Cristy Burne


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Yokai featured in Monster Matsuri

Watch out adventure lovers! Takeshita Demons 3, Monster Matsuri, is out!!

I’ve blogged before on yokai demons featured in book one  and book two of the Takeshita Demons series, so…who should we look out for in Monster Matsuri?

Yokai featured in Takeshita Demons: Monster Matsuri

Akaname (Filth Licker) 垢嘗
Great news: if you don’t clean your bathroom, the akaname will. He has frog-like skin, a long hairy tongue, and a fondness for slime, mould and rot. He likes to lick grimy bathrooms until they sparkle.

Ama-no-jyaku  (Demon of Heaven) 天邪鬼
This tiny ogre loves confusion and hate, and he’ll go out of his way to create it.  He can read your deepest desires and will twist his words to lead you in the opposite direction to that which you desire.

Boroboro-ton (Battered futon) 暮露々々団
Remember that old quilt you’ve had for years and never washed? Well, by now it could be haunted. If it shuffles around the room by itself, watch out: the only cure is a good wash and full sun to dry.

Harionago (Barbed woman) 針女子
She’s beautiful and she loves to laugh, but her hair has a mind of its own. Each strand is tipped with a deadly barb and can reach through the air to capture its prey.

Hitodama (Human souls) 人魂
When a person dies, their spirit can soar to the sky in the form of a fireball. Eventually, when the fireball falls back to earth, it splatters everything in slime. The fireballs can be orange or blue or white and often appear just before a sick person dies.

Kara-kasa (Paper umbrella) 唐傘
Make sure you are kind to your umbrella! If you’re not, it could turn into a kara-kasa and hop around your house all day on its hairy leg. Umbrellas love to blow raspberries.

Kitsune (Fox) 狐
Young kitsune look like ordinary foxes, but the older they are, the more tails they grow, and the more powerful they become. When they have lived for a hundred years, they can change shape, even into human form. White foxes are linked to Inari, the god of rice. The fox’s favourite food is fried tofu.

Mokumokuren (Connected eyes) 目々連
Even walls can have eyes! Battered Japanese shōji (paper sliding walls) can be haunted by dozens of eyeballs. Don’t stare at them for too long: you can go blind.

Nukekubi (Cut-throat) 抜首
During the day you might mistake this yōkai for a normal person, but be warned. At night, while its body is sleeping, its head can detach and fly around hunting for delicious things to eat (like children and puppy dogs).

Nurarihyon (Slippery strange) ぬらりひょん
He’s bald, he likes to drink tea, and his head is enormous. Said to be the Leader of all yōkai, Nurarihyon can summon shockwaves of power with a flick of his fingers.

Nurikabe (Plastered wall) ぬりかべ
An invisible wall that blocks the path of those who approach it. If you try to walk around it, you’ll be walking a long time: the wall can extend forever.

Tsukumogami (Lost thing) 付喪神
Ever do a big clean and toss out all the things you no longer want? Beware! In a hundred years, they might spring up to seek their revenge. Tools, clothing, weapons, furniture…You name it, they can become tsukumogami.

Sagari (Hanging horse-head) 下がり
With sharp teeth and bloodshot eyes, this bizarre yōkai is a horse’s head that hangs upside-down like a bat. Usually found in trees, sagari love to drop on you unexpectedly.

Satori (Mind reader) 覚
He looks like a monkey, he smells like a monkey, and he eats like a monkey. But he can also read your thoughts.

Uwan (Disembodied voice) うわん
Usually nothing more than a sound, the uwan can be heard from inside an old building, but not from outside.

Yuki-onna (Snow Woman) 雪女
Tall, pale and icily beautiful, this yōkai is a spirit of the snow. She leaves no footprints, preferring to float above the ground, and she can disappear in a puff of cold mist.

Zashiki-warashi (House ghost) 座敷童
This mischievous yōkai haunts houses and usually appears in the shape of a child. If your house is haunted by a zashiki-warashi, count yourself lucky, but don’t forget to take good care of it. If your house ghost ever chooses to leave you, your luck will quickly end.

Do you have a favourite yōkai? If so, let me know…

Cheers and scary reading!

 


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Yokai featured in The Filth Licker

Cover for Takeshita Demons: The Filth LickerWoo hoo! Book three, Monster Matsuri, is out!!

Which reminds me…I’ve blogged before on yokai demons featured in book one of the Takeshita Demons series, but what about the others?

