A-Yokai-A-Day: How Denzaemon from Amagasaki Met a Bakemono at a Hot Spring

Today’s yōkai is another generic-sounding “bakemono.” It may have been a shapechanged kitsune or tanuki, although they often prefer to play tricks rather than outright kill their victims. It could have been a ghost, although ghosts usually give off a creepier vibe before they do their thing. The fact is that many yōkai simply do not have names, and their victims never know what they are until it is too late—just as we readers will never be able to know what they are. Enjoying yōkai means embracing the ambiguity and accepting that not knowing is part of what makes them so enticing.

How Denzaemon from Amagasaki Met a Bakemono at a Hot Spring

It a placed called Amagasaki in Settsu Province there lived a man named Denzaemon. One day he went to the hot springs at Arima, when a beautiful woman came out of nowhere.

“Please met me join you in the bath,” she said.

Since she was a woman, Denzaemon let her enter the bath.

Then she said to Denzaemon, “Let me clean your back for you.”

The woman scrubbed and scratched Denzaemon’s back so pleasantly that he soon dozed off. Before he knew it, there was not one bit of flesh left on his back. The woman had scratched him all the way down to his bones, and then she disappeared.

Well, even hot springs have bakemono, as the old saying goes.

A dead man lies face down in a hot spring, the flesh flayed from his back and his bones exposed.

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