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Japan’s Onryō Spirits Inhabit a Purgatory of Revenge and Cosmic Rage (atlasobscura.com)
55 points by Thevet on Nov 11, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 8 comments

Atlas Obscura is such a cool company. After years of using their site to discover new places, I only recently realized that a person could pay for a membership with them. The costs are super low and I highly encourage anyone who loves this site to do it.


I got their atlas book. It is really nice and probably make for a nice gift if person likes traveling.

I think AirBnB invested in them

There was a US service member captured by the Japanese during WW2 (early on in the Philippines I think). He was going to be executed. He told the Japanese officer ordering the execution something to the effect of 'You can kill my body but you can never kill my spirit. If you kill me, I will haunt you.' and they actually stopped the execution.

I wish I could remember his name or the documentary I saw that included him. There were other remarkable aspects to his story. Quite the example of sheer determination to survive.

Glenn D. Frazier. Google search rank 5 for If you kill me, I will haunt you. Who knows what went through that Japanese officers mind.


i love japanese yokai* lore and mythical creatures. it's not just spirits of humans but animals, spirits, ghosts and even 'feelings' that wait to haunt the living.

i wrote a series of children's short stories based on yokai at the farm. there is the hyosube which is an eggplant kappa. it is hairy and angry. hates horses and loves eating eggplants. its usually found in vegetable gardens and eats all the eggplants. he has a bowl like indention where there ought to be the top of the skull. it needs to be filled with water all the time because if there is no water, it will die.

so it has the habit of creeping into peoples baths and soaking in the bathtubs. people are fearful because if you look into their eyes, you will surely die.

eta: thats the lore. in my story, the farmer finds a hyosube destroying his eggplant patch and because he is polite..he bows to the hyosube before running scared away from it. but because the hyosube was also polite, it bows back and the water on top of it's skull bowl empties itself. and its about to die. so the farmer refills it. and the hyosube is grateful and behaves in his garden. and the farmer always leaves something for the hyosube from the harvests.

i wrote the story for the hyosube descriptions, but my friends who were moms said it was too much. so i tweaked it into a story to show how even hyosubes are polite and it would be a good idea for all children to be polite to everyone. even hairy dirty hyosubes that steal your garden produce. they seemed to like it better. but i really really enjoyed describing a scary hyosube that splashes around clean bathtubs and makes a mess when it steals into people's homes. you are not even allowed to scare children with stories these days!(/s)

mostly i wanted kids to love eggplants. wouldnt kids love eating more eggplants if they knew a hyosube that splashed in a bath tub is also their buddy?



One of the most famous Onryos: Sugawara no Michizane.

From the Wikipedia article:

> Within the abdication of Emperor Uda, Michizane's position became increasingly vulnerable. In 901, through the political maneuverings of his rival, Fujiwara no Tokihira, Michizane was demoted from his aristocratic rank of junior second to a minor official post at Dazaifu, in Kyūshū's Chikuzen Province, and died in exile. After Michizane's death, plague and drought spread and sons of Emperor Daigo died in succession. The Imperial Palace's Great Audience Hall (shishinden) was struck repeatedly by lightning, and the city experienced weeks of rainstorms and floods. Attributing this to the angry spirit of the exiled Sugawara, the imperial court built a Shinto shrine called Kitano Tenman-gū in Kyoto, and dedicated it to him. They posthumously restored his title and office, and struck from the record any mention of his exile. Even this was not enough, and 70 years later Sugawara was deified as Tenjin-sama, a god of sky and storms. Eventually Tenjin evolved into a benign kami of scholarship. Today many Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to him. He became the most notable example of an interesting spiritual transformation: a vengeful Japanese spirit, onryō, is a violent ghost, usually a former aristocrat who was wrongfully killed, and consequently seeking revenge. When well supplicated, however, onryō spirits may willingly convert to goryō, benevolent spirits who can be powerful allies.

That's a lot of coincidence.

I thought this was going to be an article about whisky.

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