13 September 2014

The Real Haunted Temple

In a recent post, I told the Japanese folktale of the haunted temple.  As it turns out, the story is true . . . from a certain point of view.  There really was a monk who spent the night in the temple, who really heard sounds, and who really saw ghostly visions. 

But they were not, of course, ghosts.

The world-famous painter and artist, Tosa Mitsunobu, heard the monk's story, and went to investigate.  As it was daylight, he saw the room clearly, and he noticed  that someone had drawn figures of ghosts and horrible demons.  Through cracks in the wall, a phosphorescent mildew had grown, lighting the figures with an unearthly glow.  Settling down amidst the rat droppings that covered the floor (thus indicating that the monk was hearing rats, not ghosts), the artist began to sketch these figures, becoming one of the most celebrated artists in Japanese history.

03 September 2014

Book Contract

I have some awesome news!  My publisher and I have finalized a contract for my second book, tentatively titled Giants:  Legends and Lore of Goliaths.  I am super excited about this one, and cannot wait to keep you all posted!

27 August 2014

The Ghostly Dance

Near Fushimi stands an old, abandoned temple.  Known as the Shozenji temple, for many centuries it has been believed that the temple was occupied by hundreds - if not thousands - of spirits.  The story comes from an old vagabond priest who, needing a place to stay, sought shelter in the deserted temple one rainy evening.

The sound of the rain and wind, which usually lulled him to sleep, only kept the priest awake.  Soon, however, another sound drifted from the upper room of the temple, a sound which filled the old priest with a growing dread, for though the temple seemed unoccupied, he clearly heard the sound of shuffling feet.  Grabbing a torch, the priest said a prayer and slowly climbed the steps to the upper room.

When he got to the room, the priest let out a shriek.  There, in the darkness of the temple, were ghostly, glowing shapes of hideous demons and deformed spirits.  The priest, not wishing to encounter one of them, fled from the temple and, that very night, warned everyone in the town of his supernatural visions.

-Japanese Legend

17 August 2014

The Myth of the Obstinate Man

Once a man and his wife lost a child.  The child was only a baby, and the wife went into mourning.  As was the custom then, she was forbidden from doing any work until the period of mourning was over.  Her husband, however, did not observe the period, for he was an obstinate man.  And so, even though it was still the period of mourning, he asked his wife to sew the skin of his kayak, and repair it.

"I cannot," his wife replied.  But he persisted, and so she did as asked.  She brought the kayak to the sea and began to sew it with her needle and thread.  As she sewed, the needle and thread began to make a queer sound, which grew louder and louder until it filled the air.  A great monster came up out of the sea.

"Why do you labor?" it roared.  "Are you not in mourning?"

The woman beheld the dog-like monster, and grew afraid.  "My husband has required me to work," she said.  Upon hearing this, the monster leaped from the sea and tried to kill the obstinate man, but the man overpowered the monster and killed it.

A voice roared from the heavens, "Why have you done this?"  And suddenly the Moon Man, whose dog was killed, stood there.  Without waiting for an answer, he fell upon the man and tried to kill him, but the obstinate man grabbed the Moon Man by the throat and would have killed him had not the Moon Man shouted out, "If you kill me, there will be no more light!"

The obstinate man let go of the Moon Man, for he did not want to dwell in darkness forever.  Upon being freed, the Moon Man brought his sea-dog back to life, and then took the other dogs of his sledge team and threw them into the air.  He climbed aboard his sledge and prepared to ascend back into the heavens, when the obstinate man asked him, "How may I visit you in the heavens?"

The Moon Man told him to lighten his sledge team, and to ascend into the heavens in the very same manner in which he prepared to ascend.  "But you must not go around the bright side of the rock," he said, "or you will lose your heart."  Then he left.

The next morning, the obstinate man took his sledge team and washed them in the ocean.  Then he hitched them to his sledge and ascended into the sky.  As he approached the rock, however, he became obstinate and decided to go around the bright side of the rock.  On that side was an old woman honing her knife, and as the obstinate man passed by, she cut out his heart.  He arrived in the heavens cold and unfeeling, and so the Moon Man had to retrieve the man's heart and put it back in his chest.  

Then the obstinate man left the Moon Man's house, and returned to his home.  After that time, he was no longer obstinate.

- From the Inuit Peoples of Alaska