Exploring Japanese Myths And Folktales, Superstitions And Language
Thersa Matsuura is an author and American expat who has lived half her life in a small fishing town in Japan. Her fluency in Japanese allows her to do research into parts of the culture – legends, folktales, and superstitions – that are little known to western audiences. A lot of what she digs up informs her stories, while the rest finds its way onto her blog (thersamatsuura.com) and into this podcast, Uncanny Japan.
In November and December Uncanny Japan had episodes that explored a Buddha many of us have encountered before but likely don’t know a lot about. The stories about Ojizo are fascinating and the practices around his veneration are bizarre.
An ojizo-sama is here to put aside his own enlightenment in order to save us all from the torments of hell. True story. He is especially partial to children, expectant mothers, firemen, travelers, pilgrims, stillborn, miscarried, and aborted babies. Do you have some kind of pain? He’s here to take that away, too.
The ojizo only wants to ease our suffering, and for that he gets tied up in ropes, doused in oil, and his head lopped off. Episode 27 of Uncanny Japan talks a little more about the ojizo statue, bringing to light some of the curious, unique, and bizarre manifestations of this beneficent deity.