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Japanese Myths, Folktales, Folklore and Language

Episodes

The Adorably Creepy Tofu Kozo (Ep. 80)

The Tofu Kozo is a seemingly innocent little yokai who appears on rainy days offering a plate of tofu to unsuspecting people. What could possibly go wrong?
Tofu Kozo / Tofu Kozou

Mushi Okuri: Sending Off the Bugs (Ep. 79)

Mushi Okuri is a yearly event, usually taking place sometime in June or July, when the locals get together to ceremoniously expel harmful insects from their fields and pray for a bountiful crop.
Mushi Okuri Sending Away the Bugs

Utsuro-Bune: The Hollow (Space?) Ship (Ep. 78)

Today let's explore the strange legend of utsuro-bune, the hollow ship. Was Japan really visited by UFOs back in the early 1800s? Is there proof?
Utsuro-bune

Story Time: “Kaguya-hime: The Bamboo Cutter and the Moon Princess” (Ep. 77)

Today I'll read to you, "The Bamboo Cutter and the Moon Princess" called Kaguya Hime in Japanese. It's an old tale that some believe talks about otherworldly visitors. Was the Moon Princess an extraterrestrial being? 
The Bamboo Cutter and Kaguya-Hime - Princess Kaguya

Fuujin and Raijin: The Gods of Thunder and Wind (Ep. 76)

Who are Fujin and Raijin  (the Japanese Wind God and Thunder God), where did they come from, and what do they do? Today I'll tell you about they originated in both India and a Japanese Goddesses' decaying body. 
Raijin - The God of Thunder

Story Time: “The Kappa’s Abyss” (Ep. 75)

Today's Story Time on Uncanny Japan is one I found in an old collection of Japanese folklore. It's about a couple of conniving kappa and an innocent young girl. It's called "The Kappa's Abyss."

Jigoku Tayuu: The Mysterious Hell Courtesan (Ep. 74)

The Hell Courtesan (Jigoku Tayuu) is a mysterious figure that appears in art and story in Japan since the 1600s. But who is this beautiful high-ranked oiran who wears a kimono covered in images of hell? Today I'll talk about her legend and relationship with the eccentric monk Ikkyuu.
hell courtesan ikkyu

Adorable Tanuki: Fluffy, Shape-Shifting, and Lucky! (Ep. 72)

Tanuki are those adorable, magical animals you find all through Japanese history. They're in folktales, art, legend, and even in modern day manga and anime. On today's episode I'll talk about these furry, shape-shifting critters, touching on all the well known facts as well as some more obscure ones.

#Uncannytober: Oct 6

Tanuki

Kan-no-mushi: Adorable Parasites Living Inside Your Spine (Ep. 71)

Let me tell you why your toddler might cry at night and throw tantrums. It could be a mythical parasite that lives in their spine. 

Sanzaru: Three Wise Monkeys and How They Can Help Extend Your Life (Ep. 70)

Everyone is familiar with the Three Wise Monkeys or as they're called in Japan Sanzaru (Three Monkeys). But did you know the See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Say No Evil creatures are actually a Japanese play on words? They're also an important part of an old folk belief that has to do with three worms escaping your body and a large deity with six arms and a blue face who vows to protect you.
Three Wise Monkeys: Sanzaru

Cursed Swords That Want to Murder You (Youtou) (Ep. 69)

A Muramasa blade is one of exceptional quality and great bloodlust. It’s called a youtou  (妖刀) in Japanese. Depending on how you translate that, it could mean cursed sword, mystic sword, or demon sword. In this episode I talk about one of the most well known youtou made by Muramasa Sengo.
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi cursed sword
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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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