Cruel Attack at a Inari Shrine—Four Statues Broken at Kego Shrine in Tenjin, Fukuoka

Broken Inari Statue

Translated from: http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/photo/show/102187

April 25, 2015 (Updated April 26, 2015)

At about 1 AM on the morning of the 25th, in 2Chome, Tenjin ward, Fukuoka City, four stone fox statues were found broken on the grounds of Kego Shrine. The police station made a check for other property damage. The statues were pushed off their bases and their heads broken off. So far, no tools or implements have been found that may have been used in the crime. There are no suspects.

According to a patrolman, the four statues were located at the main shrine at the south entrance of the temple grounds. This deity of the shine is the “Goddess Inari of Profits and Gains” The statues were approximately 1.2 – 1.5 meters in height. It is thought the heads were broken off before they were pushed off their bases. They were discovered by a temple volunteer walking the perimeter.

Headless Inari Statue

According to the police, temples and shrines in Nara and Kyoto have been desecrated by someone splashing an oil-like substance on the shrines. It is not known if the two attacks are related.

The statues were carved by Kunihiro Seiho (76) and his father. They dedicated the statues in thanks of a long and healthy life of good work. Seiho was enraged, saying “I would visit the statues once a month. They mattered. Why would anyone do something like this? I can’t understand at all.”

Translator’s Note:

I’ve never put up a newspaper article here before, but there seemed to be a lot of interest in this so I thought I would! A terrible act of vandalism.

Ashinonai Yūrei (足のない幽霊) – The Footless Yūrei

Female Ghost by Kunisada (1852)

To learn much more about Japanese Ghosts, check out my book Yurei: The Japanese Ghost

The gentle drops of falling rain. A lonely willow tree standing near a graveyard. And a Japanese ghost, called a yūrei, waiting below. This is our image of a yūrei, and when we imagine this picture of the yūrei, it has no feet. But why?

When yūrei are compared to the ghosts of neighboring countries like China and Korea, it is the ashinonai, or footless, aspect that is considered uniquely Japanese. Chinese ghosts wear a similar burial costume, but they saunter about on ghostly feet rather than float above nothingness like their Japanese cousins.

…and yet, it cannot be said that all yūrei are footless. You can often hear the sounds of ghostly footsteps in older kaidan stories. In the popular kaidan Botan Doro the arrival of the yūrei Otsuyu is announced by the karan, koron of her wooden geta sandles. And in Noh theater, many of the ghostly characters sport magnificent footware. Ashinonai Yūrei did not appear until later.

The origin of the ashinonai yūrei image is usually attributed to The Ghost of Oyuki, however the earliest known depiction appeared sixty years before Maruyama Ōkyo’s birth.

Quarrel_between_the_Empresses_of_Retired_Emperor_Kazan

An unknown artist drew a footless yūrei in the picture-book of the puppet play Kasannoin Kisakiarasou (1673; Quarrel Between the Empresses of Retired Emperor Kazan). The picture is just a small sketch in the upper-left corner of the page, but it clearly shows the vengeance-seeking yūrei Fujitsubo as a footless apparition. Another book from the same era, called Shiryō Gedatsu Monogatari (1690; The Story of the Salvation of a Ghost) also features a small image of a footless yūrei. It is not known whether Ōkyo would have seen either of these works.

Speculation on the reason behind footless yūrei falls into a few main camps. One school of thought is that clouds were considered traditional vehicles of transportation for deities and ascended beings in Japan. It was said that these yūrei were being whisked around by clouds, but with the clouds not completely drawn in and only covering the feet. Another, more grim speculation is that the artists were influenced by a Chinese holy text called Juuou-e that says souls judged to be carrying sin in the afterlife will have their legs hacked off by demons and must crawl on stumps through the afterlife.

Other, more romantic ideas have been proposed. In his book Nihon no Yūrei, Keio University professor Ikeda Yasaburo suggested that Maruyama Ōkyo was inspired by the haze of incense smoke rising into the sky, and drew his yūrei as if they were half composed of this smoke. Others say that Ōkyo painted The Ghost of Oyuki from memory, and that the image represents his lover sneaking off to the bathroom at night, her bottom half hidden in the dim candlelight. Yet another unrelated theory says that ashinonai yūrei originate from Bunraku puppet theater, where long robes hide the feet of female puppets and the hands of puppeteers.