Let’s start with book two

With a name like The Filth Licker, you’ve got to expect at least one akaname to make an appearance. (And you’d be right! :-))

But who else is there?

Yokai featured in Takeshita Demons: The Filth Licker

Akaname (Filth Licker) 垢嘗
Great news: if you don’t clean your bathroom, the akaname will. He has frog-like skin, a long hairy tongue, and a fondness for slime, mould and rot. He likes to lick grimy bathrooms until they sparkle.

Ashi-magari (Leg turner) 足曲がり
The ashi-magari is a mischievous spirit that comes out at night to trip you up and slow you down. You might feel it winding around your ankles, or tugging at your legs, like the tail of an invisible animal.

Betobeto-san (Mr Footsteps) べとべとさん
Ever had the feeling that someone was following you? Or have you heard footsteps but turned around to see noone was there? Perhaps it was Betobeto-san, trying to get past you. He’s quite shy, so try standing to the side of the road and inviting him to go ahead.

Hitodama (Human souls) 人魂
If a person dies, their spirit can soar to the sky in the form of a fireball. When the fireball falls back to earth, it splatters everything in slime. Hitodama can be orange or blue or white, and often appear just before a sick person passes away.

Kama itachi (Sickle Weasels) 鎌鼬
Whirling with the winds and slicing through the night, the Sickle Weasels work in teams of three to slash at their enemies using long sickle blades that extend from their paws.

Keukegen (Fluffy Thing) 毛羽毛現
Small and fluffy doesn’t always equal cute and friendly. A keukegen looks like a small, furry dog, but it spreads disease and prefers to live in dark, damp places. When written with different characters, keukegen can also mean “an unusual thing that is rarely seen” (希有怪訝).

Kitsune (Fox)
Young kitsune look like ordinary foxes, but the older they are, the more tails they grow, and the more powerful they become. When they have lived for a hundred years, they can change shape, even into human form. White foxes are linked to Inari, the god of rice. The fox’s favourite food is fried tofu.

Kodama (Tree Spirit) 木魂
Kodama live inside ancient trees, mimicking the sounds of the forest and causing echoes to bounce through the woods. Their trees are often ringed with a sacred rope called a shimenawa. If you cut down a kodama’s tree, you’re in for some very bad luck.

Oni (Ogre)
Oni are famous for their mean looks and nasty personalities. They have bad hair, poor dress sense and spiky horns. And they like to eat people, which makes them very unpopular.

Satori (literally: Consciousness)
He looks like a monkey, he smells like a monkey, and he eats like a monkey. But he can also read your thoughts. The satori prefers to live in the mountains and can only be conquered if you empty your mind.

Suna-kake-baba (Sand-throwing woman) 砂かけ婆
Living high in the treetops of a lonely forest, the suna-kake-baba is a grumpy old lady who sprinkles sand on people as they walk by underneath.

Tofu kozo (Tofu monk) 豆腐小僧
Beware, hungry traveler: The tofu kozo is a young monk who wanders quiet country roads carrying a plate of fresh tofu. Although it looks delicious, often garnished with a maple leaf, the tofu is cursed, and those who eat it will start to rot.

Yamabiko (Ghostly valley echo) 幽谷響
Don’t you hate it when someone echoes everything you say? Don’t you hate it when someone echoes everything you say? That’s exactly what the yamabiko does. It lives in the mountains and pretends to be a real echo. Not very helpful. Not very helpful.

Stay posted for a sneak preview of the yokai featured in Monster Matsuri

Cheers and scary reading!

 


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5 places to find strange and scary Japanese ghost stories

If you’re a fan of spooky Japanese mythology and folk tales (kaidan), then you probably know a few Japanese ghost stories and yokai (an umbrella term for Japanese monsters, demons, and supernatural creatures of every weird and wonderful kind). I adore yokai and the folklore that accompanies them, hence their appearance in my books.

If you’re new to the genre, there’s a few tried-and-true resources I totally recommend for getting started.

In no particular, I list below five places to go in your search for ghostly Japanese tales:

1) PROJECT GUTENBERG

What a fab idea this project is. From here you can download free e-books that are out of copyright, including:
– Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things
, by Lafcadio Hearn

Hearn’s awesome 1904 translation of early Japanese folklore. The full text is available free from Project Gutenburg, or you can check out a couple of the scary stories on my blog (Of a Mirror and a Bell (about the power of possessions and a curse) and Mujina (about a yokai without a face). (If you’re a teacher looking for a creative writing activity involving Kwaidan, try this.)

