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Japanese Myths, Folktales, Folklore and Language


Teachers Running (Shiwasu) (Ep. 13)

Come listen to me talk about how we spend December in Japan. There is cleaning, haircuts, paying debts and staying up all night to avoid gray hair.

Goroawase: Tricky Japanese Numbers (Ep. 12)

Japanese numbers can be tricky. Four is thought to invite death. Nine brings suffering and agony. But hey, Eight is good! Learn about goroawase.

The Devil’s Gate (Kimon) (Ep. 11)

You have one. I have one. We all have one: a Devil's Gate. It's the place where oni (Japanese devils) sneak into your home, steal all your good luck and fine health, and scuttle away.

Gaki: Hungry Ghosts (Ep. 10)

Living a life of luxury while being selfish and coveting your neighbors goodies just might lead you to another spin on this Wheel of Life. This means after you die you'll be reborn not as a human again, not even as a squirrel in someone's backyard. You might just come back as a hungry ghost, and let me tell you why that's not a very good thing.

Okuribi: Sending Away Fires (Obon Part Two) (Ep. 9)

Obon: the time when you have to send ol' grandma and grandpa back to the World of the Dead. There are various ways of doing this. I talk about two, the chill, mellow way and the flinging-balls-of-fire-into-the-air way.
Yaizu okuribi

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
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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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