It is most likely that a combination of these explanations is true. Whatever the reason, while the white face and wild hair of Edo period yūrei are still very apparent today, this absence of feet has not survived into the modern age. Only a few films, such as the 1995 Picture Bride, are still careful to retain this detail. For the most part the ashinonai yūrei is a creature of the past.

Picture_Bride_Movie

Translator’s Note:

One of the cold hard truths of publishing a book is page count. More pages = more costs, and sometimes you just have to trim! That means that several sidebars that were planned to go into Yurei: The Japanese Ghost had to get cut. But that’s OK! Because I can still share them here!

I am happy to report that Yurei: The Japanese Ghost is officially at the printers. We should be getting a proof copy soon, and if all goes well then the book will be ready to be printed and delivered!

Thanks again to everyone for your support and patience!

Happy 93rd Birthday Mizuki Shigeru!!!

Mizuki Shigeru Happy Face

 

Mizuki Shigeru is 93 years old today! And if you don’t know who that is, you have been reading the wrong website! He is the man responsible for this websites existence, and for most of the world’s enthusiasm for yokai and Japanese folklore.

And he happens to be one of the coolest guys alive.

Mizuki_Shigeru_Yokai_Mobile

I’ve been writing these birthday greetings for a few years now, and I am always happy when I get to write another. I have gone into Mizuki’s history and importance in Japanese society on several occasions. If you aren’t familiar with this great genius, spend some time reading up on him and seeing why I adore him so much!

Mizuki Shigeru’s French Fry Heaven

Happy 91st Birthday Mizuki Shigeru

Happy 92nd Birthday Mizuki Shigeru

Mizuki Shigeru in Rabaul

Shigeru Mizuki’s The Dunwich Horror

Needless to say, there are few people who have had such a dramatic influence on their native culture. People like Walt Disney, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Osamu Tezuka (Yes, these are all comic book people, but I am a comic book person myself, so you’ll have to forgive me)–they are enough to count on one hand. One of the joys of Shigeru Mizuki is that he is still alive, and we are able to appreciate his work–and show our appreciation–while he is around to enjoy it.  Too often we discover people’s importance posthumously.

Another aspect of Shigeru Mizuki that I love is just how human he is. Someone of his stature and level of honor and respect could demand that people genuflect before him, that he be presented as some sort of living idol or even a type of character from one of his own stories. But with his autobiographical accounts of his own life, and the pictures he posts on his Twitter account, Shigeru Mizuki shows himself as a person without pretension.

chocc

I am also very proud of the work that I have done with Drawn & Quarterly in bringing Mizuki’s work to an English-speaking audience. When I first started, there were three Mizuki comics in print. Now there are six, soon to be nine, and with many more on the way.

Some of my favorite Mizuki translations I have done will appear in the Drawn & Quarterly 25th Anniversary book. There are several brilliant Mizuki works, the kind not ever seen in English before, separate from both Kitaro and his autobiographical work. I applaud Drawn & Quarterly for wanting to show so many sides of Mizuki as an artists.

Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels

DQ25 Anniversary

As well as a brilliant biography of this guy right here:

Shigeru Mizuki’s Hitler

Shigeru Mizuki Hitler

And the final volume of Showa: A History of Japan:

Showa 1953-1989: A History of Japan (Showa: A History of Japan)

Showa_History_of_Japan_1953_1989

And lots more to come! I promise that if you keep reading, we will keep bringing you the works of this wonderful, weird, brilliant human being! And I am looking forward to posting next year celebrating his 94th birthday!

Dream on, beautiful dreamer! (Now somebody buy that man a hamburger!)

shigeru

Goshiki Fudo – The Five Fudo Temples of Tokyo

Sourced from Japanese Wikipedia, OnMarkProductions, Hamadayori.com, and Other Sources

Goshiki Fudo Statue

To learn much more about Japanese Ghosts, check out my book Yurei: The Japanese Ghost

Five temples stand guard at strategic stations around the city of Tokyo, each at different points on a pentagram. Inside these five temples are five statues of the god Fudo; each statue has eyes of a different color, completing a magical circle of protection that guards the city from harm and ensures its prosperity. This mystical circuit is called the Goshiki Fudo—the Five Fudo Temples—and still protects Tokyo to this day.

Or is it all a lie?

What Does Goshiki Fudo Mean?

