7 Types of Yokai - Japan’s Snow Monsters

From hyakumonogatari.com:
In the frozen north of the Japan, the snow piles deep and high and brings monsters. Whether riding on the avalanche, or coming in the guise of a beautiful young woman or a little lost boy, or hoping on one leg, Japan’s snow yokai are as varied and miraculous as any in folklore. Some are dangerous. Some are famous. Some are sad. Some are spectacular.

Japan’s snow monsters are like the snow itself; they bring comfort, solace, and beauty, but only for awhile. For spring comes, and snow melts, and all things must pass—good or bad.

Click Each Title to Read the Full Story of Each Yokai.

7. Yuki Jiji – The Old Man of the Snow

An old man who rides the avalanche, or an ancient God of Snow? The Yuki Jiji is a mysterious, powerful figure in Japanese folklore.

6. Yuki Onba and Yukinko – The Snow Mother and the Snow Child
Anytime a solitary woman approaches you and asks you to hold her baby for a few seconds, you are in trouble. This wintery variation on the Ubume legend delivers its own chills.

5. Yuki Warashi / Yukinbo – The Snow Babies
One is cute and sweet—the answer to a childless couples prayers—and the other is a bizarre creature out of your nightmares.

4. Yukinba/Yukifuriba – The Snow Hags
Nothing ambiguous here. The Yukinba and Yukifuriba are terrifying creatures out for blood. The most horrifying of Japan’s snow yokai.

3. Tsurara Onna – The Icicle Woman
Does she come to love you, or eat you? The Tsurara Onna goes both ways, and you are never sure just which one is going to come to your door.

2. Oshiroi Baba – The Face Powder Hag
Another oddity of Japanese folklore—is the Oshiroi Baba a dangerous snow hag, or some long-forgotten Goddess of Cosmetics?

1. Yuki Onna – The Snow Woman
By far the most famous of Japan’s snow monsters, the Yuki Onna is an enigma. There are thousands of stories about her, with thousands of variations. Which one is true?

Read the original article: 7 Types of Yokai - Japan’s Snow Monsters

Happy 92nd Birthday to Shigeru Mizuki!!!

Exert from Hyakumonogatari.com:

Shigeru Mizuki is 92 years old today. (A day early, I know. But March 8th falls a day earlier in Japan.) On his last birthday, he was already hailed as the world’s oldest working comic book artist. He still holds that title—just another year older.

And yes, I do mean “working” comic book artist. Last year in December he announced his new comic, Watashi no Hibi (My Everyday). He also launched a new book this February touting his love of life and hamburgers and junk food called If You Go Ahead and Eat, You’ll Be Happy – The Daily Life of the Mizuki Brothers. In a recent interview, when asked if he had any doubts about taking on new work at his advanced age, Mizuki thought about it for only a brief second and replied:

“That’s something I really can’t understand. Why doubt yourself? It feels so much better to be proud—to have confidence.

I’m 91 years old, but I’m not finished yet. I’m still bursting with dreams.”

That’s beautiful.

There is no word I can think of that encapsulates Japan feels about Shigeru Mizuki other than “beloved.” He is, to the country, a sort of living Buddha; an embodiment of joy and happiness and imagination. In 2010 he was officially recognized by the Japanese government as a Person of Cultural Merit. In 2012, a TV show called Gegege no Nyobo portrayed the romantic story of how he met his wife through an arranged marriage and how they fell in love anyways.

Like Osamu Tezuka and Hayao Miyazaki, he is one of those rare individuals who shapes the fantasy dreams of an entire country. (I might even say that while Tezuka shaped Japan’s dreams of the future, Mizuki shapes its dreams of the past. And Miyazaki its present.) The only conceivable American equivalent I could conceive of might be Walt Disney when he was a living man and not a corporation. Or JRR Tolkien, if he were less academic. Or Willy Wonka if he were real.

“Come with me and you’ll see, a world of pure imagination …”

For more on the life and achievements of Shigeru Mizuki, read the full article: Happy 92nd Birthday Shigeru Mizuki!!!

The Manekute no Yurei

Exert from Hyakumonogatri.com:

Late at night, when you have to get up to go to the bathroom, a mysterious hand beckons you from a wall. That’s strange enough, but when you go into the room the hand was inviting you to, no one is there. Most likely, you have encountered the yurei of someone who died in that room long ago—they want something, but have only the strength to manifest a single hand to plead with you.

