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Japanese Myths, Folktales, Folklore and Language


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 […]

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, […]

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

How to find and identify your own Yokai (Ep. 118)

Explore the parallel world or ikai, and how it is inhabited not just by ghosts or spirits but also by yokai.

Ushi Oni: The Bloodthirsty Cow Demon (Ep. 117)

There are a lot of legends and stories about the ushi oni, a dreadful yōkai that has the head of an ox and the body of a giant spider, with blades on its feet.
Ushi oni

Six New Year’s No-Nos (Ep. 115)

In old Japan there were six rules, six things you weren't allowed to do on the first three days of the New Year. How do you score on the Six No Nos List?
Ukiyoe image of two men fighting with Mount Fuji and rising sun in background
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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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