Japanese Superstitions

Japanese Superstitions II: Spider Lilies and Ghostly Trees (Ep. 41)

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.

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Japanese Folklore

Seven Mysterious Things (nanafushigi) (Ep. 35)

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.

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Saikyo Tengu sarai
Japanese Folklore

Hidden by the Gods (kamikakushi) (Ep. 34)

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.

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Miminashi Hoichi
Story Time

Story Time: The Story of Mimi-Nashi Hoichi (Lafcadio Hearn) (Ep. 33)

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.

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Japanese Urban Legends

Human-Faced Fish (jinmengyo) (Ep. 30)

Next time you’re staring down into a rowdy school of koi, keep an eye out for the one that has a human face. This is a jinmengyo and rumor has it if you see one a tsunami is on its way.

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