Forest Bathing, Chapter 2

Forest Bathing Book Cover

(Click here for Chapter 1)

Chapter Two
Phantom Chamber

What seems false is real
what is real, is fantasy
when dreams become both.
–Tengu Riddle

Into the courtyard, Tomiko hurried beneath lace blossoms–pink, ginger and white. In the springtime garden, the trees stood like parasols over her mother and auntie. The two women rested among the other ladies, beneath the fragrant trees: plum, peach, and cherry. Lounging seemed the only reason for their visit to the sacred mountains. While the men climbed the steps of Haguro-San to pay homage at the mountaintop shrine. Into the reflecting pond, the men would toss mirrors for the women of their clan. These image symbols served to show the female’s esteem for the gods of the mountains since the women were not allowed to pay tribute for themselves.

Tomiko clicked her tongue in aggravation. It galled her that the women of her station were expected to lead such futile lives. She could never be so compliant sitting around complacent while the “men” took part in the feast of life. It was this skewed thinking that caused her to keep her outlaw thoughts and deeds, such as her trek up the forbidden mountain, hidden in her heart-of-hearts.

Sadness sat on her chest–the weight of a wounded heart. She could barely breathe for hiding it.
Hiding and keeping secrets seemed the only way to live life on her terms.

Desperate to keep her secret, Tomiko held the jade egg close to her breast, like an infant, fragile and in need of protection as she skirted close to a rock fountain that swished and gurgled near the gate.
The last thing she wanted was more questions about her decisions, right or wrong.

The sound of Mother speaking her name jarred her nerves, like the shrill of a water bird, brown and speckled that preyed near her home on the western shore near Tsuruoka Castle.  “Tomiko-san, where have you been?”

Tomiko skidded to a halt. She had no other choice, but to obey. Still, the fingers of her free hand curled into a fist as she turned to face the waggling finger that accused her.

Mother’s voice beat her name in staccato bursts like a mallet pounding the sides of a taiko drum barrel. “Tomiko Hino.” She sucked her teeth in exasperation. “Just look at you; your clothes are filthy!”

Tomiko cringed at the rolling eyes of disapproval, steeling herself for the worst to come as the tirade continued. Bending her face toward the ground, she gritted her teeth in agitation. Her stance was meant to appear as humiliation and shame. But on the inside, she seethed with frustrated anger.

Mother berated, “It cannot be too soon for you to conduct yourself as a proper wife-to-be!”

At the cutting words, Tomiko’s spine stiffened. Her head shot up, eyes glaring with unchecked defiance in Mother’s direction.

Tomiko had known Shun Sanada, her betrothed, since they were children, and had followed him wherever their adventures might lead. Tomiko had always loved Shun since she could remember. As his wife, she believed her life would not change from the freedom she now enjoyed, to that of the confining restrictions most wives of noblemen must endure.

It soothed her heart to believe that she would never have to bear the suffocating existence forced on Mother and Auntie, who sat like painted dolls on a shelf. The mere thought of such a fate clawed like death at Tomiko’s heart.

Her Auntie’s indulgent smile pulled her from the dark place where her mind had fallen. Auntie Said, “Ah, Fumiko-san let her be young while she can. There is time enough to be saddled with wifely duties.”

Auntie’s bold words forced the blood to Mother’s face. She gave her sister-in-law a stern, sidelong-glance filled with raw disapproval.

“Well, I can only imagine what Lord Sanada and his son would think if they could see her splattered with mud from head-to-toe.”

Auntie chuckled gently. “They would think, what a delightful, energetic mother she will make for strong-spirited sons and daughters.” She added without the slightest bow of her head in apology.

Tomiko bestowed a loving smile upon her Auntie. She could envision the serene lady, kimono tied up and fashioned as pants, trekking happily through a stream, or even climbing a sacred, forbidden mountain.

At the same time, an ashy whiteness spread from the roots of Mother’s dark hair to the base of her elegant neck. Her angry ravings replaced with alarm. Her quavering finger pointed toward the jade egg nestled in the scraped raw palm of Tomiko’s hand.

