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Uncanny Japan - Japanese Folklore, Folktales, Myths and Language

History Podcasts

Speculative fiction writer, long-term resident of Japan and Bram Stoker Award finalist Thersa Matsuura explores all that is weird from Japan—strange superstitions, folklore and folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures she digs up while doing research for her writing. Also check out her Soothing Stories Podcast! Show notes and transcripts are available for most episodes at uncannyjapan.com

Speculative fiction writer, long-term resident of Japan and Bram Stoker Award finalist Thersa Matsuura explores all that is weird from Japan—strange superstitions, folklore and folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures she digs up while doing research for her writing. Also check out her Soothing Stories Podcast! Show notes and transcripts are available for most episodes at uncannyjapan.com

Location:

yaizu, Japan

Description:

Speculative fiction writer, long-term resident of Japan and Bram Stoker Award finalist Thersa Matsuura explores all that is weird from Japan—strange superstitions, folklore and folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures she digs up while doing research for her writing. Also check out her Soothing Stories Podcast! Show notes and transcripts are available for most episodes at uncannyjapan.com

Language:

English


Episodes

Kan no Mushi: Adorable Parasites Living Inside Your Spine (Ep. 71)

2/28/2021
Let me tell you why your toddler might cry at night and throw tantrums and what you can do to remedy. It could be a mythical parasite that lives in their spine. Any you might them, too. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website to read the show notes and transcript. Credits Intro and outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura

Duration:00:17:14

Sanzaru: Three Wise Monkeys and How They Can Help Extend Your Life (Ep. 70)

2/15/2021
Everyone is familiar with the Three Wise Monkeys or as they're called in Japan Sanzaru (Three Monkeys). But did you know the See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Say No Evil creatures are actually a Japanese play on words? They're also an important part of an old folk belief that has to do with three worms escaping your body and a large deity with six arms and a blue face who vows to protect you. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website for the show notes and...

Duration:00:18:35

Cursed Swords That Want to Murder You (Youtou) (Ep. 69)

1/31/2021
A Muramasa blade is one of exceptional quality and great bloodlust. It's called a youtou (妖刀) in Japanese. Depending on how you translate that, it could mean cursed sword, mystic sword, or demon sword. In this episode I talk about one of the most well known youtou made by Muramasa Sengo. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website for the show notes and transcript. Credits Intro and outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura Dreamsphere 1 by Sascha Ende Link:...

Duration:00:17:04

Enjoying the Luck of the Seven Lucky Gods (Shichifukujin) (Ep. 68)

1/14/2021
In Japan the Shichifukujin or Seven Lucky Gods appear in a boat on the first day of the year to impart various kinds of luck on those they deem worthy. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website to read the show notes and transcript. Credits Intro and outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura Uncanny Japan is author Thersa Matsuura. Her other show is The Soothing Stories Podcast. Check out her books including The Carp-Faced Boy on Amazon. If you'd like to help support...

Duration:00:15:03

Year of the Ox: Save Us All (Ep. 67)

12/30/2020
The year 2021 is the Year of the Ox according to the animal zodiac. But what does that mean? On today's show I'll talk a little about the character of people born in this year, what to expect in 2021, and why the ox -- who should have been the first animal in the zodiac lineup -- got beaten by a rat. I also have a super special announcement. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website to read the show notes and transcript. Credits Intro and outro music by Julyan...

Duration:00:13:02

Toshikoshi Soba: Breaking Off the Pain of 2020 with Noodles (Ep. 66)

12/16/2020
Toshikoshi soba is the Japanese tradition of eating soba noodles on New Year's Eve. It's a custom that has continued since the 1700s. There are quite a few reasons why. Some have to do with long life, wealth, and breaking off all the hardships from the previous year. In this episode of Uncanny Japan I'll talk about the history, the different names it goes by, and how you, too, can participate in this delicious tradition. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website...

Duration:00:18:13

Baku: The Eater of Dreams (Ep. 65)

11/29/2020
The baku (獏) is a Japanese mythical creature that, when invited, slips into your room at night to gobble up your nightmares. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website to read the show notes and transcript. Credits Intro and outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura Diving In The Oceans Of Kepler by MusicLFiles Link: https://filmmusic.io/song/7062-diving-in-the-oceans-of-kepler License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Duration:00:12:40

Story Time: "The Dream of Akinosuke" by Lafcadio Hearn (Ep. 64)

11/15/2020
"The Dream of Akinosuke" is Lafcadio Hearn's translation of a sweet Japanese (originally Chinese) folktale. In it you'll learn how insects can manipulate a person's soul. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website to read the show notes and transcript. Credits Intro and outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura

Duration:00:21:38

Shinrei Supotto: Freaky Haunted Areas in Japan (Ep. 63)

10/31/2020
Let's visit some local haunted areas or shinrei supotto in Japanese. The Suicide Forest, a very haunted tunnel, and a Severed Head Grave are all in today's show. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website to read the show notes and transcript. Credits Intro and outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura

Duration:00:21:48

Yuurei: Japanese Ghosts from Protective to Wrathful (Ep. 62)

