A-Yokai-A-Day: Akateko

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Today I gave another yokai presentation at Shofuso Japanese House and Garden. Tonight, instead of a yokai lecture like last night, I was able to hold a modern-day hyakumonogatari kaidankai, or ghost-story-telling party. I picked a handful of my favorite yokai and ghost stories, and told them as the sun set and night overtook the sky. The 17th century Japanese teahouse was lit by LED tea lights, which were the perfect safe alternative to lighting 100 candles and snuffing them out after each story. Thanks to everyone who came out and helped make the event awesome!

Earlier this week we looked at a tree-yokai called the ninmenju. A few other tree-based yokai have been featured on A-Yokai-A-Day in the past, including jubokko and sagari. Today I’m featuring another tree yokai, one that is slightly creepier than ninmenju.

There’s something special about this yokai that isn’t obvious on first look. Akateko actually successfully straddles the realms of old yokai and contemporary urban legend. While it does have its roots as an old yokai in the Edo period, it still remains popular today as a schoolyard rumor. Not many yokai have that staying power, but akateko does. It think part of it is the simplistic nature of the story. It’s easy to understand, yet avoids specific details that make it feel connected to any particular era.

To read more about this really cool half-old half-modern yokai, click below.