“Wha-what is that?” Mother’s eyes grew round as saucers. “From where did you get that?”

Auntie likewise looked askew at the strange object. “Hmm? Well…” Her gentle tone held no trace of blame, only bewilderment.

Resentment raw in her throat, Tomiko lifted her chin that much higher. “I found it. It, it is mine.” Her voice faltered. Still, she kept her gaze firm and resolute. She would rather die than yield her precious find.

Glancing down, she watched the jade-green skin of the egg suddenly fade into a robin’s speckled-blue. While its size shrank so that it nestled small as a silkworm’s spun cocoon against the lifeline crease that ran down the center of her palm.

In confused astonishment, Tomiko blinked. Her heart beat wildly. Had her eyes played tricks on her? Where had the jade egg gone? Her frantic gaze swept the ground in ever widening circles. Where, oh dear, oh dear, had it gone?

Gut-wrenching doubt swept through her mind, making her wonder if she had ever held the exquisite egg. Had she actually seen the priest on the steps leading up to the top of Haguro-San, or, for that matter, the King of the Tengu that stood before her in the haunted forest?

Panic grew as her mind swirled, making Tomiko feel suddenly sick to her stomach. On the slopes of the mountain, had she picked up an ordinary bird’s egg, deluding herself into thinking she had found some mysterious treasure?

Madness clawed at her mind. Her head ached. Too much had happened in one short morning and it was all crashing down around her.

Then a chuckle soft and quiet broke through the terror and confusion of her mind. Mother spoke, her angry tone replaced by affection.  “Oh run along, Tomiko-chan.”

Astonished, Tomiko watched a tender smile play across her mother’s face. Mother continued,  “But mind, clean yourself up!”

Tomiko stammered, “Yes, Oka-saan.”

Grateful for whatever had softened Mother’s heart, she bowed low in obedience. Then she spun around and hurried from the garden.

From behind, Mother’s strident voice echoed. “And walk like the lady that you are.”

Tomiko replied, “Yes-s-s, Oka-saan.”

Mother’s laughter echoed softly in the near distance. “What does she think to do with a robin’s egg? Brood and hatch it for the mother bird?”

Auntie giggled like a schoolgirl. “Perhaps she does.”

The irrational thought made Tomiko feel slightly unreal as if she floated rather than ran around the next corner. Safely out of sight from the garden and the prying eyes of her mother, she picked up her heels and raced toward the family’s private quarters. Skittering around another corner, she almost collided with an elderly servant. The woman’s arms piled high with clean laundry. Her old back bowed under the weight.

Tomiko tucked the egg inside a hidden pocket of her kimono, something she should have done earlier. She stopped, holding out her arms as if to assist the old woman.

Horrified, the servant ducked her head and hurried away down the corridor, muttering to herself.
A sigh of resignation whispered through Tomiko’s teeth. Why did things that were considered taboo attract her so? The daughter of a samurai master should never carry clean laundry, even in an attempt to help a bent-over, old woman that looked as if her back might break from the strain.

Exhausted both in mind and spirit, Tomiko slipped inside her room. She stepped inside, closing the rice paper door securely in place. Then she sank. Her knees pressed against the braided rice-rush floor.

From its hiding place, she pulled the changeling egg free. Jade-green once again, it lay nuzzled in the palm of her hand, just as it had when she plucked it from the ground near the stairs that led to Mount Haguro’s summit.

Weak with relief, she slumped down; her forehead bowed against the floor. Sojobo-sama, the name of the Tengu King, whispered through her mind. She rolled onto her back, holding the egg toward a trickle of sunlight that flowed through a crack above the door. Both the King and his egg had proven real enough, or else she had stepped into a dream of no return.


Darkness draped Haguro Mountain, as Tomiko lay on her sleeping mat. She gazed up toward the rafters. Transparent as fine webbing, the wooden slats melted away so that the jeweled night glittered through. Stars clung like dew drops. While a sharp tang against her tongue reminded Tomiko of salted air, though the edge of the sea washed against the shoreline of the sea, leagues in the distance. The rolling waves soothed her like a feral lullaby.