– Japanese Fairy Tales, by Yei Theodora Ozaki
Also available free at Project Gutenberg, this 1908 book includes some classics, like the Tongue-Cut Sparrow, Momotaro, and my favourite, How An Old Man Lost His Wen.

2) THE BLOGOSPHERE

There are a great many talented people out there, all translating a lot of cool stuff about Japanese folklore and tales. I like:

My yokai monogatari
A year in the life of a JET in Ishigawa as he experiences Japan and learns about yokai. A nice introduction to some famous yokai, with the added bonus of being a bit of a journey across 12 months.

Hyaku monogatari Kaidankai
Another JET, translator and scholar of Japanese folklore (specialising in yuurei or ghosts) is Zack Davisson, who runs this neat blog featuring translations of strange and spooky kaidan tales.

Pink Tentacle
If you’re interested in unusual snippets of art, culture and science about Japan, check out Pink Tentacle; it often includes choice info and awesome artwork feature yokai monsters. My favorites? Fake Japanese mermaids. Totally gross and completely inspiring.

Education in Japan Community Blog
Hasn’t been updated in a good while, but still full of great links to spooky stuff.

3) ART AND IMAGERY

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: a Field Guide to Japanese Yokai, by Matthew Meyer
If you don’t have a copy of the book, you can follow its creation on Matthew’s blog, and check out some of his yokai artwork. It’s awesome!

Pinterest
I’m totally new to pinterest, but if you want any scary inspiration, check out this collection of modern yokai art.

In Japanese
There are a couple of super databases for those who can read Japanese, or those (like me) who can read *some* Japanese and are incredibly patient with a kanji dictionary 😉 Check here if you’re chasing mostly text and here if you’re searching for a wealth of yokai images.

4) COLLECTIONS

The Obakemono Project: A gaijin’s guide to the fantastic folk monsters of Japan
A purple-flavoured monster wiki, the Obakemono Project has choice info on nearly 100 yokai, each with its own original purple-flavoured illustration. There’s also a forum for chatting with other obakemono fans. (This site was one of the early inspirations for Takeshita Demons: The Filth Licker, thanks to its gross but tantalising entry on akaname.)

Yokai Attack, by Matt Alt and Hiroko Yoda
A fun ‘Japanese Monster survival guide’ with historical information and new illustrations by Tatsuya Morino (taught by Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro creator Mizuki Shigeru). Matt and Hiroko’s other books and blog are also worth a look: there’s a book dedicated to ninja and another specifically for ghosts. Too sweet!

Folk Legends at Kids Web Japan
I’ve blogged about this site before and it totally rocks. A great place for your kids to spend time learning about Japan and its culture.

5) GOOD OLD-FASHIONED BOOKS

I love these books for the depth they add to the ghostly tales I already know. There’s a lot of cultural depth and quirks of history and legend. Many tidbits made their way into books 3 and 4.

Tales of Old Japan, A.B. Mitford (first published 1871 but republished by the Folklore Society in 2000)
Pandemonium and Parade, Michael Dylan Foster (2009; the result of university research and a fascinating look at how yokai tales have influenced Japanese culture)
Japanese Mythology, Juliet Piggot (1969; some incredible photos and art combined with Japanese myths and legends I had never heard of)
Myths and Legends of China and Japan, Donald A. Mackenzie (1986; harder to plough through, but some really useful and in-depth chapters on things like dragons and stone-lore)
Japanese Proverbs and Sayings, Daniel Crump Buchanan (1965; WOW! Pages and pages of Japanese proverbs, along with their cultural significance. This is gold!)(I’ve blogged about some of my favourite Japanese sayings here.)

More!?

This is really only the tip of the iceberg…I’d love to hear about other places to find myths and legends of Japan or other people interested in yokai. Please introduce yourself in the comments and point me in the right direction. THANKS!

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Quick quiz: Is your persimmon haunted?

persimmon monster - tankororin

The tankororin, about to drop from its tree...

Ever thought you might like to munch a chocolate bar instead of an apple? Prefer to eat banana cake and not bananas?

Well, you’re probably wise.

Fruit can be dangerous for your health!

Take the persimmon, for example. Persimmons are shiny orange fruit full of vitamin C and calcium and iron and lots of other stuff you need to stay healthy.

But how do you get all these healthy things?

You have to EAT the persimmon! And let me tell you, that’s not something I’d recommend.

Meet the tankororin: the Ripe Persimmon Monster.

