Browsed by
Category: Uncategorized

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.

Episode 21: Screaming and Crushing in Four Buddhist Hells

Episode 21: Screaming and Crushing in Four Buddhist Hells

The first of two podcasts this month, Episode 21: Screaming and Crushing in Four Buddhist Hells, is just about that, four of the eight Buddhist Hot Hells. Come listen to what happens when you kill a mosquito, commit mutiny, or convince your drunken friend to do your evil bidding.

Also, you don’t want to lie, lest an oni pull your tongue out with red hot pliers. Look. That’s what it says right up there.

Episode 20: Ship Goddesses, Boat Ghosts, and Sea Monks (Funadama, Funa Yurei, Umi Bozu)

Episode 20: Ship Goddesses, Boat Ghosts, and Sea Monks (Funadama, Funa Yurei, Umi Bozu)

The third Monday of July is Umi no Hi (海の日), Marine Day, so this month on Uncanny Japan I decided to talk about three otherworldly ocean creatures: Ship Goddesses, Boat Ghosts, and Sea Monks. Funa dama (船霊), funa yurei (船幽霊), and umi bozu (海坊主).

This month’s Bedtime Story (over on Patreon) is a folktale I translated called: The Umbrella Sea Monster.

Umi Bozu

Notes: The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (from the album Ting Shuo).

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 6: Japanese Superstitions 1

Episode 6: Japanese Superstitions 1

In May’s Uncanny Japan you get three Japanese superstitions and why:

1)Please don’t cut your nails at night.

2)Please don’t whistle at night.

3) Please do kill spiders at night…or don’t, actually you might not want to. There’s a good argument why you should let those night spiders live.

Above is an Edo Era woman cutting her nails with some ginormous nail clippers.

—–

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.