The kanji for Goshiki Fudo (五色不動) is simple—it translates as Five-Colored Fudo. The number five itself is significant. It comes from Buddhist traditions, where sequences of five are considered sacred, such as the Five Buddhas (五佛; gobutsu) or the Five Wisdoms (五知; gochi). These in turn are based on the idea of the Five Senses (五識; goshiki) and the theory of the Five Elements (五行; gogyō).

(Most of this section is sourced from the brilliant OnMarkProductions. Check out his site for a much more in-depth look at the number five in Buddhism—and everything else.)

The five colors (五色; goshiki) are associated with the five elements and the five directions. There are different combinations of colors depending on what sect of Buddhism you belong to (and maybe even a secret sixth color if you are a mystical type).

One of the most common sets is:

  1. Blue = East, Green (compound color), Spring, Wood, Meditation
  2. Red = South, Scarlet (compound color), Summer, Fire, Zeal
  3. White = West, Crimson (compound color), Autumn, Wind, Faith
  4. Black = North, Purple (compound color), Winter, Water, Wisdom
  5. Yellow = Center, Brown (compound color), Earth, Memory

These five colors were used for all sorts of magical items, such as the Five-Colored Cords (五色の糸; goshiki no ito) used for rituals in the Heian period, or the Five-Colored Water (五色水; goshiki sui) ceremony held in some temples to commemorate the historical Buddha’s birthday.

There are more examples, but the gist is this—put those five colors together and you are talking some serious magic.

For the remaining kanji, you have the god Fudo (不動), whose name translates literally as “unmovable.” He is a particularly cool god. Fudo looks like an oni with his fierce visage, proudly upheld sword, and flaming throne. There’s really too much to be said about Fudo to go into it here, but suffice it to say if you were going to pick a god to defend your city in a magical circle of protection, Fudo is a good god to gamble on.

Blue Fudo

The Legend

According to legend, in the early 17th century the new shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu asked the abbot Tenkai to establish a mystical circle of protection for Edo, the new capital of Japan. To complete his task, Tenkai drew a symbol of the onmyōji—a 5-pointed star—around the city. He consecrated each point of the star with a temple. Inside each temple was a statue the god of Fudo, each with a different eye color. The statues combined to bind the power of the five sacred colors and provide the desired mystical protection.

The Facts

The facts are far less fun.

The Goshiki Fudo does not exist. If you look at a map, the designated the temples don’t make a pentagram, except in the most imaginative sense. There aren’t even five temples. And on top of that all the Goshiki Fudo temples are conveniently located along the central Yamanote train line that circles Tokyo.

Meguro Station

Meguro Train Station from this site.

That’s right; the legend is a tourist trap, with little historical basis.

The oldest known mentions of the Goshiki Fudo comes from the Meiji period. Apparently there is some connection to a mystery novel that was popular at the time. The story used the idea of the five-temple circle of protection as a plot device. The details are tenuous and I wasn’t able to track down the actual name of the novel, but most sources agree that this is where the legend began (or perhaps this mysterious book is a legend itself?). The legend grew from the popularity of the book, and people just assumed that the locations were real.

Goshiki Fudo Map

Map of the Goshiki Fudo from this site.

Just as every year tourists flood London seeking 221B Baker Street in a quest for Sherlock Holmes’s apartment, and Platform 2 ¾ to catch the train to Hogwarts, during the Meiji period people heard of these magical five temples and went in search of them. As we will see below, the Black Eye and White Eye temples were easy enough to find, but the other ones were a little bit harder—due to the fact that they didn’t exist. With all those tourist dollars up for grabs, it didn’t take long for entrepreneurs to turn these fictional locations into reality.

Enterprising priests were quick to take advantage of the legend-seekers and started to declare themselves the home of the missing three Fudo. They painted the eyes of their statues to match the legends and try to draw in the crowds.

The end result is that you get multiple locations, all vying for authenticity. Finally, these settled into the six temples known today, with at least two temples claiming to be the authentic “Yellow Eye.” In reality, with the exception of the Black and White Eyes, all of the statues can be traced to around the 1880s.

The Five (I mean Six!) Temples of Fudo

The Goshiki Fudo Statues

Image of the six Fudo statues from this site.

At least two Goshiki Fudo locations appear to be genuine: Ryosen-ji and Konjyo-in, known also as Meguro (目黒; black eye) and Mejiro (目白; white eye).