The tankororin begins its life as an ordinary persimmon, but once it grows to a certain size on the persimmon tree, it jumps down, grows a human face and trots around on giant legs. Not what I’d like to find when I open my lunchbox!

Luckily, it’s easy to tell if your persimmon is becoming a tankororin monster. Try this quick quiz, for your own safety:

QUICK QUIZ: IS YOUR PERSIMMON HAUNTED?

Q1)      Does your persimmon have big, bulging eyes?

Yes:  Go to Q2

No:  Go to Q3

Q2)      Does your persimmon have a runny nose?

Yes:  Go to Q3 (and don’t worry…that’s not snot dribbling from your persimmon’s nose: it’s persimmon juice).

No:  Go to Q4

Q3)      Does your persimmon like to take long walks at night?

Yes:  Go to Q4

No:  Go to Q6

Q4)      Does your persimmon like to drop on people from above?

Yes:  Go to Q5

No:  Go to Q6

Q5)    Oh dear! I’m sorry to say that your persimmon is already haunted. Your only hope is to find a large Tupperware container, stick the persimmon inside and put the lid on tight. Then, stick the container in the freezer for a week. Your persimmon will freeze rock hard, then turn to sticky mush when it thaws. Safe!

Q6)    Congratulations! Your persimmon is probably safe to eat. Take a big bite. You see all those seeds? They grow into the persimmon monster’s brains and they’re tasty-tasty. Yum! Eat them while you can.


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4 ways to recognise a Japanese iso-onna vampire

iso-onna-with-child

The iso-onna is pictured here with her child, who (despite his cute looks) is rumoured to be the source of all her power.

Introducing the aquatic vampire: iso-onna…

The iso onna (磯女 or ‘beach rock woman’) is a super-scary Japanese yokai found in fishing villages all over Japan. She has many different names, and all of them seem friendly enough:

– iso onago = rock girl
– umi onna = ocean woman
– umi hime = ocean princess
– umi nyoubo = ocean wife

But a warning!

In fact, the iso onna isn’t friendly at all. If you meet her, she will probably scream in your ear, grab you by your hair and drag you to the bottom of the ocean. I hope you can swim!

If you want to avoid this dreadful fate, you need to be able to pick an iso onna in a crowd.

This is what to look for:

1)     She wants to suck your blood.
Many of you may think blood-sucking is obvious when it comes to vampires, but some vampires (in Madagascar) prefer to eat toenail clippings, so it’s always good to be sure. The iso-onna is a blood-sucker from way back, so you can all be relieved. Your toenails are safe.

2)     Her hair is almost always wet
She lives in an underwater cave, but…that doesn’t mean you are safe if you don’t like swimming. When she’s hungry, she crawls from the waves to lie in wait on beach rocks for something to catch and eat. Let’s hope it’s not you.

3)     Her top half is a woman, her bottom half is a dragon.Iso onna statue
When your bottom half is a dragon, you can have trouble blending in to normal society. Especially when you’re longer than a reticulated python. Unluckily for you, the iso-onna can make her bottom half go invisible whenever she feels like it. So (now that I think of it) looking for shiny dragon scales isn’t really going to help you. Sorry.

4)     She likes to party
The iso onna is most often spotted on New Year’s Eve or during Obon, the Japanese festival of the dead (when the spirits of your ancestors come home for a three-day celebration). Maybe she attends these parties so she can pick the tastiest party guest to devour. Or maybe she just gets lonely living in her cave and likes to share some good food and warm thoughts before sucking your blood. I am certainly not brave enough to ask her.

How to survive an iso onna attack

So, now that you know what you’re looking for, you probably want to know how to beat an iso-onna in a fight. Well, you can’t. You have no chance. Sorry.

OK. So maybe you have one chance:

How to avoid the iso onna
The only way to survive an iso onna is to avoid her altogether. So, before you sleep, take three strands from a sedge mat and place them on the clothes you plan to wear the next day. This should protect you while you sleep. There. Don’t say I never write anything helpful on this blog 😉 🙂

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You’ve heard of the headless horseman? How about the headless horse?

You’ve heard of the headless horseman, right? He’s a famous legend that grew from a character in a story published in America nearly 100 years ago.

But…have you heard of the headless horse?

The headless horse is the favourite method of transport for a Japanese ogre called Mr Yagyo, or Yagyo-san.

yagyousanIntroducing Yagyo-san

Mr Yagyo isn’t just a strange one-eyed creature who likes shorter-than-normal horses…

He’s also a ruthless killer with legs so hairy you could use them to grate cheese. He despises human beings and this hatred keeps a fire burning in his heart all year round.

