Ghosts (yookai, bakemono)


Ghosts (yookai, yuurei, bakemono)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


CLICK for more YUUREI photos
ghost. yuurei 幽霊
bakemono 化け物  o-bake お化け
yookai 妖怪

Ghost Stories kaidanbanashi 怪談話

In summer in Japan it is custom to tell stories about ghosts and gruesome events, so people will get a chill from it to keep cool. :o).

Here in our mountains it is cool anyway, but walking at night beside the family graves, at full moon, you might get some inspiration !

lonely graves
spooking away the ghosts -
summer in Japan

© Gabi Greve, May 2005


. Monster festival (bakemono matsuri 化物祭 )
Tsuruoka Tenmangu Sai 鶴岡天満宮祭
Tsuruoka Tenmangu Festival
kigo for early summer

. . . . .

Bon-Kyogen performed on the 16th of July

. kiraigoo 鬼来迎 (きらいごう)
"Welcoming the Demons"

..... Oni Mai 鬼舞(おにまい)"Demon's Dance"
kigo for late summer


. Hyaku monogatari 百物語
One Hundred Ghost Stories
kigo for late summer

Gruesome ghost stories were told to keep cool on a hot summer night.

In the Northern parts of Europe, where the summers are much cooler, ghost stories are often told in the long winter nights to entertain the children.


Naito Toten (Naitoo Toten) 内藤吐天 (1900 - 1976)

江戸 本所の七不思議 Edo Honojo no Nana Fushigi

The Seven Wonders of Honjo
Zack Davisson
Several of the ghost legends of Honjo were collected together and called the Honjo Nanafushigi (本所七不思議), the Seven Wonders of Honjo. The number seven is purely nominal; as in many places in the world, the number seven carries mystical significance and when you are telling ghost stories the “seven wonders” sounds scarier than the “nine wonders” or “eight wonders.”
source : hyakumonogatari.com

Translated Japanese Ghost Stories and
Tales of the Weird and the Strange


. WKD : Honjo Nana Fushigi 本所七不思議 - Seven Wonders of Honjo .
- and
Edo Nana Fushigi 江戸七不思議The Seven Wonders of Edo 


Here are a few extra pages about my research of
the Japanese ghosts:

Take your time to read them leisurely.

The Hungry Ghosts are part of the Six Realms of Existence, rokudoo 六道 of the Buddhist religion.
Hungry Demons, Hungry Ghosts (gaki)

O-Bake, お化け, Literally means, "transforming thing." Anything that is fearful or super-large or otherwise out of the normal range is called O-Bake.
Japanese Ghosts and Ghost Stories, kaidan 怪談
On Overview of them all !

Oni, Japanese Demons and Art 鬼 と美術

Tanuki, the bewitching badger

Kappa 河童, the water goblin

Oonyuudoo 大入道 O-Nyudo
Monster with a long neck and hanging tongue

Shoki (Shooki  鍾馗 しょうき)The Demon Queller

Fireflies (hotaru) and the souls of the Heike clan

Ueda Akinari 上田秋成 (1734 - 1809)
He is famous for his eerie ghost stories and strange fiction in Japan.


 NUE 鵺 a mythological beast
with the head of a monkey, breast of a badger, scales like a dragon, tail of a serpent and feet like a tiger

Yookai 妖怪 Monsters and Japanese Food

Worldwide use

vampire 吸血鬼 kyuuketsu ki, blood-sucking demon

Vampires have been introduced by the Europeans, in the 19th century.

Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki 100 monsters
Toriyama Sekien
source : commons.wikimedia.org

今昔画図続百鬼 - all his works
source : 収録作品

banpaia isoona yami no hotarugari

a vampire
might be out there in the darkness -
hunting for fireflies

Katsumata Tamiki 勝又民樹



Aswang shape shifter

Things found on the way

Buson's Monster Scroll

Buson Bakemono Emaki, Buson Yōkai Emaki

Start from here to see more of the monsters:
© ship.nime.ac.jp / Buson's Monster Scroll

the wailing old woman / 泣き婆


Japanese art, ghosts and Buddhism:
Botan Doro 牡丹灯篭
The Peony Lantern

The setting of this story is based in Koyasan where the local Buddhist priest was telling the story of Botan Doro (The Peony Lantern). People had been waiting ages because they knew that he could tell ghost stories with passion and the setting was very mysterious.
。。。。。 Ogiwara Shinnojo was a samurai warrior but his heart was full of woe because he was a widower. At night he felt so alone and memories of the past came back to haunt him and it appeared that he would never feel the fluttering heart of love again.

... The Buddhist priest telling the story then said that “Their eyes gazed on Ogiwara because his corpse was entangled with Otsuyu for the last time but it appeared that the final minutes were full of fear judging by the face of Ogiwara.” The priest continued by commenting that “After Ogiwara entered the crypt it shut by itself once he embraced Otsuyu to make love to her but this time she would never let him go. Therefore, the last few minutes of his life were ended in a perverse and panic stricken nature because now he could see the truth but it was too late because the shadow of death swallowed him up.”