A phantom wind rattled the rice paper screens, stretched across perfect squares encased in the door face. The spectral wind swept her thoughts back to the haunted glade on Mount Haguro, and her meeting with the Tengu King.

Head pressed between damp palms; she tried to force the image of the fox spirit away as it tracked her through the underbrush. The Tengu King’s fox mistress, come to haunt and seduce her. Kitsune, a spirit creature that could transform at will into human shape. A gasp of surprise stretched Tomiko out, drowsy and content, as the fox maiden filled her mind, making her feel as if she floated somewhere above the floor.

Wrapped in veils of mists, like the ones that had surrounded King Sojobo, a man leaned over her. A glimmer of moonlight glowed softly against his cheek.

“Shun?” she whispered the name of her betrothed.

Though the man’s face stayed hidden in shadows, she could feel strong arms wrap gently around and beneath. Her breath quick and urgent, she entwined her arms around his neck, as she pulled her beloved close.

When Tomiko woke, morning light trickled past the edge of the open door, where she lay just inside the threshold. The sky above burst blue with yellow and orange light cast from the gates of the sun goddess’ sky palace. Tomiko listened to the warble of a lark, cheered by its exquisite love song.

“Shun…” Tomiko moaned, stroking fingertips across her bruised neck. The light touch ignited the earthy fragrance of pine needles that clung to her hair and robe.

Remembering something, she sat up straight, sending her confused glance around the room. It settled on the empty places where Mother and Auntie’s futon bed rolls should have reclined. Had the two women already gone to breakfast, or had they never come to sleep next to her last night?

Tomiko shifted her gaze toward the rice paper doors, opened onto the garden beyond. A smile spread slowly across her lips. Of course, the two women must have decided to spend the night with their husbands. After the wedding, she would forever spend her nights beside her beloved Shun.


Later that day, the family pilgrimage ended, and Tomiko found herself seated in the palanquin. Straddled across the muscled shoulders of its bearers, she felt the sedan chair, suspended by a single beam, move beneath her. Eyes drooping from lack of sleep, she leaned heavily against the inside wall.

Her fingers rested on the bamboo curtain. Chin propped against the window’s edge; she watched mist-shrouded Haguro. The mountain seemed to breathe, its summit filled with lungs that rose up and down in the crisp morning air. Her hungry eyes devoured the mystical village as both it and the mountain disappeared around a curve in the road. Her heart ached as if part of her soul was left clinging to the mountain’s haunted cliffs.

She slumped down in the cushioned seat, letting the bamboo curtain fall back in place. Her heavy eyelids slid shut as she drifted into sleep, so deep that not even the King of the Tengu could enter her dreams.

Copyright © 2012 by Ledia Runnels


(For all of Ledia Runnels’ published works press on the book image below.)

Tengu Prince Cover for Kindle 05252015


Forest Bathing Chapter 1

Forest Bathing Book Cover

(For a limited time, my new novelette will be available one chapter published weekly.)

 Forest Bathing

(Shinrin Yoku)


Deep into the woods

where everything is silent,

peaceful, relaxing

Chapter One

Mountain Goblin

The spring morning calls

into the haunted forest

forgotten secrets.

–Ancient Scroll

Year of the Dragon–1484

 Men had set a death kinjiru that forbade women to set foot on the sacred ground. Yet for the past eight years, Tomiko Hino crept in secret beneath the grandfather cryptomeria, the giant evergreens that covered the sloping sides of Mount Haguro.

Each spring, when the dance of the dawn goddess lured Amaterasu back from winter exile, Tomiko’s family made their pilgrimage to the smallest of the three Brother Mountains. It was Haguro where the shrine dedicated to the three gods of the mountains perched on its summit. This was the place and the time when Tomiko crept away from the other women and made her clandestine journey into the forest.

