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Old 12-05-2008   #11
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Re: Japan and Japanese people

I especially like the stereoview cards with the cascade of purple blossom at the top and with the two cranes at the bottom.

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Old 12-05-2008   #12
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Re: Japan and Japanese people

Thank you, Slawek. My favorite of these stereoptic images is "Teaching monkey."

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 12-09-2008   #13
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Re: Japan and Japanese people

A Japanese doll...


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Old 12-09-2008   #14
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Re: Japan and Japanese people

The Living Mummified Monks, Asahi, Yamagata Prefecture

Over a 900 years ago there was a monk of the Shingon sect who took it upon himself to truly test his Buddhist principles. The technique of sokushinbutsu is a very long, elaborate and painful one. It was typically performed by older monks as it is a form of suicide.

To become a mummy a monk would follow a strict diet in three 1000 day cycles. In the first thousand days the monk would have a strict diet of walnuts, hazelnuts, and nutmeg gathered from the surrounding areas. This strict regimented diet helped to strip the body of fat. Fat decomposes quickly in death.

In the second 1000 day period, the monk would eat only bark and roots of a pine tree. This accelerated the decrease in the body’s fat content as well as hydration. At the end of the second period the monk would imbibe a very poisonous sap made into a tea. The tea was made from the Japanese varnish tree. The varnish was typically applied to preserve lacquer-ware. The varnish would induce vomiting as well as massive reduction of bodily fluids. By drinking the tea the monk’s body would bio-accumulate the toxin. This toxin would later be an agent to fight of bacteria and insects that would seek to eat monk’s corpse.

When the monk was no more than a living skeleton and his body was in excruciating pain they would be placed in 3 meter stone tomb. The monk would sit in the lotus position in this tomb and he was given a bell and air tube. When the monk did not ring the bell it was presumed that he was dead and the air tube was removed.

It is believed that of the hundreds of monks that tried this technique only 16-28 actually became self-mummified. The reason the monks would endure this painful process was as a testament to their faith. All existence is suffering,and to endure this painful process allowed the monk to transcend the physical and exist solely on a spiritual level. At least that was the idea. When further study was given to the monks it was discovered that the more successful monks drank from a nearby spring. This spring was believed to contain healthy mineral waters. The mineral waters were actually heavily loaded with arsenic. Another agent that would have bio-accumulated in the monk’s system as a preservative.

Self-mummification was a very painful process, but when successful the monks body was taken up to a temple to be revered. For truly he had become a Buddha.

You can come face-to-face with a living mummy in Churenji Temple, should you wish to look into the sunken eye-sockets of a grinning monk who achieved his macabre goal (first 2 pics) it’s said that the ghosts of these failed monks remain in the temple, haunting residents and causing spooky things to happen.











(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure

Last edited by Cyril Tourneur; 12-09-2008 at 10:55 PM..
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Old 12-10-2008   #15
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Re: Japan and Japanese people

Eeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!

(I'd insert the screaming smiley, but I'm at work. And the smileys don't seem to function on my work computer.)

I thought the doll I'd posted was gross -- but she doesn't even come close!

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Old 12-11-2008   #16
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Re: Japan and Japanese people

Okiku’s Well, Himeji Castle



An ukiyo-e print by Hokusai depicting Okiku

The legend of Okiku tells the story of a maid who, after breaking one of a set of precious Korean plates, was bound and thrown down a well by her master. The tale was told throughout Japan in a great variety of forms, the most popular version established in 1795, when Japan suffered an infestation of a type of worm found in old wells that became known as the "Okiku bug" (Okiku mushi). This worm, covered with thin threads making it look as though it had been bound, was widely believed to be a reincarnation of Okiku.

Folk version

Okiku was the beautiful servant of the samurai, Aoyama Tessan. She refused his amorous advances so he tricked her into believing that she had carelessly lost one of the family's ten precious delft (yes Johan, that's porcelain from Delft/NED) plates. She recounted the nine plates many times but when she could not find the tenth, Aoyama offered to overlook the matter if she became his lover. Again she refused and he threw her down a well to her death.

She became a vengeful spirit who tormented her murderer by counting to nine and then making a terrible shriek to represent the missing tenth plate. In some versions of the story, this torment continued until an exorcist or neighbor shouted "ten" in a loud voice at the end of her count. Her ghost, apparently easily satisfied, haunted the samurai no more.



Yo####oshi Tsukioka's portrait of Okiku.

Ningyō Jōruri version

Hosokawa Katsumoto, the lord of Himeji Castle, has fallen seriously ill. Katsumoto's heir, Tomonosuke, plans to give a set of 10 precious plates to the Shogun to ensure his succession. However, chief retainer Asayama Tetsuzan plots to take over. Tomonosuke's retainer, Funase Sampei Taketsune is engaged to marry a lady in waiting, Okiku. Tetsuzan plans to force Okiku to help him murder Tomonosuke.

Tetsuzan, through the help of a spy, steals one of the 10 plates, and plans to accuse Okiku of stealing the plate if she does not assist in the crime. Tetsuzan summons Okiku to bring the box containing the plates to his chamber. There, he attempts to seduce Okiku, although she refuses due to her love for Takatsune. Rejected, he then has Okiku count the plates, and finds only nine. He blames her for the theft, and swears to lie for her if she will be his mistress. Okiku again refuses, and Tetsuzan has her beaten with a wooden sword.

