In this episode I’m going to tell you a spooky tale called Yotsuya Kaidan, the story of Oiwa and her sad and vengeful ghost. This is one of the big Japanese ghost stories. Remember I told you about Okiku and the Nine Plates back in Episode 25. Today’s ghost, Oiwa, is as well-known as our poor Okiku.
Why is the beautiful Spider lily also called a corpse flower? Why didn’t samurai keep camellias in their gardens? Why do Japanese ghosts like to hang out under weeping willows?
On this episode of Uncanny Japan I’ll take on a few more Japanese superstitions, but this time plant and flower-related stories.
I forgo my usual format and invite my friend, fellow long time expat, and Sound Dude, Rich Pav, to join me in answering some listener questions about advice when coming to Japan.
Ever since I saw a mother discipline her child by threatening to call an oni/ogre, I’ve been wanting to do talk about this. Then I found out it really is a thing, an app called Oni Kara Denwa (A Call From an Oni, or as it’s translated in Japanese: Ghost Call)
A rock that gets weepy when the sun goes down, a pregnant woman slain alone in the mountains, a newborn baby visited by a ghostly priest who feds him candy to stay alive.
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.
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. This is Mr. Hearn’s most well-known story.
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.