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Japanese Myths, Folktales, Folklore and Language


On Cucumber Horses They Ride: Obon Part One (Ep. 8)

Obon is the time of year when all the ancestors' spirits make the long haul back to the world of the living to pay a visit. Butsudan altars are decorated to the hilt and families wait expectantly for grandma and grandpa, great grandma and great grandpa (not to mention great, great, great grandma and grandpa) to arrive and hang out.
eggplant and cucumber horses

Senninbari: The Thousand-Stitch Belt (Ep. 7)

The senninbari or one thousand-stitch belt is a magical sash worn by soldiers in World War 2 to ward off enemies bullets and impart super human strength.

Japanese Superstitions Part One (Ep. 6)

Three Japanese superstitions and why: 1) Don't cut your nails at night. 2) Don't whistle at night. 3) Do kill spiders at night...or don't, actually you might not want to. There's a good argument why you should let those night spiders live.
Ukioe cutting toenails

Kishibojin: The Mother of All Devils (Ep. 5)

Kishibojin: an ogress with a penchant for feeding human babies to her own children, but who was able to see the error of her ways and not only repent but reinvent herself as a goddess. That's what I call chutzpah!

Koshin Shinko: The Three Worms in Your Body (Ep. 3)

Koshin Shinko is the belief that you are born with three worms (called sanshi) inside your body, and that these creatures' only purpose is to shorten your life so they can be free again.
koushin shinkou

Hatsuyume: Your First Dream of the New Year (Ep. 2)

Hatsu-yume is the first dream you have in the New Year. In Japan there is a saying: ichi fuji, ni taka, san nasubi, which means the luckiest dream you can have is of Mt. Fuji, the second luckiest thing to see in a dream is a hawk, and the third is an eggplant.

Musha-burui: Trembling Before a Formidable Task (Ep. 1)

Musha-burui is that trembling with excitement, anticipation, and fear one has before engaging in a formidable task. It comes from the idea of a samurai going headlong into battle.
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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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