As a kid of the 80s, entertainment was limited to television, radio, outdoors, the movies and books. Now being in a large family with one TV in the household and not many other children in the neighbourhood to play with, I spent some of my time reading like the Grimm’s’ Fairy Tales which were not the water down versions of today. Stories such as Godfather Death, The Wolf and The Fox and Hut in the Forest introduced me to concepts of fantasy, morals along with the struggle between good and evil. Often, I was fascinated by the types of villains the hero was up against. Now as an adult, I learned similar stories exist across the globe where heroes battling monsters to protect others. A common villain portrayed in Japanese folklore is the oni.
Mermaids appear in the folklore of many seafaring cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Africa and Asia. Tales of this mythical creature could be found dated back thousands of years ago all carrying the similar image of a beautiful young woman with the lower torso of a fish. Often, the mermaid been associated with misfortune or calamity being blamed for sea storms, ship disappearing and drowning of men. Even stories of relationships with human lovers end with tragedy. There a few legends with a darker adaptation of mermaids such as the iso onna of Japan.
Ever since I starting researching into folklore, I discovered that many myths across the planet shared some common elements. Wherever you go in the world, similar imaginary legends could be found such as dragons, vampires, ghost and gods. One dark tale to exist within most societies involves a solitary person or a hermit out in the middle of the woods that turns into a monster, a witch or some cannibal luring lost travellers into their home to consume. In Japan, folklore warns of yokai called the yamauba or mountain hag.
As a teenager back in 90s, I would indulge myself with anything containing horror be it plays, shows, or books during October. This would include all-nighters watching some of the worst of B-rated movies to the latest multi-million dollar blockbuster release. Now, I seen my share of horror films and only on a few occasions come across a video terrifying enough to get chills. One such movie I recall had a scene involved a man appearing out of a closet with no face resulting in a few enjoyable seconds of fear. Today, the name of film escapes me but remembered the time spent in trying to discover what it was. Years later with access to the Internet, I finally come to learn the creature was a Japanese yokai called the nopperabō.
A curse is a wish of misfortune, bad luck or some other hardship to befall or place about a person or object. Many folklore mention such a supernatural force could be invoked through spells, rituals, hexes and even from the divine intervention of deities. In some myths, spirits of dead may conjured curses upon those who wronged them in life. Japanese legends tell of a ghost that seeks damnation upon its enemy known as the Goryo.