Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yokai Gallery 2

This is a follow on post from Yokai Gallery 1

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This is a Sazaeoni. A sazae is a shellfish known as Turban Snail in English. When a turban snail reaches 30 years of age it turns into a "turban snail ogre", sazaeoni. It can turn itself into a beautiful woman, and, as the story goes, when rescued from the sea by sailors will have sex with all of them but cut off the testicles afterwards.

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Housoushi was a kind of exorcist who used his four eyes to watch over the four directions and dispel invisible "pollution". He seems to be developed from a Chinese shaman/magician. There are still ceremonies held in several Kyoto shrines involving Houssoushi, but he somehow dissapeared or fell out of favor in the ninth century.

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Hyakume, literally "one hundred eyes", is a yokai that protects shrines from thieves. It is said that if you steal from a shrine then one of hyakume's eyes will chase after you until it attaches itself to you. It is possible that this is related to the symbol that was tattooed on convicted thieves.

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Rokurokubi during the daytime look just like normal people, but at night they can stretch their necks to tremendous lengths and seem to delight in scaring people, especially it is said, drunks. There are buddhist versions of Rokurokubi that actually were humans who broke buddhist precepts, and were more bloodthirsty and demonic than other Rokurokubi.

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Dorotabo was a hard-working farmer who died. His son who inherited the land was a bit of a wastrel who rather than work the land sold it off. Whenever the new owner tried to work in the paddies Dorotabo would emerge from the mud screaming "this is my land!!!". Interestingly his one eye maybe connected with ancient fertility rites, literally "the one-eyed trouser snake"!

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Isogashi is the Japanese word for "busy", and is an invisible spirit that possesses people and drives them to busyness. I know a lot of Japanese possessed by this yokai.

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If you've ever been walking down a dark country lane at night and felt as if you are being followed, but turn around and there is no-one there, chances are it is Betobetosan following you. The solution is to say "Betobetosan!... after you!" and he will pass you.

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Looking like a Harry Harryhausen creation, Kanibouzu was a giant crab that hid in a temple and took the form of a buddhist monk. Whenever people visited the temple he would kill and eat them.

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Hyoutoku is a variation of Kyotoko. In the story, a poor old couple meet a beautiful woman in the forest and she gives them a baby boy. They take him home and notice that the little boy is constantly poking his bellybutton until eventually gold starts coming out of it and the old couple become rich.

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