Through the dense branches that grew high above her head, shifting sunlight filtered down through the morning fog. She closed her eyes hoping to hear what the gods would tell her. All the times before, they spoke through whispers in the wind or through the chilled dampness that kissed her cheeks. But this morning they spoke through sharp, crisp snaps and pops in the crack of high branches. The sounds echoed against the whirring wing-beats of a crane in flight.

Elegant neck extended, the white bird, with black-tipped feathers, soared from the enclosure of trees toward the green canopy high above Tomiko’s head. The bird’s voice quavered like a haunting trumpet of protest. But at what was it complaining?

Near the tree where the crane took flight, Tomiko spied a Raven perched on a lower branch. Its ebony feathers glistened like emeralds in the early morning light, as if jewels shined beneath the dark pinions.

Tomiko smiled, pretending the sassy black bird could actually understand her words. She said, “Did you frighten the crane?”

Head cocked to one side, the Raven waited. Its shrewd eyes seemed to watch her. The next instant, the brute flew at her face. The tip end of one wing flicked her nose as it soared by, sending a shock wave of astonishment that rolled down her spine to quake in the pit of her stomach.

She threw up her hands, beating wildly at the Raven’s sharp beak that snapped close to her ear. Then in a swooping motion, the black bird doubled back, diving straight for her again, but this time, it grabbed onto the narrow slope of her shoulder.

Startled more than frightened, Tomiko shrank away. Fingers splayed, she shoved at the beast’s clinging claws, while the peppery scent of pine needles filled her mouth and nose, irritating her eyes.

When the Raven refused to budge, Tomiko trembled with expectation. Breath held, she waited for its sharp talons to rip into her flesh.

Her words wrapped around a suppressed scream that scraped its way up her throat. “Wha-what, who, who are you?”

Her voice squeaked. Are you an emissary to the gods?”

The Raven leaned its head close to her face as if to stare directly into her soul. Its almond-shaped eye, the color of green jade, appeared more human than fowl giving the terrifying impression of someone trapped inside the bird’s black-feathered body.

What a horrible image. Tomiko shivered, wanting desperately to scream. Only her fear of discovery by the men who climbed to the summit each day kept her silent.

Then just as suddenly as it had landed on her shoulder, the Raven lifted into the air, its earthy scent blowing into Tomiko’s face. A short distance away, the bird landed on the forest floor.

Amidst a clamor of loud squawking, erupting from the fiend’s throat, a greenish cloud formed around the Raven’s claws. The mist seemed to come from nowhere. In a matter of moments, it shifted and settled like vapors from a shaman’s spell cast in the purple dawn. Tomiko stood trembling from head-to-toe. Puffs of panic escaped with her breath while she waited, too astonished to speak or move.

Slowly the mist cleared, evaporating into thin air. In place of the Raven, a man-like creature stood instead. A circle of gold lay atop the man thing’s black hair, feathered across elfish-point ears. Its hair, like the Raven’s feathers, was flecked with glistening emerald lights. Its jewel-green eyes sparkled with mischief. A beak-shaped nose stretched above a smirk that pulled its lips upward.

Blue-black wings, with crimson tips, folded against broad shoulders. Muscled arms lay crisscrossed against the creature’s chest. Equally robust legs stretched from a human torso ending in bare claw-like feet.

Tomiko trembled. Her teeth chattered together.

In the safety of Tsuruoka Castle, her home by the Sea of Japan, Auntie had told tales of demons and mountain goblins such as this one. At the mention of the roguish imps, she had shivered with delight. Now as she faced this creature, clearly not of the world that she had known thus far, she was both exhilarated and terrified all in one breathless moment.

If she had been irreverent before, she now had a healthy dose of respect for all the unseen spirits that wavered in the air. Understanding there were times when stubborn arrogance became little more than stupidity, she lowered her eyes toward the ground. She had no wish to bring an entire army of the dreadful beings down around her.

While she stared at the dirt and moss beneath her feet, Tomiko’s thoughts spun like a whirlpool. This was truly a haunted forest, or else she had gone insane. Each time before, when she had come to the forbidden mountain, she wished for the gods to speak words of enchanted wisdom to her heart. She now began to wonder if they had sent a demon to torment her instead.

