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Shiryō (死霊, しりょう)
Shiryō means “dead ghost” and stands in contrast to the ikiryō, or living ghost.
Shiryō can be considered synonymous with yūrei (“faint spirit”), as they are both words for the classic Japanese ghost. However while yūrei can be creepy some times and beautifully mysterious at other times, shiryō is only used to refer to scary, nasty ghosts. The inclusion of the kanji for “death” in the name is the clue that this ghost is not to be romanticised.
Shiryō can act in similar ways as ikiryō, appearing to relatives or close friends of the deceased. While ikiryō usually appear in the moments just before death, a shiryō appears in the moments just after death. When they appear, it is most often to give one last goodbye to their loved ones before departing… however, when a shiryō appears it is not always to say goodbye, but instead to take their loved ones with them into the world beyond…
Shiryō belief goes back into the mists of unrecorded history in Japanese folklore, and has long been a staple of folk superstition. One famous account is recorded in the Tōno Monogatari, a 1910 collection of folk beliefs which gave birth to the field of academic folklore research in Japan. In this story, there was a young girl who lived together with her father. After her father died, his shiryō appeared before the young girl and tried to take her with him into the world of the dead. The girl narrowly escaped and fled from the house to ask for help. Every night, various friends and distant family members agreed to stay overnight in the house with her and watch over her, and every night without fail, her father’s shiryō came looking for her, to try to take her away. Finally, after a month of sleepless, terrifying nights, the ghost stopped appearing, and the girl was left in peace.