Welcome to the discussion thread for the story, The Ghostly Japanese Fireball Spirits That Live on in Pokémon. You can share your comments and thoughts about the story in the conversation below.
It’s been a while since I had anything to do with Pokemon, and that was when my then 8-year-old son (he’s 30 now) was a fanatical collector of the cards and played the Nintendo games. I was very interested in the similarities of certain Pokemon to traditional Japanese yokai, however.
One issue I have with the article:
Bloggers recognize the Shiftry, a Pokémon that resembles a maned animal with leaves for hands, as a modern-day version of tengu yōkai, a heavenly dog that wields magical fans made of leaves.
The kanji for ‘tengu’ reads as Celestial Dog, but in appearance and legend, the tengu is a bird-like demon with a long, sometimes phallic-like nose, red face, and bird’s wings. In some illustrations they have bird talons for feet, though they might also be portrayed with human feet wearing the wooden geta, as Shiftry does. Tengu supposedly carried fans that could raise the winds when they waved them. They lived in nests in trees, reinforcing the bird-like image. In later stories, they were often portrayed as sages and masters of the martial arts; legend has it that the warrior Yoshitsune learned swordfighting from a tengu he encountered in the woods surrounding the temple where he was a young acolyte.
As for the Sogen-bi and hitodama, my mother claimed that as a little girl, she saw one summer evening while playing near a river an eerie ball of light moving slowly down the opposite bank, with a long flame-like tail trailing behind it. Frightened, she ran home and told her mother, who happened to be sewing black dresses and veils for two women preparing to attend the funeral of their brother the following day. My grandmother said it was the soul of the deceased brother waiting for his family to put him to rest. He’d died suddenly, after a frightened horse kicked him in the head and fractured his skull. My paternal grandmother had a similar story about seeing a floating ball of light wandering through the house the night after an infant daughter died. She thought the baby was stuck on this earth and was waiting to be guided by O-Jizo-san into the afterlife.
Real talk: How the heck did you do an entire article on digital yōkai without mentioning Yokai Watch?