Translated and Sourced from Mizuki Shigeru’s Mujyara and Japanese Wikipedia
Long ago in the Empou period (1670 – 1683), an unusual farmer’s wife lived in a small village called Mikoharabara, which was nestled in a remote mountain valley in the province of Noshu (modern day Ishikawa prefecture).
She was unusual for several reasons. For one, she had fish scales growing under her armpits where she should have had skin. Second, her nipples were so long that she could throw them over her shoulder and feed her baby while it was still nestled on her back. Last, she was incredibly strong—it was said this farmer’s wife could do the world of 4-5 grown men, all by herself.
However, even the strongest person is not invulnerable. One winter the farmer’s wife got sick and died.
The 17th day after her death, she came back as a yurei and haunted her husband to death. No one really knew what he did to deserve her curse, but there it was. Even then, she still wasn’t satisfied. From time to time the woman’s yurei would appear in the village and frighten people and cause mischief.
Eventually, a man named Sakuzou was traveling through the mountains on business when he stopped by the village. After hearing the villagers’ stories, he wondered if there might not be a hole in her grave. This, he thought, would account for her restless spirit still haunting the village even after she had killed her husband. The villagers went to check, and sure enough there was a deep hole burrowed into her grave. Working together, the filled the hole and covered it with a large stone.
This wasn’t the solution they were hoping for though, although it did have a strange effect. The woman’s grudge transferred to Sakuzou and almost immediately she began to torment him as much as she had her husband. Under siege, Sakuzou made a pilgrimage to a nearby shrine that he knew, and borrowed a famous sword kept there. The sword was known to be a talisman against yurei with ghost-quelling powers. Sakuzou kept the sword by his side constantly, and was no longer troubled by the woman’s vengeful spirit. Satisfied that he had broken the curse, he returned the sword to the shrine
His business finished at last, Sakuzou began his journey home along the steep mountain pass. He had not walked long when he felt some strange presence coming up behind him. He had no time to react before he was lifted bodily off the grown, and thrown 10 meters over the edge of the road and into the mountain valley below. The impact rendered him unconscious, and Sakuzou lay bleeding, looking as though he had died. The farmer’s wife was apparently satisfied thinking she had killed Sakuzou, and with that her yurei vanished, never to be seen again.
Another in my Japanese ghost series for Halloween, this story comes from the Edo-period Kaidanshu Yotsu Fugoroku (四不語録; Four Recordings of Silence). The story appeared under the generic title of Onna no Yurei (女の幽霊; Female Yurei) until Mizuki Shigeru collected it and included it in his Mujyara series, where he renamed it Chikaramochi Yurei (力持ち幽霊; The Strong Ghost).
Mizuki Shigeru also adds a note saying you should be careful of women with fish scales under their armpits. They are probably already yokai to begin with.
For more Yurei tales, check out: