A-Yokai-A-Day: The Old Tanuki Disguised as a Samurai’s Wife

Tonight’s story features a tanuki, a yokai that is beloved by almost everyone. I have to wonder what the tanuki was thinking when it decided to do what it did… Maybe it saw how sad the samurai was and thought if it did something to cheer him up, it might get some food. Of course, as you can see by the illustration, even good intentions often end up in disaster when yokai and humans are involved.

The Old Tanuki Disguised as a Samurai’s Wife

In Bishū, there was a samurai with an income of 2000 koku who lost his beloved wife, and every night he thought only of her. One night, when he put out his lamp to go to sleep, his dead wife came to his bedchamber, looking as beautifully dressed as ever, and nostalgically pulled back the bedsheets to climb inside.

The samurai was startled and asked, “Have the dead come back to visit me?” He took his wife, pulled her to him, and stabbed her with his sword. She vanished into thin air. His retainers rushed into the room, lit lamps, and searched everywhere, but found nothing.

When dawn broke, they looked again, and there was some blood on the door hinge. They followed the mysterious blood trail to a hole beneath some bushes in the northwest corner of the estate. When they dug up the hole, they discovered an old tanuki, dead from a sword wound.

an old tanuki lies dead at the end of a blood trail, with a stab wound

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