60 episodes

Speculative fiction writer, long-term resident of Japan and Bram Stoker Award finalist Thersa Matsuura explores all that is weird from Japan—strange superstitions, folklore and folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures she digs up while doing research for her writing.

Uncanny Japan - Japanese Folklore, Folktales, Myths and Language Thersa Matsuura

    • Places & Travel

Speculative fiction writer, long-term resident of Japan and Bram Stoker Award finalist Thersa Matsuura explores all that is weird from Japan—strange superstitions, folklore and folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures she digs up while doing research for her writing.

    Kanreki: Your Auspicious Years, Yakudoushi: Your Calamitous Ones

    Kanreki: Your Auspicious Years, Yakudoushi: Your Calamitous Ones

    Kanreki is the celebration of a 60th birthday. They’ll don a red vest, called a chanchanko, a red billowy hat, called an e-boshi and be given a white fan to hold. Yakudoshi are the ages you're believed to be more susceptible to sickness, misfortune or some other disaster.

    • 16 min
    Koumare Ishi: Inexplicable Rocks That Predict the Deaths of Monks

    Koumare Ishi: Inexplicable Rocks That Predict the Deaths of Monks

    Koumare Ishi is one of the nanafushigi or seven mysterious occurrences from my area. The belief is that a rock is born from the side of the mountain, and when it falls the head abbot of the nearby temple, Daitoku, dies.

    • 15 min
    Bon Odori: Dancing with the Dead

    Bon Odori: Dancing with the Dead

    Bon Odori or Bon Dancing is a summer tradition held all over Japan. It's a chance for families to get together and have an enjoyable time dancing to the rhythmical music. Seeing as how the Obon season is also when ancestors visit from beyond the grave, they, too, can take part in the festivities if they wish.

    • 20 min
    The Jellyfish Takes a Journey (plus eel and seppuku!)

    The Jellyfish Takes a Journey (plus eel and seppuku!)

    Ever wonder why a jellyfish looks the way they do? Well, the Japanese folktale "The Jellyfish Takes a Journey" (Kurage no Honenashi) tells you how that came about. Then after that folktale, I'll give you a little trivia about the connection between eel and seppuku.

    • 17 min
    Food Superstitions and Sayings

    Food Superstitions and Sayings

    Why shouldn't you eat crab and watermelon together? What will happen if you don't eat all the rice in your bowl? Today I'll answer these and a whole lot more. Japanese food superstitions and sayings are quite interesting and sometimes funny.

    • 22 min
    Star-Crossed Lovers (Tanabata)

    Star-Crossed Lovers (Tanabata)

    Tanabata is a Japanese festival based on the bizarre tale of two star-crossed lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi. I'll tell you their story, explain a little about the origins and how it's celebrated today.

    • 16 min

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