57 episodes

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

Uncanny Japan - Myths, Folktales, Superstitions, History and Language Thersa Matsuura

    • Places & Travel
    • 4.9, 164 Ratings

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

    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
    Yokai-Related Sayings: Becoming a Tengu

    Yokai-Related Sayings: Becoming a Tengu

    What if someone told you that you were turning into a tengu, one of those red-faced, long-nosed goblins? What would they mean? In this episode of Uncanny Japan, I talk about a handful of Japanese sayings that are based on youkai.

    • 15 min
    Creepy Children's Song - Kagome Kagome

    Creepy Children's Song - Kagome Kagome

    In Japan "Kagome Kagome" is an old children's game and the song that goes along with it. It's interesting because the mysterious lyrics have several different interpretations and most of them are pretty grim.

    • 16 min
    Putting a Curse on Your Enemies (Ushi no Koku Mairi)

    Putting a Curse on Your Enemies (Ushi no Koku Mairi)

    Ushi no Koku Mairi means visiting a shrine at the hour of the ox (between 1:00 and 3:00 am). It also means going there so you can put a curse on your enemy. Deriving from the legend of Hashi Hime (The Bridge Princess) and the Noh play Kanawa (The Iron Crown), this peculiar and frightening way of cursing those who have wronged you is definitely next level.

    • 16 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
164 Ratings

164 Ratings

Passingbirds ,

The best of the best

When I was looking for a Japanese history themed podcast specifically hosted by a woman, I thought my options were slim. But when I stumbled upon uncanny Japan, I got more than i could have ever hoped for. Thersa’s voice is so calming and pleasant, combined with incredibly interesting stories, told with excitement you can feel. Its just truly my favorite podcast to listen to. Thersa is a credible source, telling stories with personal experience thrown in. You really cant explain how perfect this pod is. A million out of ten stars.

BabrahamLincoln1203 ,

Amazing Podcast!

This is truly one of my favorites. Thersa Matsuura has such a nice voice. I love how we get to hear the background sounds of Japan for the ambience of urban legends, or religious thought, or sometimes just creepy stuff. I learn something new every listen right before bed!

Strickizzay ,

Stumbled upon this gem by accident and glad I did.

I love this podcast. The ambient sounds on every episode, the ominous music of the intro. Being fascinated with Japan and its culture most of my life, I found this podcast refreshing and right a long the lines of what I was looking for. Ms. Matsuura really helps engage the listener where you are hanging on to every word in the stories. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys spooky stories or curious about tall tales and legends of Japan.

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