The temple Ryosen-ji dates back to the 9th century, and has an ancient black-eyed statue of Fudo known by the name Meguro Fudo (Black-eyed Fudo). This is the only authentic Fudo statue in the set. The Yamanote line train stop for this area of Tokyo is also called Meguro, and is a name most Tokyoites are familiar with.

Meguro Temple

Another train stop down the line is called Mejiro. While this is read as White Eye (目白), the area is named after a type of bird—the zosterops japonicus AKA Japanese White-Eye—and not a Fudo statue. However there is a nearby temple, Konjyo-in, that dates back to the 16th century. Like many temples, Konjyo-in has a Fudo statue. Over the years, people noticed the Black Eye/White Eye dichotomy and their imagination made a connection.

During the Edo period, there was some vague mention of the “Three Fudos,” of which the Black- and White-Eye Fudos may be connected. The Meaka (Red Eye) is usually considered as the third candidate for the triumvirate, but there are several thousand Fudo statues in temples around Tokyo and nobody really knows for sure. There is also mentions of statues of the Four Deva Kings (known as the Nio in Japanese) positioned to protect Edo. Along with the mystery story, these have probably morphed into the modern Goshiki Fudo legend.

Goshiki Fudo Blue Eyes

The Red-Eyed Fudo from this site, which has more pictures

The current declared temples are:

  • Meguro (目黒;Black Eye) – Ryosen-ji (Spring Waterfall Temple) – Dating from 808 AD
  • Mejiro (目白;White Eye) – Konjyo-in (Parliament of the Power of Money) – Dating from 1594
  • Meaka (目赤;Red Eye) – Nankoku-ji (South Valley Temple) – Dating from 1616. – Claims to be associated with Red-Eyed Fudo from 1788. Fudo statue and temple burned in WWII. Reconstructed in 1985. Relocated in 2011, with old temple grounds turned into a parking lot.
  • Meao (目青;Blue Eye) – Saisho-ji (Great Victory Temple) – Dating from 1882, built over the top of a previously ruined temple. Blue-Eyed Fudo statue installed as part of construction.
  • Meki (目黄;Yellow Eye) – Eikyu-ji (Eternity Temple) – Dating from 1880, Constructed with Yellow-Eyed Fudo installed as part of construction. The book Kanto no Fudosan to Shinko identifies this as the true Meki.
  • Meki (目黄;Yellow Eye) – Saisho-ji (Great Victory Temple) – Same name as Meao, but unrelated. Dating to 860. Moved to Hirai ward in 1912. Exact date of association with Goshiki Fudo unknown.

There are still others that claim to be authentic. Ryugan-ji, for example, claimed to be the real Meki in 1930, but no one is really buying it and it rarely makes it on the tourist maps. There are others as well, but none of note.

The SkyTree Building

Tokyo SkyTree

Image from the Tokyo Times site

Real or not, many still believe in the power of the Goshiki Fudo. Like other mythical locations of dubious heritage, the legend has become the fact—enough to where some in Tokyo actually worry about disrupting the magical circle. Most notably in the case of the SkyTree Building.

Built in 2010 and completed in 2012, the building’s official name is Tokyo SkyTree, which was chosen as part of a naming contest. When the 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, people went looking for answers and some laid the blame (perhaps egged on by the slightly mad governor of Tokyo, Ishihara Shintaro) on SkyTree breaking the power of the Goshiki Fudo.

According to legend, the Goshiki Fudo was established to protect Edo against the north. In geomancy, the northern direction is called the Gimon or Demon Gate and is considered unlucky. Tokyo SkyTree was built in the North, which was rare for sizable Japanese buildings. Some Feng Shui practitioners say its shape resembles a Poison Needle, drawing the unlucky power of the North down into the soil of Tokyo. Some modern spiritualists further say that the Tokyo SkyTree building is constructed over a Ley Line, disrupting its flow of power into Tokyo.

To the contrary, the building’s designers claim the Tokyo SkyTree is a Gorin-to—a 5-Story Pagoda—and thus adds extra protection against the unlucky northern direction.

Neither advocates nor distractors can quite explain how the Goshiki Fudo failed to protect against neither the 1923 Great Kano Earthquake nor the WWII firebombing of Tokyo long before the building of the disruptive SkyTree.