Shivering in the chilled morning air, her feet were the first to move out of their paralysis-of-terror. Not wasting another moment, she spun around in the opposite direction.

Her feet poised to flee back down toward the safety of the village. Before she could escape the shadow of the trees, invisible fingers dug into her arms, forcing her back toward the open glade where the man-thing stood.

It said, “You have nothing to fear from me, Little One.” The creature’s voice held a pleasant warble as if the man’s voice and the bird’s song mingled as one.

“I am Sojobo, King of the Tengu,” he said as his hands swept majestically around, encompassing all within sight. “Haguro Mountain is one of my homes.”

Curiosity tugged at Tomiko’s fear, giving her the courage to look at the bird man. The good-natured smirk still tugged at his sensuous lips making her flush hot with embarrassment. She quickly averted her gaze toward the scaly bark of a nearby tree, as if there was something interesting there that she must examine.

King Sojobo narrowed his eyes while cocking his head to one side. He seemed to probe her innermost thoughts. His pointing finger twitched toward her nose.

“I know you. You have come here many times before.” His grin widened. “One so young and brave could not have missed my notice.”

Tomiko drew in a deep breath to steady her voice. Still, it cracked with nervous tension when she dared to speak.

“You, you have been watching me?”

Her gaze shot warily from one side of the tree-walled clearing to the other. All the times before, she thought her movements had stayed secret.

Foolish girl, what must the King think of my boldness in coming here? She drew in a deep breath that burned in her chest and throat.

For the first time, she considered what painful retribution might feel like. Tomiko stiffened, waiting for the worst possible consequences.

To her amazement, King Sojobo doubled over with laughter.  The invisible fingers that held her fast nudged one shoulder giving it a playful pinch. The next instant, the invasive hands shoved her aside, releasing their grip so suddenly that Tomiko stumbled forward. Grabbing wildly for something to stop her fall, she tore open the palms of her hands against the rough bark of the closest tree.

She cried out, both alarmed and annoyed,  “What do you want from me?”

Her bleeding palms stung, bringing angry tears to her eyes. Warm breath stirred near her ears. The pungent scent of pine needles tickled her nose. Tomiko sneezed once, twice, three times as invisible arms folded around her.

Strong, yet gentle, they pulled her close. She hugged herself as a shield from the impertinent creature’s advances. Her fingers clenched into fists, pressed close to her sides.

Again, the infuriating smirk spread across the tengu’s face. Then he winked playfully and said, “I see you doubt my sincerity, Hino-san.”

She gasped and flinched as if someone was about to strike her across the face. He knows my name?

King Sojobo sighed, his smug face giving the pretense of sadness. He shrugged while raising his hands in what seemed like mock resignation.

“I shall cause you no further discomfort, little one.” He shook his head.” Farewell, Hino-san.

Cr-r-ruck! Cr-r-ruck! Cr-r-ruck!” The voice of the Raven sprang from his throat followed by a vortex of emerald-gold cloud that swirled up from the ground beneath the goblin’s feet.

The mist quickly consumed him, leaving only a trail of shimmering green-gold. It hung in the space where moments before he had stood. Then the sparkling substance slowly turned brittle, like tossed glitter in the wind. It dispersed in the chilled morning breeze.

A loud squawk drew Tomiko’s attention upward as the black bird disappeared through the canopy of trees. Toward the blue sky that peeked through the towering branches.

Leave. Leave now! Her mind screamed for her to react.

She spun around and ran as fast as her frantic feet would carry her. Through tangled underbrush, and around looming trees, each of her steps became a blurred dance of forward thrusts and sideways maneuvers.

Something wove a path in and out of the scrub brush that scratched her ankles with itching wounds. The pointed muzzle of a Fox peeked out from the tangled branches of a bush. Between dark green leaves and scarlet berries, the vixen kept pace with her while flicking its Nine Tailstoward her.

The arrival of the spirit made her tremble with dread so terrible she almost lost her footing. It took all Tomiko’s concentration not to trip as she zigzagged through the towering bodies of trees. In a rush, she jumped over the underbrush near her feet.

