Okuri Hyoshigi – The “Following Wooden Clappers”

Translated from Edo Tokyo Kaii Hyakumonogatari

On the 20th day on the month of the sign of the bear, when the moon grows white and even the paper street lanterns that shine in every direction fail to brighten the gloominess of the street, rain will come with a rushing downpour.  On that day, the temple bells resound with the tones of the afterlife.

At first the cries of the nighthawks and street walkers, the sellers of soba noodles and bottled beer, of tea noodles and red-bean bread, will harmonize with the resounding bells, but these sounds will fade out and die away as the night stretches on and the people grown thin.

While trying to make your way home in the dark and the rain, covering your paper lantern with the sleeve of your raincoat to prevent it from soaking and going out, you will hear the sound of a pair of wooden clappers banging together behind you.  As you walk on, the bang of the clappers will synchronize with your footsteps and the faster you run the faster and closer the sound of the clappers will come.  This is the spirit known as the “Following Wood Clappers”.

Translator’s Note:

This print, by Utagawa Kuniteru, is called Okuri Hyoshigi (送り拍子木), and depicts one of the Honjyo Nana Fushigi (本所七不思議) meaning one of the Seven
Wonders  of Honjo
.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alice Gordenker
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 11:18:45

    Great blog, thank you. I wish I knew about it earlier, I’ll save it as resource for future articles about strange phenomenons and spooky creatures.
    Alice Gordenker
    The Japan Times.

    Reply

  2. Zack Davisson
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 15:37:19

    Thanks Alice! And I am happy to serve as a resource anytime!

    Reply

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