Lee Jay Walker
source : moderntokyotimes.com


External LINK

Miraculous Stories from the Japanese Buddhist Tradition

Nihon ryōiki 日本霊異記 Nihon Ryoiki
Wunder­same Bege­ben­heiten aus Japan

um 800

translated by University Vienna
source : www.univie.ac.at


bakesoo na kasa kasu tera no shigure kana

winter drizzle -
at the temple I borrow an old umbrella
looking like a ghost

Yosa Buson
Tr. Gabi Greve

"Umbrella looking like a ghost"
Discussion of this haiku and a famous sweet to go with it!


koboozu no tanuki ni bakuru shigure kana

a young priest
is turning into a badger ...
winter sleet

by a student of Buson
Tr. Gabi Greve

(usually the badger turns in a young priest, but here it is the other way round ...)

CLICK for more tanuki photos

old Santa turns
into a badger ...
winter sunshine

Gabi Greve
in response to Buson and his disciple. May 2008


Kobayashi Issa

CLICK for more MOMONGA photos

yanagi kara momonguwa tote deru ko kana

from the willow
a ghost attacks!
the child

According to Issa zenshû, the child has thrown a coat over his head and is running out from the shadow of the willow, attempting to scare people
(Nagano: Shinano Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1976-79, 6.171).
Momonguwa (momonga 鼯鼠) is another word for the Japanese flying squirrel (musasabi); more generally it refers to a wide-eyed, mouth-open boogieman who frightens children; see Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 1642. Shinji Ogawa suggests that "ghost" is a good translation in context, noting that "the association of a willow tree and a ghost was well established by the time of Issa." The haiku captures a moment of energy and imagination, taking its adult readers back to an earlier time when all the world seemed magical.
A constant theme in Issa's poetry about children seems to be: Live that way again!

yûrei to hito wa miruran susuki-bara

where people
see ghosts...
field of pampas grass

Shinji Ogawa paraphrases, "The people may see the field of pampas grass as ghosts."

Tr. David Lanoue


© 緑陰漫筆 / 江戸俳画紀行 :(磯部勝著)

dokozo de wa baba ni ya naran takerineko

it may become a hag--
the raging cat

Tr. Fumiko Y. Yamamoto

Takebe Socho (Takebe Soochoo 建部巣兆) (1761-1814)

Ghosts and Haiku - Discussion


yuurei no yoku deta niwa yori kanna saku

canna lilies bloom first
in the garden where ghosts
appear often

Goto Takashi (Gotoo Takashi) 五島高資
Medical doctor from Nagasaki
1968 -
source : 五島高資

Related words

***** Bakeneko, the Monster Cat ... 化け猫

***** Halloween, a KIGO

***** . Saijiki of Buddhist Events .

***** Sleet, rain mixed with snow, cold rain, winter drizzle (shigure)  

More about the discussion
Imagination in Haiku

Graveyard warden (onboo 隠坊)

Yookai Hakase 妖怪博士 a professor takes a closer look at monsters:
. Inoue Enryoo 井上 円了 Inoue Enryo .

. Oni 鬼 Demon Amulets .

. Regional Folk Toys from Japan .
Including Monsters and Goblins.



anonymous said...

Japan Times

Ghost scrolls get showing at Fukushima temple

About 60 hanging scrolls from the Edo and Meiji periods depicting Japanese ghosts were shown to the public at Kinshoji Temple in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Saturday.

The exhibition was held on the last day of "bon" summer holidays, which is said to be the day for sending off the spirits of the dead.

Most of the artworks were made between the end of Edo period and the mid-Meiji period. One is a hanging scroll painted by Maruyama Oukyo, a famous painter from Edo period, the temple said.

The temple's late head priest, who believed that ghosts in the paintings also carry spirits, began collecting the hanging scrolls about 30 years ago. He also began to exhibit the temple's collection to the public and let visitors to pray for the souls of the dead each year, the temple said.

Knowing that the temple takes good care of the ghost scrolls, many people donated their own paintings, swelling the temple's collection to 60, it said.

"Ghost paintings usually end up in temples, but it is huge to have a collection of 60," said Nobuo Tsuji, 76, an art history expert.

The Japan Times
(C) All rights reserved

WHC Workshop said...

ghost stories in US America is a year round endeavor, and the genre is a very significant part of USA literary history, both Poe and Washington Irving having written really famous ghost stories, as have many major USA writers since. Ghost Busters, Casper, etc.

more by I.

anonymous said...

Tellin ghost stories ...
I read it as seasonal, too. Summer, school vacation in the US.
Here is a story by Lafadio Hearn to be read at the summer campfire


anonymous said...


Monsters from all of Japan

azuki arai 小豆洗い
and many more


Yokai Illustrations said...

Shigeoka Yokai Zukan

Monstropedia said...


Sangaikyoo said...


Chinese Monster Collection


Toriyama Sekien said...

Toriyama Sekien (鳥山 石燕, 1712 – 1788) was an 18th century scholar and ukiyo-e artist of Japanese folklore. He was the teacher of Utamaro and, before taking up printmaking, a painter of the Kano school. Toriyama is most famous for his attempt to catalogue all species of yōkai in the Hyakki Yakō series.

Hyakkai Zukan said...

Hyakkai Zukan, an illustraded scroll of Monsters


Gabi Greve - Edo said...

iruikon 異類婚 marriage between different kinds

In most stories, a female animal becomes the wife of a human
- irui nyooboo 異類女房.

In other stories, a snake, dragon or other animal becomes the lover of a woman
- irui muko 異類婿.


Gabi Greve said...

boorei to yuurei ketsueki gata chigau

the blood type
of a vengeful spirit and a ghost
are different

Hata Yooko 波多洋子 Hata Yoko

blood types