Though fox spirits served as messengers for Inari, the benevolent goddess of rice, they could also be seductive tricksters. Never a good sign, in any case.

Breath burning in her chest, Tomiko burst through the towering trees. In a clearing, she skidded to a halt beside a pagoda. Home to the five elements: earth, wind, fire, air, and the void. It towered five stories from the ground upward toward its roof that curved into the clouds.

Her next step hovered beside one of 2,445 stone steps. Men used the path. The only ones allowed to climb to the summit, where Sanshin Gosaiden Worship Hall of the Three Gods perched.

Much to her horror, one of the guardian priests of the shrine stood next to the pagoda. She recognized his attire, from others of his sect, seen from time to time in the village. His hair stood in stiff, white peaks from his head with black tips, also like the other priests. Her knees trembled at the sight of the fighting pole tucked crosswise beneath his obi belt.

As if in slow agonizing motion, he turned in her direction. Her gaze locked on his. At that moment, a terrible sense of danger trapped her in its net.

“Amaterasu!” she gasped, slumping to her knees, forehead pressed in subjugation against the damp earth.

Numb with fear, she waited for the priest’s fighting pole to crack hard against her head. It was what she deserved, of this, she knew all too clearly.

At the gruesome image, Tomiko’s stomach lurched, promising to release the breakfast of rice and sliced vegetables she had munched for breakfast earlier that morning.

The young man’s voice floated, soft on the morning breeze. “Did you see him?” The sound of it tickled her ear with its gentle, innocent tone.

She had seen no other person on the open steps, except for herself and the young priest. So to whom did the holy man speak? Surely not to a lowly female, even if she was the daughter of a warlord?

When no other voice answered him, Tomiko lifted her eyes, astonished to see the bamboo pole remained tucked at the priest’s side. She could see it there as clearly as the beautiful smile on his face.

She replied, her voice barely above a whisper, “Of who do you speak?”

The priest exclaimed, sheer delight apparent in his manner, “Why of Sojobo-sama, King of the Tengu.” A perplexed expression drew a frown between his brows. “You did see him, did you not?”

She answered, “Ye-es, I saw him.”

Still uncertain, she slowly pulled to a kneeling position. Fingers pinching nervously at the ground in front of her knees, her gaze caught in the priest’s mesmerizing eyes. Her mind stayed lost in a fog of confusion, except for the lingering image of her cracked skull.

Much to her astonishment, the young priest knelt toward the ground. Placing a hand on one knee, the holy man leaned toward her.

“It is an excellent sign, you know.” His smile broadened, crinkling the corners of his eyes. “King Sojobo does not appear to just anyone. He is a very solitary and taciturn fellow from what I hear.”

In a movement graceful as the wing beats of the crane, she had seen fly into the dawn sky, the priest took something from his robe pocket and placed it on the ground near his bent knee. He then bowed reverently toward her direction as if to the sacred Buddha.

When he rose to his feet, he smiled and said, “It is for you.” Then he turned and strolled soundlessly into the forest to disappear through a thicket of spruce trees. A moment later, the wing beats of another crane in flight broke the silence. She caught a glimpse of the bird as it rose in the distance over the stone path.

Alone near the pagoda, she looked more closely at the place where the priest had stood only moments before. To her delight and amazement, she saw a glistening jade egg cradled in tufts of grass. Scrolls of gold etched into the egg’s jeweled surface shined in the morning light. The gilded strokes seemed to pulsate and move as if alive.

Curious to a fault, the terrors she had felt earlier melted away. She scooted forward on bent knees. Unafraid, she lifted the egg to nestle it against her cheek. The throb of a heartbeat seemed to pulse through the warm shell.

Prize in hand, she jumped to her feet and ducked quickly beneath the sheltering trees. Better to be safe than sorry. No use pressing her luck. Careful and quiet as possible, she looped her way through the trees that ran along the stone steps, keeping out of sight as she aimed for the splintered gate that led to the pilgrim’s inn.

