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Japanese Myths, Folktales, Folklore and Language

Episodes

Nami-Kozō: The Creepy Little Wave Boy (Ep. 142)

A nanafushigi (seven mysterious things) and a local yokai, the Nami Kozō or Wave Boy has a number of variations to his story, some involving real historical monks.
Sketch of a Nami Kozo with waves, artist's hand drawing.

The All-powerful Five Elements and You (Ep. 141)

In Japan there are two types of Five Elements, the gogyo and the godai and you can find them all throughout Japanese culture-in tea ceremony, martial arts, acupuncture, herbalism, esoteric Buddhism, and even in cemeteries.
Handwriting calligraphy with black ink on white paper.

Joya no Kane: Purify Yourself With This Episode (Ep. 139)

Joya no Kane is the Buddhism tradition of ringing out the old year and ringing in the new one. Where did it come from and what does it mean?
Artist's hand drawing a serene Japanese landscape with a bell tower and rising sun, symbolizing 'Joya no Kane,' a traditional end-of-year bell-ringing ceremony, on a sketchpad, with watercolors and a brush, against a backdrop of artistic tools.

Shochikubai: Pine, Bamboo, Plum and Samurai Shade (Ep. 138)

Shochikubai means "pine, bamboo, plum" and are considered the three winter friends. You'll find them in New Year decorations as well as another interesting and surprising place. I'll tell more on today's show.
Traditional Japanese shochikubai painting with calligraphy on a sketchpad, featuring plum blossoms, pine, and bamboo, the symbols of perseverance, longevity, and flexibility, alongside an ink stone and brushes, indicating an artistic setting.

A Delightful Dive into Meiji Era Yokai News (Ep. 137)

Today I’m going to do something a little different, again. I’m going to give you some real yōkai and paranormal news. Not current news, but stories that were actually published in newspapers during the late 1800s — and not in tabloids either, but in regular ol’ papers. And they are absolutely delightful to read.
Meiji era yokai news

The Dreaded Northern Pillow (kitamakura) and Fan Death (Ep. 136)

Is sleeping with your head facing north a practice that'll bring you bad luck and invite death or is it good luck, welcoming a restful night's sleep and money?
Reclining Buddha statue with radiant halo, symbolic of peace, resting on a colorful pillow facing north, with an artistic backdrop of mountains, representing the Japanese kitamakura myth

“The Other Side” A Creepy Japanese Ghost Story (Ep. 135)

"The Other Side" is a ghost story I wrote using some of the more common Japanese scary tropes. Put on some headphones and turn out the lights and let me tell you a story.
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About The Uncanny Japan Podcast

Speculative fiction writer, long-term resident of Japan and Bram Stoker Award finalist Thersa Matsuura explores all that is weird from old Japan—strange superstitions, folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures she digs up while doing research for her writing.

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