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.
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.
Notes: The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (from the album Ting Shuo).
This month’s podcast is a special one. Not only did I do a podcast about a strange little creature called the amanojaku (天邪鬼), but at the end I attached one of my Bedtime Stories that I record monthly for my Patrons. So if you stay tuned after the podcast (a whopping 10 minutes), you’ll be treated to my interpretation (the happy-ending version) of Urikohime (瓜子姫), The Melon Princess and the Amanojaku.
The podcast: The amanojaku is a nasty Japanese beastie that predates Buddhism, might have originated from a Shinto deity, who you can usually find getting trampled on by the Four Heavenly Kings at temples all around Japan.
Amanojaku is also a word used to describe a contrary person.
I want to give super special thanks to my Tech Guy for working so hard on getting the sound so good. I’m not an attention-to-detail kind of person. But he is and works his butt off, not to mention he has mad skills. Thank you, Rich Pav!
Notes: The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (fromthe album Ting Shuo). The music bed on the Bedtime Story is by Julyan Matsuura. I’m looking forward to having more of his songs accompanying my Bedtimes Stories and most likely the intro/outro soon.
This month on Uncanny Japan I talk about Ubasuta Yama (姥捨山) or Granny Dumping Mountain. Back in old Japan when times were tough and there were too many mouths for one family to feed, they might do something called kuchi herashi (口減らし) or getting rid of mouths. One way to do this was to send one (or more) of your children to live with a wealthier family. Another way to cut down on the number of mouths that needed to be fed was to haul grandma or grandpa up into the mountains and leave them to fend for themselves. Some say it’s just a folktale, others say why of course this happened! What do you think?
I found a movie in Japanese called Dendera. It’s catch copy is: There is a Continuation to Ubasute Yama. And the is the poster for it. Brilliant!
ETA: The station in Nagano is Ubasute Eki (姨捨駅). I mention in the podcast that the first character for uba is little sister. I was wrong, it’s ‘aunt’. So throwing away aunts. Who I am supposing are older than little sisters.
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.