Forest Bathing is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2012 by Ledia Runnels

Go to Chapter 2

Cover images

Names: Pagoda Bridge and Path to Haguro

Place: Haguro Mountain, Tsuruoka, Japan

Author: Ledia Runnels

(Find Ledia Runnels published novels. Click the book cover below.)

Tengu Prince Cover for Kindle 05252015

Tour of Edo (Old Tokyo)

Edo Castle Entrance to TourEdo Tour

Welcome to Edo! This website is designed to give you a virtual tour of Edo, the ancient name for Japan’s present day capital Tokyo. This page is the “Home” of this website, so you can always come back here when you get lost. You can also look at the Site map on the bottom left if you are looking for something specific on this extensive website.

(Click the castle to continue…)

Magic in Japan Part 4: Shikigami

Shikigami or Shiki-no-kami  (servant spirit) come from Japanese folklore. A type of kami (spirit) that originated from Onmyōdō (the way of yin and yang) Japanese spell casting magic. Conjured by an onmyoji (spell caster) during a complex ceremony to protect and serve their masters,  much like a western witch or wizard’s familiar.  They spy, steal from, or attack their master’s enemies. The spiritual force of their master connects the shikigami to them.

They can appear as paper dolls shaped like a living creature or a low-level yokai (ghost, specter). Abe no Seimei used oni (demons, devils, ogres, trolls) as shikigami.  The spell caster can make his shiki (spirit) possess animals and people who the onmyoji can then manipulate.  On the opposite side, a conjured shikigami can gain control of a careless sorcerer’s will and kill them in revenge.


Shikigami in Popular Media:

Vol.1 - Kekkaishi.jpgKekkaishi (manga, anime, video game where shikigami appear in the form of paper dolls that follow the commands of their creator. Commonly used as clones, messengers, and workers, especially by Kekkaishi, but other ability users have been known to use them as well)

Touhou Project (video game where Ran Yakumo, a vixen (she-fox,) converts into a yokai (ghost, phantom,  supernatural monsters, and spirits in Japanese folklore) that is bound to and serves Yukari. Ran has a shikigami of her own named , Chen.

Shōnen Onmyōjivol1.jpgShōnen Onmyōji (light novel and anime where the shikigami are known as the Twelve Shinshō, considered as gods of the lower rank. They fall under the command of Abe no Seimei, the greatest onmyōji of all time. Toda/Guren/Mokkun, one of the twelve, also takes the form of an ayakashi (yokai that appear above water). Masahiro, Seimei’s grandson, considers him a mononoke (ghost). Toda assists Masahiro most of the time.

TeitoAmanoCovers.jpgTeito Monogatari (stage, manga, film, video game where shikigami, represented as shape shifters formed from parchments with the pentagram (Seiman) inscribed upon them).

InuYasha1.jpgInuyasha (manga, anime, video game where shikigami are little paper manikins that cause trouble)

NatsumeYuujinchou1.gifNatsume’s Book of Friends (manga, drama CD, anime where shikigami appear as little paper dolls that spy, track and sometimes trap yōkai and occasionally the title character for one of the series’ exorcists)

Nurarihyon no Mago Japanese Vol 1 Cover.jpgNurarihyon no Mago Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (manga, anime, video game where shikigami appear as battle spirits used as weapons by the onmyōji against the yōkai)

A young girl dressed in work clothes is standing in front of an image containing a group of pigs and the city behind her. Text below reveal the title and film credits, with the tagline to the girl's right.Spirited Away (anime where shikigami appear as a swarm of little paper dolls, attacking Chihiro’s friend, Haku.)

NegimaMagisterNegiMagi vol1 Cover.jpgMahou Sensei Negima!  (manga, anime, video game where Setsuna’s pactio, Sica Shishikushiro is a wakizashi skilled in anti-demon arts who teaches Negi how to create shikigami from paper)

Tokyo Ravens light novel vol 1.pngTokyo Ravens (light novel, manga, anime has two types: servant shikigami, spirits and living beings that serve a practitioner through a contract. Man made Shikigami, created by putting magical energy into a ‘core’ vessel, such as a paper doll, a sword or a motorcycle.