These kinds of stories are typical in Japan, especially in yurei in houses. Generally, they want nothing more than for someone to acknowledge their presence, and read a sutra in their honor at the local temple. Manekute no Yurei tend to gather around houses near temples, or the particularly pious, those who they feel will be able to perform the desired ceremony.They are spooky, but amongst the least dangerous of the types of yurei.

[…]

The Manekunote Yurei (招く手の幽霊; meaning招く手 (manekute; inviting hand) +幽霊 (yurei) is one of those ghosts where there was probably a story or two about it, and Mizuki Shigeru made up a name the phenomenon to include in his yokai encyclopedia. I haven’t found any other reference to the Manekunote Yurei, except for those that specifically site Mizuki as a source. However, like many of his stories the Manekunote Yurei has escaped Mizuki’s pages and into the popular imagination.

Read the full article: Manekute no Yurei - The Inviting Hand

Zack Davisson- the man behind Hyakumonogatari.com, one of the best sources for Japanese folklore on the Net- has written a book on Japanese ghosts that is ready for preorder! You should preorder it! Here’s a bunch of reasons to preorder it!

From Hyakumonogatari.com:

I am proud to announce that my book Yūrei: The Japanese Ghost is finally available for preorder! This book is the culmination of more than ten years of research, including work done for my MA thesis for the University of Sheffield. It is a deep dive into the history, folklore, religion, and culture behind Japanese ghosts—yūrei.

In other words, if you have ever wondered about the pale girl in the white kimono with the long black hair, dripping water—this will give you all the answers.

Click to preorder Yurei: The Japanese Ghost

What’s it about?

Unsurprisingly,

Yūrei: The Japanese Ghost is about everything to do with yūrei. The book begins with Maruyama Ōkyo and his famous painting, The Ghost of Oyuki. Then we dive into the Edo period kaidan boom that set the stage for Ōkyo’s painting, and examine the influence of kabuki on yūrei and why they look the way they do. Next Lafcadio Hearn takes the stage with his Rule of the Dead, and we take a tour of the Japanese afterlife and the World Over There. We learn why Heian period Japanese aristocrats worried so much about their final thought, and hired zenchishiki to mid-wife them to death. Next we meet the San O-Yūrei—the Three Great Yūrei of Japan; Oiwa, Otsuyu, and Okiku. Then it is Obon, Japan’s festival of the dead, and finally we meet the warrior ghosts of Japan in noh theater and hear some Tales of Moonlight and Rain. I modeled the book after Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, telling the stories of the people and history behind the various yūrei legends as well as the yūrei themselves. We will meet the painter Maruyama Ōkyo, the kabuki playwright Tsuruya Nanboku IV, the Confucian scholar Hayashi Razan who invented the word kaidan, and the Buddhist priest Asai Ryōi who wrote one of the most famous Japanese ghost stories of all time, Botan Dōrō, called The Tale of the Peony Lantern. The book intertwines these stories with the story of the yūrei, showing how the concepts developed over time and how Japan changed to encompass new beliefs in the supernatural.

Are there Japanese ghost stories in Yūrei: The Japanese Ghost?

Of course! Although that is not the main focus. I like to say it is a book about Japanese ghost stories not a book of Japanese ghost stories. So this is far more than just a collection of tales. But you will get lots of my translations in here.

Are there pictures in Yūrei: The Japanese Ghost?

Absolutely! We are still working on the details for this, but I plan to pack the book with as many yūrei-e as I can!

Will the book look cool?

Oh yes! The book itself is going to be amazing. My publisher, Chin Music Press, specializes in making cool physical books. They believe the best way to compete in the modern digital market is the make the physical book stand on its own as a piece of book art. Clothbound with an embossed cover— Yūrei: The Japanese Ghost is going to look tremendous on your book shelf.

Please Preorder!!!

And now my pitch! If you are planning to buy my book at all I encourage you to preorder it. You’ll never have a better price on the book than right now, and you will have several months to save the $15 before you actually have to pay! Plus you will be doing me a huge favor.

In the modern publishing world, preorders are king. The amount of preorders indicates interest to publishers and retailers. Retailers use preorder numbers to determine how much they will order and market the book. The publisher uses retailer orders to determine how large the print run will be.

This is especially true of a first-time author such as myself. I’ve been translating and writing for free here on hyakumonogatari.com for more than six years. If you have been enjoying reading the site I would appreciate your support for my book! And I know you will love it!