10/14/2020
Yuurei are Japanese ghosts and they come in quite a few varieties, from the protecting shugorei to the vengeful and very dangerous onryou. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website to read the show notes and transcript. Credits Intro and outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura

Duration:00:23:00

Oiran: The Glamorous and Wretched Life of a High Courtesan (Ep. 61)

9/30/2020
An oiran is not a geisha. Although at first glance they may look alike, one is a more reserved entertainer who is still in existence today. The other is a high courtesan, long disappeared, who wore flamboyant brightly-colored kimono and walked on 20 centimeter high geta. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website to read the show notes and transcript. Credits Intro and outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura

Duration:00:15:57

Kanreki: Your Auspicious Years, Yakudoushi: Your Calamitous Ones (Ep. 60)

9/15/2020
Kanreki is the celebration of a 60th birthday. They’ll don a red vest, called a chanchanko, a red billowy hat, called an e-boshi and be given a white fan to hold. Yakudoshi are the ages you're believed to be more susceptible to sickness, misfortune or some other disaster. Show Notes and Transcript Available Visit the Uncanny Japan website to read the show notes and transcript. Credits Intro and outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura Traveling Through The Wonderful Universe by...

Duration:00:16:10

Koumare Ishi: Inexplicable Rocks That Predict the Deaths of Monks (Ep. 59)

9/1/2020
Koumare Ishi is one of the nanafushigi or seven mysterious occurrences from my area. The belief is that a rock is born from the side of the mountain, and when it falls the head abbot of the nearby temple, Daitoku, dies. It's been going on for hundreds of years, and even today there is a perfectly round stone poking halfway from the mountain. Below are some of the past koumare ishi. They are used as the gravestones for past head abbots at the temple. Below is a photo of the river today....

Duration:00:15:21

Bon Odori: Dancing with the Dead (Ep. 58)

8/16/2020
Bon Odori or Bon Dancing is a summer tradition held all over Japan. It's a chance for families to get together and have an enjoyable time dancing to the rhythmical music. Seeing as how the Obon season is also when ancestors visit from beyond the grave, they, too, can take part in the festivities if they wish. You can also find me on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/UncannyJapan Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uncannyjapan/ Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/thersamatsuura Instagram:...

Duration:00:20:13

Story Time - The Jellyfish Takes a Journey (plus eel and seppuku!) (Ep. 57)

7/29/2020
Ever wonder why a jellyfish looks the way they do? Well, the Japanese folktale "The Jellyfish Takes a Journey" (Kurage no Honenashi) tells you how that came about. Then after that folktale, I'll give you a little trivia about the connection between eel and seppuku. You can also find me on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/UncannyJapan Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uncannyjapan/ Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/thersamatsuura Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uncannyjapan/ YouTube:...

Duration:00:17:31

Food Superstitions and Sayings (Ep. 56)

7/17/2020
Why shouldn't you eat crab and watermelon together? What will happen if you don't eat all the rice in your bowl? Today I'll answer these and a whole lot more. Japanese food superstitions and sayings are quite interesting and sometimes funny. You can also find me on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/UncannyJapan Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uncannyjapan/ Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/thersamatsuura Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uncannyjapan/ YouTube:...

Duration:00:22:20

Star-Crossed Lovers (Tanabata) (Ep.55)

6/30/2020
Tanabata is a Japanese festival based on the bizarre tale of two star-crossed lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi. In episode 55, I'll tell you their story, explain a little about the origins and how it's celebrated today. Listen to the very end! Music thanks to: Celestial Background by TwisteriumMusic Link: https://soundcloud.com/twisterium/celestial-background-besplatnaya-fonovaya-muzyka License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ The Waltz Of The Kindness by...

Duration:00:15:56

Yokai-Related Sayings (Becoming a Tengu) (Ep. 54)

6/18/2020
You can also find me on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/UncannyJapan Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uncannyjapan/ Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/thersamatsuura Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uncannyjapan/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqAtoUS51HDi2d96_aLv95w Website: https://www.uncannyjapan.com/ Intro/Outro by Julyan Ray Matsuura. Here and here. And here. This episode is supported by Sonnet. Summer Ambient Piano by Rafael Krux Link:...

Duration:00:15:38

Creepy Children's Song (Kagome Kagome) (Ep. 53)

5/28/2020
In Japan "Kagome Kagome" is an old children's game and the song that goes along with it. It's interesting because the mysterious lyrics have several different interpretations and most of them are pretty grim. So listen to episode 53 of Uncanny Japan where I talk about this creepy song and several of the theories behind those odd lyrics. You can also find me on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/UncannyJapan Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uncannyjapan/ Patreon:...

Duration:00:16:51

Putting a Curse on Your Enemies (Ushi no Koku Mairi) (Ep. 52)

5/16/2020
Ushi no Koku Mairi means visiting a shrine at the hour of the ox (between 1:00 and 3:00 am). It also means going there so you can put a curse on your enemy. Deriving from the legend of Hashi Hime (The Bridge Princess) and the Noh play Kanawa (The Iron Crown), this peculiar and frightening way of cursing those who have wronged you is definitely next level. Although, ushi no koku mairi is not easy to do. You'll need a straw doll, hammer, long nails, white kimono, geta shoes, and an iron...

Duration:00:16:18