Kamisama Kiss (manga and anime where aikuchi hatches by Akura-Ou‘s magic, Mamoru, a monkey shikigami, hatched by Nanami Momozono, Monjiro is Akura-ou‘s loyal Shigikami)

Kantai Collection (manga, light novels, anime, film, audio CDs, video game where shikigami appear as aircraft carriers in human-like form)

Descendants of Darkness.jpgDescendants of Darkness (manga and anime where shinigami (soul reapers) summon shikigami as guardian spirits. When in battle in the living world, shikigami appear as various types of mythological creatures. There are different kinds of shikigami, roughly divided by the four elements, earth, wind, fire, and water. The majority of shinigami can only summon two or three shikigami. The single exception is Asato Tsuzuki, who commands the power of twelve high-ranked shikigami.)

InazumaElevenGO.jpgInazuma Eleven GO (manga,anime, and video game) where shikigami appear as paper gods that are part of a karate technique used by a goalkeeper)

Red Data Girl Novel Cover Volume 1.pngRed Data Girl (novel series, manga, anime where onmyoji uses paper and origami to call forth the shikigami)

References (besides Wikipedia, see individual link notations in Popular Media):

Mysticism, Religion, and Red Data Girl:

TVTroupe: Useful Notes?Onmyodo:


Magic in Japan Part 3 – Exorcism

A form of exorcism in Japan comes from the distribution of Taoist talismans called ofuda, gofu, or shinpu. The priest (or sorcerer) paints the Thunder Writing or Celestial Calligraphy on rectangular strips of white, yellow, or red paper; wood, cloth, or metal. The calligrapher inscribes a prayer, along with the name of a kami (a divine being or spiritual force in the Shinto religion) while using a brush made of peach wood and cinnabar pigment. Many cultures believe that red cinnabar (also called Dragon’s blood) has strong, mystical properties.



Omamori, talisman of a similar type to ofuda, come wrapped in a decorated brocade bag, contain a prayer and inscribed invocation. Ancient belief asserts that both ofuda and omamori contain the essence of a particular kami. Created for various purposes, Shinto priests use numerous mantras, mudras (hand gestures) rituals, and invocations to empower and bless the talismans.



Shinto shrines distribute both types of talisman. The one who possesses the ofuda should attach it to a door, pillar, ceiling, or inside a kamidana (house shrine). Many believe that ofuda protect the family from harm. The owner of an omamori can carry them for personal protection. For the magical defense to remain strong, the owner of the talisman should renew both ofuda and omamori yearly.

Roadside Shinto Shrine

Roadside Shinto Shrine in Nikko, Japan


Persoanl Kamidana

Kamidana 2

Kamidana displaying a shimenawa and shide


Omamori –

Ofuda –

Ofuda –

Dragon’s Blood –

Shinto Shrine –

Kamidana –

The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies & Magic

The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies & Magic


Magic in Japan Part 2 – Divination

27 signs of Shuku: Shukuyo astrology is one of the most authenticated divination methods by Chinese astrology. It's very good at reading compatibility and daily fortune.
Shukuyo Astrology is one of the representative divination methods, authenticated by Chinese astrology. It is excellent at reading [unconscious minds, abilities, and personality traits of a person]. In addition, it is also useful to read [compatibility with others] and [daily fortunes].
Do you have anyone in your mind, in either romantic or inter-personal relationships? Try this lunar reading to know the real compatibility!

Year of the Fire Monkey 2016

Monkey - Chinese Zodiac Signs

2016 (on the Chinese calendar) is a year of the Monkey, starting from February 8 (Chinese New Year), and ending on January 27, 2017 (Chinese New Year’s Eve).

What a Year of the Monkey Is

The Monkey is ninth of the 12 animals in the recurring 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. Every 12 years there is a Monkey year. (Interestingly, Monkey years are all multiples of 12 — from 12 AD, through 1200 AD, to now in 2016.)

(Continued at original article site.)