Image Credit: www.wikipedia.com
I have mentioned this creature from Japanese folklore (the Akaname) in previous blog entries, as well as my own eBooks I have published within the last month. Much like (some) other forms of cautionary tales, the Akaname was likely created by parents in order to scare their children into doing their household chores. Not to anyone's surprise, kids don't usually want to do their chores. Instead, they want to enjoy the seemingly care-free lifestyle of being a kid. Sometimes, parents have to think of new strategies in order to get their kids to help them around the household. Therefore, parents come up with stories to manipulate their kids into being productive. More specifically, the Akaname inhabits dirty bathrooms that have not been cleaned by young Japanese children.
With respect to the nature of this story, why does it work so effectively? Well, scare tactics are often successful when it comes to parents trying to get their kids to do something. Although creatures in folklore more or less exist in variation, it's likely the story of the Akaname is exclusive to Japanese folklore. Thus, a North American version of this story does not exist - at least in theory. In the event there is a North American version of the Akaname, it significantly deviates from the popular Japanese version.
As readers can tell from this frightening image (see above), it's not hard to understand why the aforementioned story works with kids. For instance, what if you were a nine year old child and you just wanted to play your Xbox or PlayStation? Well, what if the bathroom was quite dirty at the same time? Depending on where you live in the world, your parents might try and tell you the story of the Akaname. In terms of the image above, the creature is portrayed as lurking behind a corner watching the child whom has not yet cleaned the bathroom- which was their assigned chore. In some versions of the story (variants are exclusive to Japan), the creature will drag the child into the toilet and take them away. However, in less gruesome versions the Akaname will watch the child until their chores are completed. Regardless, the Akaname is not something a child or even an adult should wish to encounter.
Parenting and Discipline:
As a folklorist, I have learned from research in the past that a large amount of cautionary tales have been created (although there is never an original source) within the last one-hundred to four-hundred years. Despite its characteristics being similar to monsters from Feudal Japan (referring to the mythology), something to consider is that the Akaname's depiction in the image above is deliberate. Therefore, the artwork is seemingly older in order to persuade children that the creature has existed for centuries- if not longer. In terms of reality, the story of the Akaname has only been circulating for a few hundred years- at least this is what some folklorists believe. Although the Akaname narrative very well could have been in existence for over 1,000 years, the most recent transmission of the legend only goes back a few centuries. Although I will likely not have my first child until about two years from now (I'm 24 years old), it's evident that parents are constantly changing the nature of stories in order to influence the behavior of their kids. Interestingly, this was something I mentioned in one of my eBooks.
Parents and persons of authority consistently share stories as a means of enforcing rules. From my own personal example, this comes from when I was in the sixth grade (2007-2008). In order to protect her identity, I will refer to my sixth grade teacher as "Ms. Quackenbush". Towards the end of the school year in 2008, Ms. Quackenbush understood that many of the male students in class would begin slacking, and enjoying their final moments in elementary school. Of course, I was also far from innocent within this context. Furthermore, the sixth grade was my most enjoyable year during my time in elementary school. Towards the end of the school year, a large amount of the male students would ask to go to the bathroom and be absent from class for about half an hour. In response to this recurring situation, Ms. Quackenbush created the legend of the Corridor Monster. No one actually believed it existed, however, this was sometimes questioned by students when inexplicable loud noises were heard throughout the school. When the male students were absent from class, Ms. Quackenbush would claim the Corridor Monster got them depending on how long the students were absent from class. As a folklorist, I find this story quite fascinating. Although the Corridor Monster didn't actually exist, students would transmit the story of this legend just for the enjoyment of telling stories. Nevertheless, students would also take turns drawing their own depictions of the monster itself.
(c) The Modernist Son, 2020
Further Reading: Akaname | Cryptid Wiki | Fandom
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