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Japanese Myths, Folktales, Folklore and Language

Episodes

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

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
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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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