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Japanese Myths, Folktales, Folklore and Language

Episodes

Dōsojin: Cuddly and Carnal Road Side Statues (Ep. 126)

Dōsojin are "road ancestor deities" from ancient times. They're different than ojizo or rakan statues. So what are they? What do they do? And which prefecture has the wildest festival to celebrate them?
Dosojin

Black-Toothed Yōkai (Ep. 123)

There are several yōkai with black teeth, the Ohagruo Bettari, the Ao Onna, and the Uwan. Is it their practice of ohaguro that makes them scary or something else?

Ohaguro: The Ultimate Beauty Hack of Ancient Japan (Ep. 122)

Discover the origin and practice of ohaguro, the traditional Japanese teeth blackening, dating back to over 1,700 years ago during the Yayoi era.
Kunisada's Woman Blackening Teeth

Doom and Bloom: Cherry Blossom Folk Beliefs (Ep. 121)

Bloom and Gloom or Cherry Blossom Folk Beliefs or Sakura: The Wonderful and the Worrisome Hello there, I’m Thersa Matsuura and you’re listening to Uncanny Japan. What do you know about sakura or cherry blossoms? Let me guess, something like, every year in Japan when spring rears its balmy, bird-chirping, flower-budding head, the trees fill […]
sakura

Akaname: The Thoroughly Gross Scum Licker (Ep. 120)

Hey hey. This is Thersa Matsuura and you’re listening to Uncanny Japan.  A Story about Meeting an Akaname Imagine it’s after dark. You’ve been up since dawn. All by yourself, all day long, you harvested your sweet potato fields before the weather turned bad. Then you dragged the heavy, potato-filled boxes into your kura-earthen storehouse, […]
akaname

The Legend of Shippeitaro (Ep. 119)

Shippei Taro is both a folktale and a nanafushigi (strange occurance). I'll tell you all about this local legend as well as read you my translation of the famous story.
Shippei Taro Figurines
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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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