|Japanese Ghosts (1)|
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It's Halloween time! Like many other western customs (Christmas, Valentine's Day etc.), the Japanese easily adopt it, especially for commercial purposes. There are pumpkins displayed at the stores, and some people wear costumes and go to parties. However, there is no real custom for Halloween in Japan. I never experienced "Trick or Treating" with a cute costume when I was little...
I will tell you about Japanese ghosts, though the Japanese ghost is usually a thing of summer. The Japanese have their own ghosts, and there are a few terms to describe them.
Obake, Bakemono , "transforming thing." "O"
is an honorific prefix and "bake" is a noun form for the verb
"bakeru (to change, to transform)." It can also be used more
generally to refer to anything that is weird or grotesque.
, "transforming thing." "O" is an honorific prefix and "bake" is a noun form for the verb "bakeru (to change, to transform)." It can also be used more generally to refer to anything that is weird or grotesque.
According to Shinto beliefs, all people have a soul called "reikon." When a person dies, the reikon leaves the body and joins the souls of its ancestors. However, when a person dies suddenly by murder, is slain in battle, commits suicide, or when he or she hasn't been given an appropriate funeral, the reikon may become a yuurei to seek revenge. Many yuurei are female ghosts who suffered badly in life from love, jealousy, sorrow, or regret. Male yuurei are less common.
Yuurei usually appear in a white kimono (katabira), which people were buried in the old days, and have no legs. They also wear a white triangular piece of paper or cloth (hitaikakushi) on their forehead. They usually appear between 2 and 3 a.m. Click here to learn the kanji characters for "yuurei."
Here is one of the famous yuurei stories "Bancho sara-yashiki (The Story of Okiku)" in Japanese and English.
Okiku wa Aoyama Tessan no ie
ni, jochuu to shite
hataraite imashita. Aruhi kahou de aru juu-mai no kouka na touki no sara o
katazuketeiru toki, Okiku wa ukkari sono sara no ichi-mai o watte shimaimashita. Okotta Aoyama wa Okiku o
koroshi, sono shitai o furuido ni nagesutemashita. Sonogo maiban Okiku no yuurei ga ido kara
araware, sara o
yukkuri kyuu-mai made kazoeruto, totsuzen hitsuuna susurinaki o hajimeru
no deshita. Sore wa nandomo nandomo kurikaesare, Aoyama o kurushimemashita.
Tsuini Aoyama wa ki ga kurui, Okiku no fukushuu wa hatasareta no deshita.
Okiku works as a maid at the home of the samurai Tessan Aoyama. One day while cleaning a collection of ten precious ceramic plates, which is a family treasure, she accidentally breaks one of them. The outraged Aoyama kills her and throws the corpse into an old well. Every night afterwards, Okiku's ghost rises from the well, slowly counts out nine plates and then breaks into heartrending sobs, over and over and over again, tormenting the samurai. Finally, vengeance is wrought when Aoyama goes insane.
|touki no sara
|vengeance||ki ga kuruu
Whether you believe the story or not, Okiku' s well exists on the ground of the Himeji Castle. Click here to have a look at the infamous well!
Himeji Castle, nicknamed White Heron Castle, is located in Himeji City, about 50 kilometers west of Kobe. It is the best preserved castle in all of Japan and has kept its original form for nearly 400 years. It is reported that the movie "Last Samurai" staring Tom Curse was partly shot there.
More Japanese ghosts are on the next page.
Japanese Ghosts: (1), (2)