Yokai: Scary and Friendly Apparitions
Yokai, also known as Mononoke, and other spiritual beings: They are frightening when they suddenly appear, but can also be charming and rather cute. Why do they appear? What do they want? The Yokai send messages from the depths of forests, the darkness and the far corners of the ocean. Deities are not the only help the Japanese rely upon in times of distress and hardship. In this episode, we journey through the islands of Japan, listening to the mysterious messages of Yokai.

The Prophesying Yokai, Amabie

The mysterious Yokai Amabie has spread across Japan through social media. It is a "prophecy beast," which foretells a good harvest, a bad harvest or a plague of bad diseases. It was believed that those who drew its image and worshipped it would be saved from the plague. With the hope of warding off COVID-19, many versions of this Amabie have been created.

The Drum of Nami-Kozo

The Enshu Sea stretches 110 kilometers across Shizuoka and Aichi Prefectures, lined with sandy beaches. The waves are rough, and the sea is known for its difficult waters. There is one Yokai called "Nami-Kozo" that dwells in this sea, and has been protecting people's lives by informing them of changes in the weather with a drum-like sound. If the sound comes from the east the weather would break, if west it would be sunny, and if a high sound comes from the eastern edge, it would be a storm.

Koropokkuru: Under the Leaves of Butterbur

On the shores of Lake Akan in Hokkaido Prefecture, there is a village of about 120 indigenous people, the Ainu, where traditional Ainu customs and culture have been passed down for generations. Koropokkuru are small spirits that appear in Ainu legends. Their name means "person under the butterbur" in the Ainu language. It is said that the Koropokkuru dwelled under butterbur leaves, were gentle-natured, and would quietly leave their prey and food at Ainu homes, but never showed themselves.