Yūrei, “Faint Spirit” (Japanese Ghost)


English: Maruyama Ôkyo (1733-1795): The Ghost ...
Image via Wikipedia

It is night. In the upper bedroom of the rented farmhouse, you lie awake against the futon pillow. You gaze up at the ceiling. For some reason, you cannot fall asleep. It’s as if your mind will not shut off. The events of the day keep playing, like a broken record, across your mind.

From the corner of your eye, you detect flickers of blue, green and purple flames just outside the sliding glass door. Your heart skips a beat when you glance in the direction of the colored flames. Standing on the narrow balcony, that rests against the side of the house, is a young man dressed in a white kimono that covers his feet. Long, black hair trails in a disheveled mass around his shoulders and down his back. On his forehead rests a white triangle of cloth. His hands dangle limply from his wrists on outstretched arms that point directly toward you. His dark eyes gaze beseeching into yours.

You grab the edge of your quilt and yank it up around your chin. Your mind cannot conceive of what your eyes see.

After the first initial shock, you wonder what has happened to trap the spirit between this world and the next and who were his relatives, that must have once lived here? He seems to have come back for their help in releasing him from his torment.

Against your better judgement, you rise and walk toward the closed, glass door. Before you can release it, the latch clicks and the door slides open, as if by magic. You find yourself standing only a few feet from the ghostly young man.

You now see a haki maki is tied around his forehead, beneath the white triangle. He whispers the word, “Kamikaze,” and you realize, he must be one of the very young who died as a “suicide boomer” in the second world war. You want to help him, but are not sure how. Nonetheless, you reach your hand toward his and smile.

More Information:

Yūrei幽霊? meaning “faint spirit” or Bōrei 亡霊, “ruined or departed spirit” is also called Yōkai 妖怪 or Obake お化け. In Japanese culture, humans have a spirit called a reikon 霊 that returns to their living family during the summer Obon Festival. If a person is murdered or commits suicide or if proper funeral rites are not preformed, they become stuck in the physical world, unable to travel to spirit world. The restless yūrei must first resolve the emotional conflict that holds it trapped between the two worlds.

The famous Ukiyo-e artist, Maruyama Ōkyo crafted “The Ghost of Oyuki”, seen in the upper right corner of this page.

References:

Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia: Yūre

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C5%ABrei

Mangajin #40: Japanese Ghosts

http://www.mangajin.com/mangajin/samplemj/ghosts/ghosts.htm

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