Beware the spiky soybeanYagyo-san

On Yagyo Day – the day before Setsubun, the beginning of spring – Yagyo-san jumps on his horse and heads out to hunt some tasty humans.

If he sees you, he’ll throw a spiked soybean at you, aiming right for your eyes. (This is interesting because in Japan the next day is Setsubun, when the power of soybeans is reversed; you can protect your entire house from evil spirits like Yagyo-san by throwing soybeans on Setsubun.)

So, how can you survive?

Easy! Legends say that if you spend Yagyo Day lying face down on the ground with a pair of sandals on your head, Yagyo-san will pass you by. So don’t worry…You’re safe with sandals!


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More top teaching resources from the Dept of Education and Hyogo Centre’s Year 9 Japanese workshops

Hyogo Centre Japanese workshop team

The team pose in front of the money tree, where each leaf holds a message of hope from students and represents a donation to the Pray for Japan cause.

This month I’ve been working with the team at the Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre on some workshops for Year 9 students of Japanese.

The workshops were great fun and involved:

– lots of useful Japanese,

– some spooky Japanese art and culture (thanks to the Art Speaks Japanese language resource kit from the Japan Foundation Sydney), and

– a fun chance to combine both in a Make Your Own Monster exercise.

PLUS…raising student awareness of jishin and tsunami in Japan

Jessica Perrin (kneeling second from left in the front row) also ran some very relevant and emotional sessions created to raise student awareness of the tsunami and earthquake disasters in Japan.

Jessica is a Japanese teacher and scholarship recipient of The Japan Foundation Short-Term Training Program for Foreign Teachers of the Japanese Language.

Scroll down to download Jessica’s lesson plans and resources

Jessica created a list of teaching resources to go with this workshop session, as well as three lesson plans (see below), and she has kindly agreed to let me post this on this blog…thank you Jessica!

Disaster Resource – I love you baby,_Fukushima: A lesson plan that looks beyond the nuclear disaster at Fukushima to explore the natural and cultural beauty of this prefecture. Includes lyrics to the YouTube hit “I love you baby, Fukushima.” (lesson created by Jessica Perrin)

Disaster Resource – Jishin: A lesson plan covering jishin, the Japanese word for earthquake, including information on earthquake training in Japanese schools. (lesson created by Jessica Perrin)

Disaster Resource – Daijyoubu: A  lesson plan introducing the Japanese phrase daijyoubu and its deeper cultural meaning and many uses, in good times and bad. (lesson created by Jessica Perrin)

Japanese Disaster Resources Project
Compiled by Jessica Perrin

A number of links are listed below for your reference to learn more about the disaster and the response of the Japanese people. This is a small selection of the resources that are being gathered to help you to engage and inspire your students.

20 ways to teach about the disaster in Japan across the curriculum: Developed by the New York Times newspaper the site aims to build student understandings of the damage and effects of severe earthquakes and tsunamis with “ready-to-go” lessons plans.

Japan quake map: See the depth, size and location of quakes since March 11.

News footage as the quake struck: This short news clip clearly shows the force of the quake with how much the buildings shake.

Japan’s earthquake history: Peter Aldhous at the New Scientist produced an interactive graphic showing the location and information of all of Japan’s earthquakes.

What to do in an Earthquake: A great resource in easy Japanese with pictures for discussion

Discussion-stimulating video material: A very touching montage (also in English).

Hope Letters: Hope Letters aims to deliver letters of hope from all over the world to communities affected by devastation in Japan. Volunteers will translate letters and deliver them in a manner that limits burden on resources and infrastructures devoted to disaster relief. Through technology, Hope Letters aims for each letter to be read by multiple readers and to be preserved for future generations.

Pray for Japan: this website has a fabulous selection of posters created by Japanese children and
children from around the world with encouraging words.

• Singing Relays: Japanese company Suntory has organised two singing relays to give hope (here and here).  They say there are 30 different versions with 71 different people.

Let’s keep on sharing… Let’s keep on doing our part…….

Japanese Disaster Resources Project
Thanks Jessica!

This workshop was part of ongoing work by Ms Yuko Fujimitsu, Japanese Language Advisor for the Department of Education as part of the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP).

And while we’re sharing ideas on teaching resources, the following is a news clipping from the West Australian that celebrates some of the work of some students and teachers of Japanese in Perth: Well done everybody!

Students speak for quake victims with their art