extra content on Patreon.
Notes: Intro/Outro music and music bed by Julyan Ray Matsuura. Here and here. And here.