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Category: Japanese Myths 

The Dangerous Truth about the Jorō Spider (Ep. 150)

The joro spider, a colorful arachnid from Japan, is harmless but tied to folklore about shape-shifting brides who fatally ensnare lovers at waterfalls.
Women in kimono shooting webs from her six spider arms. Baby spiders attached!

Ryomen Sukuna: Awesome Saint or Japan-Destroying Demon? (Ep. 145)

The two-faced, eight-limbed giant named Ryomen Sukuna has been around since very early Japan, still is he a Buddhism-protecting hero or a cursed demon who tried to destroy Japan?

Abe no Seimei & His Mysterious Place Near Me (Ep. 143)

Abe no Seimei was the greatest onmyōji in Japan. While he lived in Kyoto, he visited Shizuoka at some point and performed some magic, giving us another nanafushigi (seven mysterious things).
A disembodied hand begins to draw Abe No Seimei.

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.

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.

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

Dōsojin: Cuddly and Carnal Road Side Statues (Ep. 126)

Dōsojin are "road ancestor deities" from ancient times. They're different than ojizo or rakan statues. So what are they? What do they do? And which prefecture has the wildest festival to celebrate them?
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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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