Halloween Celebration: Japanese Horror Showcase!

“Japanese Horror Showcase”

Written by: Brandon Skanes and Cory Sellars

Message from the Owner:

In the spring of 2020 I became fascinated with Japanese culture, and this was the result of watching the anime Inuyasha (2000-2004). The “Inuyasha” anime (also based on a manga series which ran from 1996 to 2008), is primarily set in Feudal Japan.

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This was a time from 1185 to about 1603, as it covered much of the Middle-Ages.Since this popular anime took place in a world of the past, stories often involved demons, ghosts, as well as yokai. So, what are yokai? According to yokai.com,

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“Yokia are strange supernatural creatures and phenomena from Japanese folklore. The world of yokai also includes ghosts, transformed human and animals, spirit possession, urban legends, and other strange phenomena.”

I’ve learned some things about the Japanese supernatural, especially in 2021 when my friends and I conducted a paranormal investigation for the first time. From our own research, I also learned that some Asian cultures use intense profanity to push evil spirits away. So, what do we have in store today at The Modernist Son? Well, today’s blog post will be another showcase. This time we are focusing on Japanese horror, as a means of celebrating the Halloween season.

Before we dive straight into the content, our team has an announcement to make. I (the owner) and Cory Sellars have decided to collaborate for my next volume of poetry. This poetry collection is expected for the summer of 2022, and will be titled Cosmo and the Revolution. Horror will be a subgenre for this volume, as we will also focus on love, life, and the human condition. With that being said, Cory is also the co-author for this horror showcase.

Suicide Forest:

(Written by Brandon Skanes)

About two hours from Tokyo, the area known as “Suicide Forest” rests on the northwestern part of Mount Fuji. Known formally as Aokigahara the forest gets its name from the large amount of people who have taken their own lives within the dense proximity.

Drawing from the significance of this place in Japanese culture, it’s said to be inhabited by the yurei- Japanese ghosts said to be prohibited from a peaceful afterlife. Thus, spirits of these dead men and women restlessly haunt the grounds of the park. As recently as the 1960s (it could have been earlier than this), the park has been associated with the issue of suicide and the paranormal. Interestingly, this has led to the nickname “Suicide Forest” within the English-speaking world. Back in 2003, 105 bodies of the deceased were found in the forest. Yes, that’s just for one year.

So, besides the issue of mass suicide; what makes this place so haunted? Well, this place has been long associated with death and the supernatural. Actually, there have been records of large amounts of death as far back as the 1800s. Although not necessarily a proven fact, it’s possible ubasute was practiced in the area during the 1800s. More specifically, the term ubasute refers to bringing frail (or sick) elderly people to a remote area, and leaving them to die. Some people viewed this as a way of putting people out of their misery. However, we cannot dismiss this was the process of abandoning human life.

Red, or Blue?

(Written by Cory Sellars)

Here’s one of my favourite Japanese urban legends, and one I heard about when I was a kid. Actually, I heard about this legend when I was in junior high from 2008 to 2011. The paranormal creature known as the Aka Manto or even Red Cape, is something you would find in public bathrooms. Now, it’s something you would find more so in the public bathrooms of Japanese schools. But why Japan in particular? Well, I have no idea. Maybe someone pissed it off. In terms of what the story deals with, the Aka Manto is a masked spirit who appears to people when they are using public bathrooms.

With most urban legends from specific areas, legends can change based on locale. For instance, this story could be told differently at different high schools, in the same city. Of course, the core narrative elements stay the same. The spirit will ask people whether they want red or blue toilet paper. If the potential victim actually chooses one of those colours, they will be killed by the spirit right away. Your best bet is to ignore it. If you choose neither, or just ignore the spirit; it’s supposed to leave you alone. Scary, right? Well, this urban legend has been around since at least the 1930s.

Here's something we both picked:

The Datsue-ba is an interesting tale. Keep in mind, the main religions in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism, so this story will make more sense. This creature is an old woman who sits at the edge of the Sanza River, which is located in the Buddhist underworld. As we have mentioned, some of Japanese folklore has been inspired by Buddhism, as it's one of the main religions on the island.

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According to Japan's Buddhist folklore, when a child dies they must cross the Sanza River so they can achieve peace at the time of death. Adults can cross the underworld river at three different locations, but children have trouble making this journey. This concept relies on life experience, as children have not lived long enough to have this type of spiritual strength. In terms of the legend, when children arrive at the edge of the river, they will be greeted by Datsue-ba. She will encourage the deceased children to use pebbles to cross the river, but this is all an act. Once the children have made it far enough, she will maliciously knock the make-shift bridge down; sending her army of demons after the children's souls. When it comes to adults, they will be stripped of their clothing or their skin, if they died without wearing clothes.

What are your thoughts? Let us know what you think!

The Modernist Son, 2020-2021

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