A-Yokai-A-Day: Hakoiri musume (page 10)

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Page 10 of Hakoiri musume is a strange one because it contains a mini-story that seems to have little to do with the rest of the story. It’s actually a pop culture reference to an event that took place in 1790.

There was a popular legend swirling around Edo that a fisherman named Tsuribune no Seiji encountered a yakubyōgami on his boat on the 24th day of the 5th month. Seiji offered a fish to the spirit as a gift. As a thanks, the yakubyōgami promised that he would not enter Seiji’s home and kill him. It told him to write a note on his door to signify which house was his. Shortly after that, paper charms with the words “Tsuribune no Seiji’s Home” written on them were being sold in shops all over the city. Today’s page is a direct parody of that fad.

It’s not hard to imagine that someone reading this book when it was published in 1791 would have found this part very amusing, even though it hardly makes sense to us today. Think how confusing it might be for people 230 years from now looking at articles from our time, and finding all these references to snapping fingers and killing half the universe, or anagrams like WAP. That’s similar to what we’re looking at here.

The ordinary folk of the world love to exaggerate everything they talk about, so that a needle becomes a stick, and a stick becomes a pillar, and so on. The rumors about how Heiji brought home a mermaid, for some reason, turned into this: “Heiji met a yakubyōgami off the coast of Shinagawa and treated it to one of his fish. As a thank you, the yakubyōgami told Heiji to write ‘Tsuribune no Heiji’s Home’ in his own handwriting on a paper charm and hang it on his front gate. The yakubyōgami promised not to enter that house.”

The story spread far and wide. Throngs of people flocked to Heiji’s home. They begged him to write them charms in his handwriting to hang on their own houses. He tried to explain that it was all a hoax, but nobody believed him.

Neighbors: “Master Heiji, please give me a charm!”

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