Monday, May 17, 2021

Something About Yūrei (幽霊)

In ghostly Japan.

I’ve decided to read up on ghostly Japan.

Yūrei (幽霊) are figures in Japanese folklore analogous to the Western model of ghosts. The name consists of 幽 (yū), meaning faint or dim, and 霊 (rei), meaning soul or spirit. Matthew Meyer ( says there are many examples of such entities, depending on the circumstances on their death:
They retain the features and the clothing they wore when they died or were buried, which means they are dressed in white burial kimonos or the uniforms of fallen warriors. Occasionally, they have bloody wounds indicative of the way they died. Their hair is usually long and disheveled, often obstructing their face and adding to their disturbing appearance. Their hands hang limply from their wrists. Yūrei are translucent and only faintly visible. In most cases they are so faint that they appear to have no feet.
Some famous locations said to be haunted by yūrei include the well of Himeji Castle, haunted by the ghost of Okiku, and Aokigahara, the forest at the bottom of Mount Fuji. A particularly powerful onryō, known as Oiwa, is said to be able to bring vengeance on any actress portraying her part in a theater or film adaptation. A clamorous harbinger of blood and death, indeed.

I’m reminded of the “they took my eyes” guy from The Eyes of the Killer Robot with the yūrei description. Part of me wonders of Bellairs ever wanted to up the notch of some of his supernatural tales, but I sense this would run counter to his belief of how “some people think horror is to be grossed-out by these really disgusting things. But for me, horror is suggestion and what might happen and the old-fashioned haunted house movies.” (“Author's Imagination Stuck at 10”, 1990)

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