Greetings yokai fans!
August is almost over, and 2 more ghosts to go! I guess I won’t be sleeping for the rest of this month… Today’s story is #3 of Japan’s Top 3 Ghost Stories. Technically, Botan doro is actually a Chinese story. It was adapted into Japanese, with the names, places, and time period reimagined (Kyoto during the Onin War) for its Japanese audience.
In the 19th century there were popular theatrical versions of this story made for rakugo and kabuki. The kabuki story is the most famous version, and the main one you’ll find on the internet and in books. I posted it on my blog years ago, Lafcadio Hearn translated that version for his books, and it pretty much dominates the story.
I decided to go back a little further for this version and tell the “original” Japanese remake. I feel like it is a little creepier; in the kabuki version it’s a love story that carries on after death. In the first Japanese version, it’s just a ghost who happens to catch a human. A subtle difference, I know, but I feel like it’s a little purer. It feels more like a folk tale rather than an elaborate drama.
Anyway, here is the tale of Otsuyu, from Botan Doro.
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