Aizuwakamatsu no Yurei – The Yurei of Aizuwakamatsu

Long ago, in the town of Aizuwakamatsu (modern day Fukushima prefecture) lived a man named Iyo lived with his wife. One night the yurei of a woman appeared in their house.

At first the dead woman—who was completely unknown to Iyo—appeared outside in the garden. She knocked on the closed door and called out the name of Iyo’s wife, who was sleeping beside him. Now, Iyo’s wife was a no-nonsense type of woman. When she heard the yurei calling her name, she shouted back “Who the hell are you and what do you want?” There was no answer other than the yurei again calling her name.

Being prepared for such a thing, Iyo’s wife reached into a special box she kept near their futon and withdrew an ofuda. The ofuda was a strip of paper, prepared by a local monk, with a charm of exorcism against ghosts. Iyo’s wife hurled the ofuda at the yurei, who disappeared like smoke blown away by a fan.

However, this yurei was not finished with Iyo and his wife. The next night she appeared in the kitchen, coming out of the fires of the burning stove. After that, she was in the garden again, walking the perimeter and pounding a bell with a wooden mallet. This went on for four days.

The wife knew when she was outmatched, and went to the local shrine to enlist the help of the kami and Buddhist spirits to protect their house. She reverently prayed to anyone who would listen, and as a result their house was quiet for the night. The yurei did not appear.

It was the eighth day since the haunting began. Apparently the protection Iyo’s wife was good for one night only. This time the woman’s yurei appeared directly in their bedroom, hovering over them near their pillows. Slowly she made her way to the foot of the bed, where she began to caress Iyo’s wife’s feet with her cold, dead hands.

That was enough for Iyo and his wife, who promptly moved out of the house. The ghostly woman remained a mystery; No one in the Iyo household had ever seen her before, or knew what she wanted, or why she had appeared.

Translator’s Note:

Another yurei story for Halloween. This one comes from Mizuki Shigeru’s Mujyara, and I have not been able to discover his source. As seen in Chikaramochi Yurei, Mizuki has no problem renaming stories when he thinks he has a better title, which can make it difficult to track down the originals. This may possibly just be a story he was told once.

This story is interesting because it illustrates one of the main trademarks of yurei (Japanese ghosts)—They want something. The people in the story may not always know what the yurei wants, and it can be something as simple as wanting to say thank you to someone that you didn’t get a chance to when you were alive (The Gratitude Expressing Yurei) to keeping a promised appointment (The Chrysanthemum Vow).

Mizuki makes a point in the story to reinforce the point that Iyo and his wife did not know the woman’s ghost nor what she wanted, which makes the haunting all the more bizarre from the Japanese perspective. Because they don’t know what she wants, they don’t know how to appease her.

(Of course, I think the wife in this story knew EXACTLY what the woman’s yurei wanted, and was just hiding it from her husband. The yurei is clearly only interested in Iyo’s unnamed wife, but her attentions seem like more of a sorrowful companion than a vengeful mistress. That makes me think Iyo’s wife was the one with the secret lover.

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