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Japanese Myths, Folktales, Folklore and Language

Episodes

Chindon-ya: Eccentric Street Musicians (Ep. 92)

Who are these eccentric street musicians dressed in bright kimono playing drums, bells, clarinet, and saxophone marching down your street? What do they want?
Chindon-ya Boy

Good Luck Superstitions in Japan (Ep. 91)

It's been a rough couple of years, so today let's talk about some Japanese good luck superstitions.
Snake skin

Mayoiga: The Mysterious House You Find When You’re Lost (Ep. 90)

A mayoiga is a house that magically appears when you're lost in the forest or mountains. If you venture in, what will you find? What should you do?
Mayoiga Folktale

Sakuragaike: A Tortured Snake-Dragon Loses it Scales, Pt 2 (Ep. 89)

Today I'll tell you part 2 of the Sakuragaike Legend (and nanafushigi!). What was waiting at the bottom of the lake? Why was the snake-dragon suffering and how did his old follower help him?

Sakuragaike: A Snake-Dragon Coiled and Waiting, Part 1 (Ep. 88)

The story goes that a large snake-dragon lives at the bottom of Sakuragaike Lake. It's waiting. But where did this snake-dragon come from, and who is it waiting for?
Sakuragaike

Halloween Episode: Kokkuri Spirit Boards and WTF?! (Ep. 87)

Kokkuri or Kokkuri-san is the name for the Japanese ouija or spirit board. It's also the name for the spirit who visits during the game.
Kokkuri-san

Scary Story Time: “Go-Away Monkey” (Ep. 86)

For the spooky month of October, I'm reading my horror short story "Go-Away Monkey" from my collection The Carp-Faced Boy and Other Tales.
Art for Go-Away Monkey short story by Thersa Matsuura

The Most Merciless Yokai: the Korori (Ep. 85)

The obscure and terrifyingly deadly yokai, the korori, ravaged Edo Japan. On today's episode I'll tell you all about it, what it really was and how foreigners were the ones who brought it to Japan.
Korori Yokai

Misemono: Edo Era Freak Shows (Ep. 84)

A misemono is like a carnival, museum, zoo, and freak show all rolled into one. Here you could see exotic animals, buy cure-all medicines, and check out mermaid mummies among many, many other thrills.
Snake Boy from Misemono

Ningyo: The Ugly (and Delicious!) Japanese Mermaid (Ep. 83)

A Japanese mermaid is called a ningyo (人魚) or human fish. Today I'll tell you about their history, the good, the bad, and the delicious!
Japanese mermaid ningyo

Obon Story Time: “At Yaidzu” by Lafcadio Hearn (Ep. 82)

It's Obon and today I want to read to you an essay by Lafcadio Hearn. He wrote it about the town he would stay at during summers, the town I've lived in for 25 plus years. Here he talks not just about the lantern floating ceremony, but also the ocean and ghost and gods and how we humans fit into it all.
Lafcadio Hearn / Koizumi Yakumo

Hitobashira: The Tragic Stories of Human Pillars (Ep. 81)

How do you build a bridge that stands up to storms and floods? Well, you have to appease the nature gods, of course. But how do you do that? Human sacrifice seemed to have worked in the past. Today I'll talk about hitobashira or human pillars. An ancient tradition of insuring strong river banks, fireproof castles, and tunnels that won't collapse.
Hitobashira/Human Pillar
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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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