Japan Ghost Stories
Ghosts and spirits hold a place in the folklore of many cultures around the world. In the western world, Halloween, observed on October 31, is a time for scary, spooky tales, while Latin America celebrates the deceased on the following day, November 1 , In A Holiday Called ” Dia De Muertos ” (The Day Of The Dead).
For Japan, however, the haunting season is smack in the middle of August, a time when most people are thinking of summer vacation, the annual high school baseball tournament and an ice cold beverage. August is also when the famous Obon festival is held, an event which underpins much of Japan’s tradition in revering and honoring one’s ancestors.
Most People Outside Japan May Have Had Their First Taste Of Japanese Supernatural Stories With The Overseas Release Of The Smash Hit Horror Movie The Ring , Where The Main Ghost Character Pays Homage To Oiwa, The Original Japanese Apparition Who First Appeared In A Traditional Kabuki Play Almost 200 years ago.
So how did it come to be that August is the time to raise the dead in Japan, and what goes on in the world of the supernatural?
A ghost and goblin for just about every occasion
In the physical world, Japan is known for its crowded commuter trains. Similarly, the country has a pretty packed supernatural plane. Trying to get through the veritable witches’ brew of ethereal inhabitants that make up Japan’s ghost world would take up a lot of space and go way beyond this article, so let’s take a broad look at the main characters:
Similar To Ghosts In Western Folklore, Yurei Are The Spirits Of The Deceased. According To Traditional Japanese Custom, All Humans Have A Soul Called The Reikon . Upon Death, The Reikon Leaves The Body And Enters A Form Of Purgatory Until A Proper Burial And Ceremony can be held so it can go off and join its ancestors. The reikon then becomes the protector of the family for future generations and this is the spirit Japanese people celebrate during the Obon festival in August.
Yokai Are Not Spirits, But Earthly Creatures, More Akin To Goblins In The West. There Are Literally Hundreds Of Yokai Of Almost Every Conceivable Shape And Origin, Ranging From The Nekomata , A Type Of Monster That Takes The Form Of A Cat And Is Often Playing A Portrayed As Shamisen, To yama-Biko , A Small Creature Similar To Echo Of Grecian Mythology, To Hitodama , A Fireball Ghost That Appears When Someone Dies, To Azukiarai , A Yokai Who Is Always Found Washing Azuki Beans.
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