Tetsuzan then has her suspended over a well and, erotically enjoying her torture, has her lowered into the well several times, beating her himself when she is raised. He demands that she become his lover, and assist in the murder of Tomonosuke. She refuses again, and Tetsuzan slashes her with his sword, sending her body into the well.

While wiping clean his sword, the sound of a voice counting plates comes from the well. Tetsuzan realizes that it is the ghost of Okiku, but is entirely unmoved. The play ends with the ghost of Okiku rising from the well, and Tetsuzan staring at her contemptuously.



Okamoto Kido version

In 1655, in Edo, a vassal of the Shogun Aoyama Harima has fallen in love with a young servant girl Okiku. Aoyama has promised to marry her, but has recently received an auspicious marriage proposal from an Aunt. Aoyama promises Okiku that he will honor their love, and refuse the proposal.

Okiku doubts, and tests him by breaking one of the 10 heirloom plates that are the treasure of the Aoyama household. The traditional punishment for breaking one of the plates is death, which is demanded by Aoyama's family.

At first, Aoyama is convinced that Okiku broke the plate by accident, and pardons her, but when Okiku reveals that she broke the plate as a love-test, Aoyama is enraged and kills her. He then throws her body down a well.

From then after, Okiku’s ghost is seen to enter the house and count the plates, one through nine. Encountering her in the garden, Aoyama sees that her ghostly face is not one of vengeance, but beautiful and calm. Taking strength from this, he commits seppuku and joins her in death.

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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Old 12-13-2008   #17
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Re: Japan and Japanese people

What would they have done to her had she broken a cup as well as a plate?

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Old 12-14-2008   #18
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Re: Japan and Japanese people

Here is a Japanese doll from my collection of such things:



If one presses a brick in the base, one hears the voice of a Japanese actress.

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Old 12-19-2008   #19
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Re: Japan and Japanese people

A Little Lesson in Japanese Ghost Lore

Japan like any other country is steeped in ghostly lore. Here are a few more common Japanese spirits for you to read about and be eerily amazed.

1: Bakechochin:

Translated as "haunted Lantern", in Japanese folklore a bakechochin is a lantern inhabited by ghosts. According to folklore the lantern has a long tongue and wild eyes and is home for the ghosts of people who died with hate in their hearts; for this reason, they are doomed to haunt the earth for all time. If someone should light one of the haunted lanterns it is thought that a hateful ghost may leap out of it and attack.

2: Buruburu:

Buruburu, meaning the sound of shivering, is a terrible ghost from Japanese folklore that for reasons unknown is said to lurk in forests and graveyards in the form of an old person, who is sometimes one-eyed. According to legend it attaches itself to its victim's spine and causes a chill to run down them, or in the worse case causes them to die of fright.

3: Gashadokuro:

A Gashadokuro according to Japanese folklore is a giant skeleton many times taller than a human. It is though to be made of the bones of people who have starved to death. After midnight the ghost roams the streets making a ringing noise that sounds in the ears. If people do not run away when the Gashadokuro approaches it will bite off their heads with its giant teeth.

4: Ikiryoh:

The Ikiryoh is the name used to describe an entity that is thought to be created by the evil thoughts and feelings of a person. When it is energized by hatred the Ikiryoh becomes so powerful it can leave the person harboring hateful thoughts and enter and possess the person who is the object of the hatred. Once it is inside the person it can kill the victim slowly by draining away the person's energy. The Ikiryoh is thought to be extremely difficult to exorcise and there are numerous rites to drive it away, including of Buddhist scriptures.

5: Konakijii

A Konakijii is the spirit of a baby who has been left to die in the woods. The Konakijii lures people out to the woods with the sound of its crying, but when people get close they see that the baby has the face of an old man. If they pick the baby up it is impossible to put down and suddenly becomes so heavy that it crushes unsuspecting victims to death.

6: Kubikajiri:

The Kubikajiri is a head-eating ghost, who has a distinctive smell-that of fresh blood, and is said to lurk around graveyards at night searching for its head. If it can't find its own head it will try to eat the heads of anything, living or dead that crosses it path.

7: Mononoke:

The Mononoke is a ghost that resides in inanimate objects. It is found in temples, shrines and graveyards and likes to scare or even kill people. Priests are thought to be able to drive it away be reciting Buddhist sutras. According to Shinto belief, all things, including inanimate objects, have their own unique spirit (kami), which gives them life.

8: Nurikabe:

According to Japanese folklore on the Island of Kyushu, the Nurikabe is said to be a wall ghost. It appears as a large, white wall, with pairs of arms and legs, to people out walking late of night. Now, if a person attempts to pass the ghostly wall, it may fall and crush them or if the person attempts to turn around or run away the wall reappears in front of them. According to the legend the only way to escape is to hit the bottom of the wall with a stick and it will vanish. The origin of the Nurikabe is uncertain, but it may have developed as a way to explain delays when people got lost or went out walking for a long time without reaching their destination.

9: Shojo:

A Shojo is a traditional Japanese ghost form that haunts the open sea. They are said to have flaming red hair, but intend no harm to humans. They are supposedly addicted to drinking, dancing, and merry-making. Because their favorite drink is Sake, some Japanese traditions hold that these spirits may be caught by luring them on to land with a jar of liquor.

10: Tsukumogami:

This is a Japanese spirit that closely resembles the 'Brownie'. Translated as 'old tool spirits', the Tsukumogami inhabits tools and performs household and cleaning chores by themselves at night. If the tools are mistreated or neglected they take revenge by attacking their owners while they are asleep.

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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Old 12-20-2008   #20
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Re: Japan and Japanese people



Autumn Grasses - Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828)

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