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Japanese Myths, Folktales, Folklore and Language


Ship Goddesses, Boat Ghosts, and Sea Monks (Funadama, Funa Yurei, Umi Bozu) (Ep. 20)

The third Monday of July is Umi no Hi (Marine Day), so this month I decided to talk about three otherworldly ocean creatures: Ship Goddesses, Boat Ghosts, and Sea Monks.

#Uncannytober: Oct 1

funa yuurei

The Heavenly Demon (Amanojaku) + Bedtime Story! (Ep. 19)

The amanojaku is a nasty Japanese beastie that predates Buddhism, might have originated from a Shinto deity, who you can usually find getting trampled on by the Four Heavenly Kings at temples all around Japan. It's also used to describe a contrary person.

The God of Smallpox (Housougami) (Ep. 18)

In this episode I talk about the God of Smallpox (housougami). Come listen to the beliefs in this fearsome god and how dogs and the color red kept him at bay.

Granny Dumping Mountain (Ubasuteyama) (Ep. 17)

Back in old Japan when times were tough and there were too many mouths for one family to feed, they might do something called kuchi herashi, or getting rid of mouths by sending your children to live with a wealthier family or hauling grandma or grandpa up into the mountains and leave them to fend for themselves.

Playing Hide and Seek by Yourself (hitori kakurenbo) (Ep. 16)

Hitori kakurenbo (一人隠れん坊) means playing hide and seek by yourself. It sounds silly, but it's actually a super creepy, Japanese urban myth that involves you all alone at night with nothing but a stuffed animal, some red thread, and a knife.
hitori kakurenbo

Inviting a Friend to Die (Rokuyo) (Ep. 15)

The rokuyo or six days is the Japanese calendar that you consult when preparing to engage in various affairs: weddings, funerals, trips, and business dealings to name a few. Some days are good for some things, other days are good for others. Some days are just bad, bad, bad.

Sokushinbutsu: The Corpses of “Living” Buddhas (Ep. 14)

Listen to me talk about this wonderfully surreal thing I found: Living Buddhas (ikibotoke or orsokushinbutsu). The thing is, they're not really alive, at least not anymore. *cue scary music*

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.
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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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