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October 17, 2017

The Devil’s Gate (Kimon) (Ep. 11)

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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. It’s the place you have to be very careful about and treat with respect. The problem is, most of us have no idea where our Devil’s Gate (kimon) is, much less what to do to appease and/or keep out those pesky devils.

Walk with me in the pouring rain and listen to this month’s podcast. It’s all about your devil’s gate, where to find it, and what might be done to protect yourself and your family from those intrusive luck-nabbing oni.

A hanging talisman to ward off devils and ogres and oni. Hell, yeah!

This incident I talk about in the podcast (the moving and my mother-in-law) was the impetus for my short story “My Devil’s Gate” that was published in my first collection: A Robe of Feathers and Other Stories.


The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (“Yi Gui” from Ting Shuo).  The whole album is just gorgeous as it everything else by FM3.

11 comments on “The Devil’s Gate (Kimon) (Ep. 11)”

    1. Thank you~. I’m already thinking about the next podcast. I’m trying to decide between four different topics, but it’s also getting toward the end of the year which makes me think about a dozen other things I want to talk about. #decisions

  1. Very interesting podcast about Devil’s gates. As a rational Londoner you think it’s pure superstition actually from China, Feng Shui. The Japanese imported their writing system and superstitions wholesale from China and no thought seems to have gone into changing either. As an architect some trad clients are still superstitious and call in a Shinto priest if the site is particularly N.E. but usually it is of no concern. But you might notice that the NE section of some large European cities are the poorest, ex industrial areas. Just a thought. Thanks for the podcast.

    1. Graham, you’re so correct. I think the first several podcasts I kept starting with: “This is originally from China.” I don’t think I said it this last time. But, yes, so much just came over from China and pretty much stayed the same. Japanese for “feng shui” is “fusui”, but they also have something (I believe) is distinctly Japanese (although very similar to “feng shui/fusui”) called “kaso” (家祖). It seems to deal more with houses. There’s a lot of overlap. What you said about the N.E. direction in some European cities is absolutely fascinating. I never thought about looking in other countries, but I should. It makes since that superstitions would immigrate with a people. Thank you so much for listening.

  2. Please could you write Devil’s Gate in Japanese?
    I looked it up but only came out with this
    which would translate as Akuma no mon
    and not Kimon…
    What would you say are the differences between Akuma and Oni?
    Thank you for the beautiful inspiration you give me!

    1. Sonia, thank you for the kind words and your comment. Originally I intended to add more Japanese kanji for people who wanted to look things up or study further. I will start doing this again. I’m so happy that you’re interested.

      Kimon is 鬼門 in Japanese. It’s all very tricky, the translations. You’re correct, “akuma-悪魔” is more like the western version of devil. “Oni-鬼” is often translated as ogre, but because there are different types of oni and there are a variety that live in hell and punish and torture people, to me they really are a kind of Japanese devil, so I used that instead of ogre or demon (which also has a certain image to me that’s different than oni). There are so many words that are concepts really and difficult to convey with just a simple translation. I try to clear them up in the podcast. Thank you for reaching out and asking.

      1. The Chinese characters used to write “kimon” would be pronounced “gui men” in Mandarin. In Chinese this would literally be translated as “ghost” (the first character) and “gate” (the second character). It seems like the names of the Chinese characters created the Japanese word.

        I love listening to your podcast.

        1. Ann, thank you so much for leaving a comment. I studied Chinese for quite a few years in high school and university, but have forgotten almost all of it. I do remember ‘men’ for gate, but didn’t know ‘gui’. You are absolutely right. So many of the things I research have their roots in Chinese myth, legend, and culture. If I had more time, I’d love to really dig deep and compare the differences, how these beliefs and traditions began in China and then how they changed after coming to Japan. Thank you for listening to the show!

  3. I was sitting on my porch(under the influence of plant medicine)with my friend and we both noticed a face in a tree….(a demonic face)me curious to find out why…so I went back to my notes on the 8 direction and I retrieved the information about the north east direction and came to find out that the north east direction was the gate of misfortune…but before that i just started to gaze at the tree which slowly became a whole demon infused into the tree that was facing the north east direction…i also felt a cool wind coming from that direction…so after hearing your testimony…I’m definitely convinced that you know what you are talking about and you also helped me with this confirmation…thank you…from the soul 🙏🏾

    1. Oh, Lloyd, I love this. And kudos for remaining calm because last time I was in the States and under the influence of plant medicine, I was sitting in a friend’s back yard listening to the sounds of the forest and became convinced monsters were in there breaking things and preparing to come after me. Very cool that these old beliefs held true for you, too. 👍

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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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