Monday, March 31, 2008

Japanese Ghosts and Demons

(Inspired by Jeffrey Sibelia's winning collection for Project Runway, season 3)

If the soul of the dead is not purified, it can return to the land of the living in the guise of a ghost. Also, if a dead person is not delivered, through prayer, from personal emotions such as jealousy, envy or anger, the spirit can return in a ghostly guise. The ghost haunts the place where it lived and persecutes those responsible for his or her bitter fate. The ghost will remain until released from its suffering through the good offices of a living person who prays that the soul of the dead ... may ascend. ~Norman A Rubin "Ghosts, Demons and Spirits in Japanese Lore"


Most creatures in stories of unfortunate spirits were women. They were vengeful ghosts, and the greater the misery endured by the woman during her lifetime, the more threatening her ghostly spirits would be after her death. Cruelty to women is a recurring theme in Japanese lore and legend. ~Norman A. Rubin "Ghosts, Demons and Spirits in Japanese Lore"


When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage... a curse is born. The curse gathers in that place of death. Those who encounter it will be consumed by its fury. ~The Grudge


A long, long time ago, a woman named Oiwa was married to a man named Iemon and they lived in Yotsuya. One day, a rich lady fell in love with Iemon and captured his heart with her money. Iemon ordered his servant "Put a little of this medicine into Oiwa's every meal". Day by day, Oiwa grew weak, lost her hair and the right side of her face became deformed. After this she was treated cruelly by the people around her and she died holding a grudge against them. After her death many strange things ... happened and all of the people who had mistreated her died.


Yuki Onna (Snow Woman; yuki means snow and onna means woman.) On nights when it is snowing, Yuki Onna appears on the road wearing a kimono and asks you to hold her baby. Her breath is as cold as ice. If you hold her baby your whole body will be frozen by her breath. She often visits mountain huts enticing men (to come outside), and takes away their souls.


Okiku works as a maid at the home of the samurai Tessan Aoyama\u0005. One day while cleaning a collection of ten precious ceramic plates--a family treasure--she accidentally breaks one of them. The outraged Aoyama kills her and throws the corpse into an old well. Every night afterwards, Okiku's ghost rises from the well, counts slowly to nine and then breaks into heartrending sobs, over and over and over again, tormenting the samurai. Finally, vengeance is wrought when Aoyama goes insane.


An interesting physical aspect of yurei (japanese ghost) is that they have no legs, trailing off instead into smoke-like wisps where a person's legs would normally be. The absence of legs fits with the general non-corporeality of the yurei, for their whole bodies are wraithlike and lacking in that outer boundary of skin or scale that holds other living things in shape. Legs serve to join creatures to the soil, they root being to the earth, and so to be legless is in a sense to be disengaged.


lulucool said...

hmmmm Very interesting.....

Karmander said...