Click to preorder Yurei: The Japanese Ghost

See the original article: Yūrei: The Japanese Ghost

Mizuki Shigeru on Nezumi Otoko

Exert from Hyakumonogatari.com:

In any interview, whenever he is asked about his favorite yokai, Mizuki Shigeru is quick to answer “Nezumi Otoko.” He likes the rest of the Kitaro family about the same, but Nezumi Otoko is his favorite child. Mizuki explains “Kitaro is actually kind of dumb. He’s like Superman, giving everything he has to random strangers without hope of reward or happiness. That’s boring. If I don’t put Nezumi Otoko in there to mess things up a bit, I don’t have a story. “

Mizuki further says that his original goal with Kitaro was social commentary and satire. It was at the publisher’s request that he change his stories to focus on Kitaro as a Hero, using his supernatural powers to defeat monsters. Nezumi Otoko is the only character that embodies Mizuki’s original intentions for the comic.

Mizuki says his own life philosophy is much closer to Nezumi Otoko’s—he values money, luxury, and happiness and would never give it away for free like Kitaro does. Sometimes he uses Nezumi Otoko to voice his own opinions in a way he can’t with Kitaro. Life was exceptionally hard for Mizuki until he found his success as a comic artist, and those feelings of hunger, of failure, of grasping for success that continually eludes you, are embodied in Nezumi Otoko.

When Mizuki Shigeru wrote his own autobiography and history comic, Showa: A History of Japan, he used Nezumi Otoko as his narrator and mouthpiece.

Read the full article: Nezumi Otoko - Rat man

Buy the first volume of Showa: a History of Japan on Amazon.

Preorder the second volume of Showa: a History of Japan on Amazon.

Konnyaku no Yurei

Exert from Hyakumonogatari.com:

Translated and Sourced from Mizuki Shigeru’s Mujyara, Legends of Tenri, and Other Sources

This peculiar story comes from Tenri city, in Nara prefecture. In the span separating Kabata ward from Inaba ward, there is a stone bridge nicknamed the Konnyaku Bridge. This is why.

Long ago, a rice dealer named Magobei was making his way across the city at night when he went to cross the stone bridge. Before he could cross, a female yurei appeared on the center of the bridge, with a large piece of konnyaku hanging from her mouth. Terrified, Magobei dropped to his knees and began chanting the name of the Amida Buddha over and over again. When he reached the 99th repetition of the Buddha’s name, the bizarre konnyaku yurei disappeared. With the way cleared, Magobei ran home as fast as his legs could carry him.

He later heard that there had been a married couple in town who had quarreled over a piece of konnyaku, and that somehow lead to the wife’s death. The details were unclear, nor did anyone know exactly what the woman wanted. It is said that she appeared from time to time on that bridge, always with the same chunk of konnyaku dangling from her mouth. And that stone bridge has been known as the Konnyaku Bridge ever since.

[…]

There are actually several Konnyaku Bridges across Japan. Some have legends attached to them, like the Konnyaku Ghost of Tenri, but most likely these legends came long after the name. Traditionally, Konnyaku Bridges were low water wooden crossing bridges that tended to wobble and shake like the eponymous konnyaku. The sturdy stone bridge in Tenri being called a “Konnyaku Bridge” is odd enough for someone to create a ghost story about.

They are fairly unsafe, and most of these have been replaced by modern bridges although they retain their names. Like many vanished parts of Japan, those wobbly Konnyaku Bridges are nostalgic enough for a sappy pop song to be written about them.

If you aren’t familiar with it, konnyaku is a unique Japanese food that is almost impossible to describe. The dictionary calls it “solidified jelly made from the rhizome of Devil’s Tongue.” It usually comes in a squishy block of …. yeah, OK. “Solidified jelly” is about the best term there is. So a block of “solidified jelly” that is sliced and added to salads, or boiled and added to soups like nabe and oden, or put on a stick and grilled. I made konnyaku once, and it is a process as bizarre as the food sounds. It makes you wonder who on Earth saw the nasty, starchy root called Devil’s Tongue and figured that it you pounded it and boiled it enough you could render it into something edible.

[…]

Oh …. And although it doesn’t relate to this story, konnyaku is known to be a killer. Because of its solidified jelly status it can literally be hard to swallow. Konnyaku has been known to get stuck in the throats and suffocate those whose throat muscles aren’t strong enough to move it down—mainly small children and the elderly. With the konnyaku hanging out of this yurei’s mouth, it makes you wonder if her husband didn’t kill her by shoving a piece down her throat. Not a pleasant way to die.

Read the full article: Konnyaku no Yurei - The Konnyaku Ghost of Tenri

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