::Zashiki Warashi::

Zashiki Warashi

Thought I’d give you a break from the truly spooky and give you a slightly more kawaii ghost….

Zashiki-warashi (座敷童子)

The name breaks down to zashiki, a tatami floored room, and warashi, an archaic
regional term for a child. This child-like spirit is said to inhabit the inner rooms of old houses and other
buildings. It often appears as a little girl but it can be a boy as well. Sometimes it  plays with the children of the house, but it never lets the adults see it.

To attract and maintain a zashiki-warashi in the home, it is said the spirit must be  noticed, appreciated and cared for properly, much in the manner one would raise  a child, though too much attention may drive it off. As the zashiki-warashi is  child-like in nature, it is prone to playing harmless pranks and occasionally causing mischief. They might for instance sit on a guest’s futon, turn people’s
pillows over or cause sounds similar to kagura music to be heard from rooms no one uses. Sometimes they leave little footsteps in ashes. There are different variations as to who can see the zashiki-warashi; usually this is limited to inhabitants of the house, sometimes to children

Although it is fond of mischief, the zashiki-warashi is a beneficial little spook, and houses it lives in have extremely good fortune. This fortune quickly turns to disastrously bad luck, however, if the ghost child ever leaves.

Thanks for the stories in the recent posts… keep ’em coming!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Aaron says:

    I caught your very interesting interview on ABC Radio National and followed the links on their site to here. It’s always interesting reading about other people’s experiences in Japan, and of course your art is great to look at.

    I’m afraid I can only share with you a single personal story from a few years ago when I was living in Nagoya. The roads around the main train station of Nagoya, an area called Meieki (名駅), where they intersect the train lines go through large, long tunnels, as the trains pass over head. Late at night, when the traffic finally diminishes to the occasional car, and pedestrians are all but gone, these dimly lit, echoing tunnels can be forlorn places to walk.

    One night my girlfriend and I were walking home from a night out. While merry, we certainly weren’t sloshed. We had to walk through one of these tunnels to get home. When we were half way through one such tunnel, my girlfriend suddenly stopped walking and looked behind her, gasped and broke into a half run. Trotting beside her I asked what was wrong, and made to turn my head. She stopped me with a whispered, “don’t look!” Once we had gotten home I asked her what had bitten her. She told me that when she looked behind her she saw a middle aged woman in a worn, torn kimono standing a few metres away in a pool of light emitted from one of the tunnel lights. She said the woman had been standing there smiling at us. I asked why I had been admonished not to look back, and she said if one has a second look at apparitions in the night, they will follow you home.

    The whole experience freaked me right out I must say!

  2. innocentgirl says:

    Aaron – please excuse the enormous delay in acknowledgement of your comment. Thank you so much for your story, I love the interesting anecdote that you mustn’t give apparitions a second look lest they follow you home;-)

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