Translator’s Note

This started out as a simple research question for Wayward, but ended up in a deep exploration of the true nature of the Goshiki Fudo. It was a trail that lead to a somewhat disappointing end, mainly because I prefer to believe in the magical and mystical. However, the tourist trap nature of the Goshiki Fudo was inescapable. But then I wondered if that even mattered. After all, it is often the belief that creates the reality, not the reality that creates the belief.

The fact that it was originally devised as a tourist trap doesn’t stop people from believing in its power. The symbolism and story is more important than history. Thousands visit the Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto every year, even though it was only built in 1955 and finished in 1987. They pay homage to the graves of the 47 Ronin, even though that is a tourist trap as well. The sites serve more as a focus of belief and cultural heritage–a way to reinforce what it means to be “Japanese”—than as some record of history.

It is no different from Christians going on pilgrimages to see holy icons. They aren’t “real.” Any amount of research reveals that they were tourist traps, from the Shroud of Turin to pieces of the True Cross. But that doesn’t affect the honest emotions they summon up for believers.

Or for that matter American pilgrims going to see the Liberty Bell. The fact that it could not possibly have been rung on July 4th, 1776 (as the legend goes) does not mean that the story isn’t good, or prevent it from being a powerful symbol of the country. Every country has similar venerated forgeries. The Wallace Sword on display in Scotland mostly likely did not actually belong to William Wallace.

And when I was in London, I went to 221 Baker Street to see the home of Sherlock Holmes. I knew it was pure fiction, but that didn’t dampen the feeling that I was standing in the home of the Great Detective.

After all, as a wise man once said “When the legend becomes the fact, print the legend.”

Update on Yūrei: The Japanese Ghost

Yurei_Japanese_Ghost_Cover

First off, my deepest gratitude to everyone who preordered my book Yūrei: The Japanese Ghost. It really means everything to me to have your support. And equally my sincerest apologies on the continual delays. The most disappointing part of this whole process is knowing I have let you down, and lost some of your confidence. I know from personal experience how frustrating it can be to see books fall from publication date and continually be delayed.

I met with my publisher recently and we created a schedule to get the book back on track, aiming for an early 2015 publication date in either January or February. I feel confident that this is a target we can hit.

Without going into too many background details, the cause for the delays was due to several factors. We were operating under a tight schedule to try and hit an October publication date and hopefully pick up some Halloween boost from booksellers. In order to hit that deadline, everything would have needed to be absolutely perfect with no margin of error. Unfortunately, that means we skipped some steps in our rush that only caused further delays down the road instead of speeding up the process.

On top of that, the book designer we hired delivered a book that was totally out of synch with the style of my writing and what I was trying to accomplish. It was more “Pop culture” and less “Classic” than I was aiming for. With that, we had a hard decision to make which was to trash the current design and got back to the drawing board; look for a book designer that could do something more in line with my sensibilities—a move that would cost both time and money—or just publish the book as-is in order to meet our deadlines and have a book on the market.

Ultimately, I decided it was more important to me to think long term instead of short term, and to delay the book by several months in order to have a book I could be proud of for years to come. My publisher has supported me on this, for which I am very grateful even though we are losing money for every month the book is delayed. Ultimately, we decided the integrity of the book is more important than the money, which is probably not a decision that a larger publisher would have made.

The new book designer is brilliant and exactly in line with what I want to achieve. I feel very confident about the direction the book is heading. Things are moving along, and you can expect to see a really wonderful book at the start of the new year.

Again, thank you for your continued support, and my sincerest apologies for the delays. In the modern publishing world, with a first-time author working with a small press publisher, every single reader is extremely important and appreciated. Yūrei: The Japanese Ghost just needed a little more time in the oven than we imagined, and I am sure you will all appreciate the final efforts even more.

(And if you haven’t yet, PLEASE consider preordering my book Yurei: The Japanese Ghost! Every single order is HUGELY important (more than you could possibly know. Trust me on this!) and I promise that the book really is coming out soon! And it will be worth the wait!)

Previous Older Entries

Copyright notification

All translations and other writing on this website were created by Zack Davisson and are copyright to him.

Copyright notification

In accessing these web pages, you agree that any downloading of content is for personal, non-commercial reference only.

No part of this web site may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of Zack Davisson.

Copyright notification

For rights clearance please contact Zack at:

zack.davisson (at) gmail.com

Thank you.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,009 other followers

%d bloggers like this: