Kasane

Greetings yokai fans!

It’s been a busy day, but it’s not yet midnight on August 31st and I’ve finished the final ghost for this month. Phew!

I’m not sure why, but I really like Kasane. Maybe it’s the brutal nature of her exorcism, but it’s just a fun story.

The illustration is something that you don’t get to see in the main story: the ghost of Kasane going after the 6 wives of her bastard of a husband. She’s often depicted in ukiyoe as a hideous ghost carrying a bloody sickle. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish her from Oiwa, because they both have messed up faces, but you can usually tell it’s Kasane when you see either the bloody sickle, or a bridge in the background. I find it interesting that Japanese ghosts have these little symbols sort of in the same way that Christian saints do. It makes it helpful to tell them apart that’s for sure!

This is a long one, so be forewarned!

Kasane

kasane

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Otsuyu

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.

Otsuyu

otsuyu

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Oiwa

Greetings yokai fans!

I hope you’re enjoying your final month of summer! Just now as the nights are starting to hint at slightly cooler weather on the horizon, I really feel in the mood for ghost stories.
Oiwa is the ghost from Yotsuya Kaidan, Japan’s most famous ghost story. It’s the godfather of all Japanese ghost stories, because even though it’s by no means the oldest, it is the most influential. Many of the tropes you see in present-day Japanese horror were established with this kabuki play.

Yotsuya Kaidan is a pretty long and twisted story, so in this post I tried to focus primarily on Oiwa herself, with her story being the focus (insomuch as her story revolves around her terrible husband). So the side plots are not included. Maybe one day I’ll have a chance to do a comic version of the whole of Yotsuya Kaidan…

Anyway that’s all I’ll say for now. Her story is pretty tragic so I’ll let it do the talking.

Oiwa

Oiwa

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Okiku

Greetings yokai (and yurei) fans!Tonight I bring you Okiku, an amazing ghost story, and one of the most well known ghost stories in Japan. If you’re a fan of Japanese ghost movies, you can’t help but notice the similarities between this and modern ghost movies like The Ring. The influence of this story lives on strong today. I hope you enjoy it!

I’ll be in the UK for summer vacation for one week starting tomorrow, so there will be a brief pause between this post and the next one. But once I get back I’ll bring you the next ghost story right away! Until then, here is Okiku:

Okiku

Okiku

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Yonaki baba

Greetings yokai fans!

It’s the end of the month, and I bring you the final yokai of this month: yonaki baba. She’s a pretty simple and straightforward yokai, which makes it much easier to translate. 🙂

I was first attracted to this yokai because of the outrageously silly illustration of it as it appears in the Buson youkai emaki (incidentally this scroll also gave us the outrageously silly shirime).

I used that as my model, as I like to stick to the source material as much as possible, but I did try to make her a bit more sad looking. The Buson nakibaba looks so happy, and I wanted to make it a bit more ambiguous as to whether she is mocking or genuinely sad for those she haunts, because the folklore doesn’t agree on whether it’s one or the other.

Anyway, here she is!

Yonaki babā

nakibabaaThis post originally appeared on Patreon.com. You can share in my joy and her sadness by becoming a Patreon supporter. Help support my yokai work for only $1 per month!

Tenjōname

Greeting yokai fans!

Today I present tenjoname, the ceiling licker. I’m pretty sure my house has had a tenjoname in it at some point, because our ceilings are covered in spots. At first we thought they were water stains from a leaky roof, but now… now I’m pretty convinced it was a tenjoname after all. (I’m pretty sure we have a sakabashira as well, so this house is clearly yokai-friendly.)

Tenjōname

tenjoname

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Shumoku Musume

Greetings yokai fans!

Today I present to you shumoku musume, or “hammer girl.”

I fell in love with this yokai the first time I saw her, in one of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s prints. Although there’s no description of her in that print, I really wanted to find out more of that strange, snail-like yokai in the background:

She’s actually quite a minor yokai, and is not the subject of any stories or legends. She appears in obake karuta, however, and that is her main claim to fame. While she doesn’t do much except for maybe jump out and spook people, it’s her unique appearance that makes her so appealing, and I’m sure that’s why she was included in the obake karuta.

What’s not to love about that?

Anyway, here she is:

shumokumusume

Shumoku musume

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