Summer is the "Ghosts" season in Japan
Do you know that there are lots of "ghosts" in Japan?
Waku WakuPublished on 06 Aug 2020, 12:00
Summer starts from June to August in Japan, and the heat continues day after day.
This time is probably the most favorable season of the year because of summer vacation for a long trip or long-term break from school for students.
Many people are looking forward to summer, but in Japan, this time of the year is also known as "ghost's season".
In this article, we will tell you why it is said that summer is the season of ghosts, and what kind of goblins or ghosts there are in Japan as well as typical recreation related to Japanese ghosts.
1. Why is summer the season of ghosts in Japan?
In Japan, the period from 13th to 16th August is called as "Obon", where the spirit of the ancestors comes back to visit their descendants. Thus, people prepare for their arrival by creating a horse shape by cucumbers and a cow shape by eggplants as vehicles to welcome them.
However, it is considered that not only the spirits of the ancestors would return but also the spirits with grudge would come back to the world in this period. This soul is considered to be belonged to those who died with a desire for revenge, and it is now said as "ghosts".
At the beginning of the 19th century, a play about ghost story was performed. But this was based on the idea that hearing scary stories makes feeling cool, so it was suitable for hot summer.
This is the reason why summer in Japan is considered to be the season of ghosts.
2. What kind of ghosts are there in Japan?
In Japanese, Obake (お化け) is usually translated as "ghosts" but it basically contains two different kinds.
The first one is a mysterious creature other than people and animals called "Youkai" (specter), another is the spirit of people who died with grudges (spirit).
Youkai has existed since ancient Japan and has been believed to invite misfortune such as natural disasters, diseases or it also kidnaps people.
The famous Youkai are "Oni", "Kappa" and "Tengu".
The history of Youkai is from ancient times, their stories have been spread among people around the 8th century.
At the beginning of the 19th century, not only Youkai related plays but also plays of ghost stories were started to perform.
As mentioned earlier, it is considered that hearing scary story help you feel cooler in summer, thus, such plays seemed to be popular those time.
For example, the stories about a woman who died because of her husband’s betrayal, or a woman who died after being accused of a crime, were quite famous to tell.
3. What is the recreation of ghosts?
There are some particular recreations related to ghosts in Japan.
A game called "Kimodameshi" is that people go to eerie places such as cemeteries, forest, or haunted houses at night to test their courage.
This has been taken place as the most popular nighttime activity for young people at schools, clubs, or summer camps.
Not only challenging themselves, but also they play as ghost to make other challengers scared during the game.
Although this "Kimodameshi" was a fun activity for students in summer break, it has become more difficult to hold it because of security or privacy reasons nowadays.
This article has explained briefly about Japanese ghosts. The history of Japanese ghosts (specter and spirit) is significantly long, so there are still many kinds and interesting background.
At the end of the 19th century, a Greek-born journalist, Patrick Lafcadio Hearn came to Japan. He was fascinated with Japanese ghosts, and he published a book called "Kwaidan" which was summarized Japanese ghosts. Later, he obtained Japanese citizenship.
If you are interested in this book, please also try to read it this summer!
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