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Uncanny Japan - Japanese Folklore, Folktales, Myths and Language

Society-and-culture • Education

Looking for a podcast on Japan's mysterious culture? Try listening to Thersa Matsuura's Uncanny Japan Podcast and experience all that is weird about Japan—strange superstitions, folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks—and not found anywhere else! Show notes and transcriptsRead more

Popular episodes

Sakuragaike: A Tortured Snake-Dragon Loses it Scales, Pt 2 (Ep. 89)

Dec 2 • 15:03

Today I'll tell you part 2 of the Sakuragaike Legend (and nanafushigi!) What was waiting at the bottom of the lake? Why was the snake-dragon suffering and how did his old follower help him? Where is Kouen Ajari The Snake-Dragon now?...

Sakuragaike: A Snake-Dragon Coiled and Waiting, Part 1 (Ep. 88)

Nov 16 • 19:02

The story goes that a large snake-dragon lives at the bottom of Sakuragaike Lake. It's waiting. But where did this snake-dragon come from, and who is it waiting for? I'll tell you about this still obscure myth -- and nanafushigi -- in this episode of Uncanny Japan....

Halloween Episode: Kokkuri Spirit Boards and WTF?! (Ep. 87)

Oct 28 • 29:23

Kokkuri or Kokkuri-san is the name for the Japanese ouija or spirit board. It's also the name for the spirit who visits during the game. For Halloween, Richard and I decided to try our hand at this super creepy pastime and you'll never believe what happens. Headphones on and buckle up!...

Scary Story Time: "Go-Away Monkey" (Ep. 86)

Oct 18 • 55:40

For the spooky month of October, I'm reading my short horror story, "Go-Away Monkey" from my collection The Carp-Faced Boy and Other Tales. It's set in an older Japan in a small village that has been ravaged by smallpox. If you remember Episode 4 (Monkeys and Monkey Lore), you'll understand the monkey show coming to town to drive away all the bad luck and disease. But does...

The Most Merciless Yokai: the Korori (Ep.85)

Sep 29 • 13:40

The obscure and terrifyingly deadly yokai, the korori, ravaged Edo Japan. On today's episode I'll tell you all about it, what it really was and how foreigners were the ones who brought it to Japan....

Misemono: Edo Era Freak Shows (Ep. 84)

Sep 15 • 17:06

A misemono is like a carnival, museum, zoo, and freak show all rolled into one. Here you could see exotic animals, buy cure-all medicines, and check out mermaid mummies among many, many other thrills....

Ningyo: The Ugly (and Delicious!) Japanese Mermaid (Ep. 83)

Aug 30 • 17:23

A Japanese mermaid is called a ningyo (人魚) or human fish. Today I'll tell you about their history, the good, the bad, and the delicious!...

Obon Story Time: "At Yaidzu" by Lafcadio Hearn (Ep. 82)

Aug 15 • 30:34

It's Obon and today I want to read to you an essay by Lafcadio Hearn. He wrote it about the town he would stay at during summers, the town I've lived in for 25 plus years. Here he talks not just about the lantern floating ceremony, but also the ocean and ghost and gods and how we humans fit into it all....

Hitobashira: The Tragic Stories of Human Pillars (Ep. 81)

Jul 30 • 18:24

How do you build a bridge that stands up to storms and floods? Well, you have to appease the nature gods, of course. But how do you do that? Human sacrifice seemed to have worked in the past. Today I'll talk about hitobashira or human pillars. An ancient tradition of insuring strong river banks, fireproof castles, and tunnels that won't collapse....

The Adorably Creepy Tofu Kozo (Ep. 80)

Jul 15 • 09:27

The Tofu Kozo is a seemingly innocent little yokai who appears on rainy days offering a plate of tofu to unsuspecting people. What could possibly go wrong?...

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