– the cleaning onibaba of unneat street

The rokurokubi makes an entrance at about the 3.11 mark.

Two Paul Kelly’s on my mind at the moment. I don’t think I have links to either. It’s just the first few lyrics –

After the show,
Where will we go,
I wanna go Downtown.
Don’t wanna go, Uptown no more…

I’m thinking of that one more for the little humpty-diddily tune it had. Quirky and qwerty in that Kelly’s a pretty literate man. I think it was originally on Post, but I heard it on Gossip. Actually, after just going over to Robin Bell Books I see that it is available in the downloads under ‘A’.

The second one:

Somebody’s forgetting somebody,
Somebody’s letting somebody down

(There is no link to the actual music (free link) that I can find, but here is a link to the lyrics).

Look, it’s written into pop and rock lore that the worst kind of sentiment can be expressed with the best kind of music. And we go (or I go) YEAH, it’s always someone else’s fault! Because it is, always. Except saving the world. I should have figured out how to do that by now, but I have failed miserably.

* Note, since this post was written, Paul Kelly has released the ‘S’ free downloads. You can get them at Robin Bell books.

The next step in this fable of mine, for that is what it is, and though nary a frog nor fox have shown hide nor hair of warty skin nor bushy tail,  and though it rambles mightily, the next step are the obakemono and I promise you the writing gets somewhat tighter and the story goes somewhere.

In Japanese, O is a prefix denoting respect, and bakemono literally means a changed thing – something perverted and altered and moved beyond its natural state – a monster.

To most Western eyes, traditional Japan is a serene veneer of stoic samurai, porcelain-skinned geisha, Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms. It seems like the last place you’d look for things bizarre, grotesque, and morbid. And yet the Japanese archipelago is home to as rich a tradition of goblins, ghouls, and monsters as you’ll find anywhere on Earth. Imported from the mainland along with Buddhism or Chinese culture, or springing from fertile local imaginations and ancient animistic traditions, this impressive array of animated objects, transformed animals, ogres, demons, and human freaks is known collectively known as yōkai (yoh-kye), or bakemono (bah-keh-mo-no). They feature in countless folktales, prints, and paintings, often rendered with as much humor as horror, a troupe of beasts as charming as they are terrifying.

I love the obakemono, the yokai, from the one-legged, geta-wearing umbrella (karakasa),



to the tofu boy (a spirit child carrying a block of tofu,




That link (now missing since the great blog-deletion of September) is a Japanese to English translation about why tofu-boy is so threatening (not). If I ever find my yokai book again, I’ll hunt out an English to English version for you. I think the fact is that the tofu is very soft and if you happen to kind of rub against it, you will grow mouldy and rot away.

To a mobile wall that just kind of moves in front of you blocking your way, extending for forever (Nurikabe), Nurikabe. 


To the rather scary



long-necked rokurokubi.
to the akaname demon (filth licker) that licks the grime and the filth from the bathroom (but only appears, of course, if the bathroom is filthy;


Akaname, art work by Patrick Gannon

those who are looking for an easy way to clean their bathrooms BEFORE it gets filthy, no such luck.
There is a demon for every reason and every season. In addition to demons, there is also an attachment to other inanimate objects such as dolls. It is a reason, actually, why there is a burning of the dolls festival every year at Meiji Shrine in Ueno Park, and other places. And why at other temples and shrines dolls are taken in and looked after once they have served their purpose.

After her husband died, one woman wanted to discard of a pair of Ehime dolls, quite beautiful, that had been given as a wedding present:

“It’s been on my mind, but I couldn’t just throw them away, because that would bring divine punishment,” said Okamoto, now 69 years old. “I’d wanted to have them prayed for, but I didn’t know where to take them.”

Last rites for the memories as beloved dolls pass away“, By Setsuko Kamiya, Japan Times, October 15, 2006.

doll burning ceremony

Doll Burning Ceremony

Which explains why my mango juice went missing.

From this long Wikipedia list, I can’t find just which demon shifts things from place to place and later returns them, but I’m sure it exists and has been written or at least talked about in tales of yore. The Demon of laziness also means that I didn’t read all of the list, nor thoroughly search the topic on the  Internet, either. See, always someone else’s fault.

I have a book full of yokai, actually, but I’m sure the yokai have hidden that too. Just like they did with my mango juice. Japan’s summer is humid and sultry. I have lived and experienced more humid and sultrier, but that’s not to say I don’t appreciate a can of ice-cold mango juice when I can get one. The night before the can of mango juice disappeared into the ether, I’d gone to a Thai restaurant with my colleagues.

After hurriedly having a bath at the health club (no time for a sauna), naughtily lifting my bicycle over the barriers in the middle of the still-under-construction road (foreigners are so irresponsible), scratching up my ankles with the wet grass and no doubt scaring the well hidden sidewinders; after regaling my workmates with stories of penguins, emus, and seahorses it was time to go home. Oh, I ate too.


Three beers down I was a little tipsy. I bought a mango juice for me and one for my colleague’s wife as I know she loves it. I cycled home in the rain after remembering that I’d left my key and phone in the restaurant. Seeing as my bicycle was locked, there wasn’t a huge annoying period of time in between the discovery and recovery of my lost items. It may have been  a reflection of my befuddlement, though, which spilled over into the next day.

We’d been teaching high school kids, which isn’t really our stock in trade. Fun, but exhausting. By the time I returned home from my hard day at the educational coalface, my fugue was almost complete. All encompassing, anyway. I was so looking forward to that juice. In my mind’s eye it was the magic elixir which could relieve all the aches and pains, mental and otherwise, incurred during a humid and taxing day.

After throwing my bags near the front door (inside), I hot-footed it to the fridge and pulled out the drink. I then put some other drinks in the fridge. I pulled out all the eggplants and cucumbers that I hadn’t used and which were working their way into a state that would have the Akaname rejoicing, if it did white-goods rather than bathtubs.  Bundled all this up, put it in the rubbish ready for collection the following day.  Was I ever looking forward to that mango juice. But you know, just like M Scott Peck and Anais Nin said* delaying gratification can make the end product all the more delightful.

It’s from Thailand, I think, and in a steel can, so it’s best if it’s poured into a glass. The steel gives a slight metallic taste and it’s really viscous so that drinking from the can cannot do it justice. I got the glass ready. I opened up my windows, to let in a little bit of air, if there was any stirring outside. Switched on the computer, put on a wash. All the kind of stuff I do when I first get home. Then, I went for my juice.


I looked on top of the fridge, I looked on the sink, I looked in the laundry, I looked by my door, I looked on the desk where I write, and eat and use the computer (which is a mess), then I looked again, and again. I looked in the tatami room and I looked on top of the fridge. I looked in the cupboard, I looked in the plastic trays that hold the pasta. I looked where the crockery and glassware (the 6 dusty pieces or so) are kept.


I looked by the door, I looked on the table, I looked in my room, I looked in the laundry, I looked on top of the fridge. I checked the rubbish, of course, to see that I had not inadvertently thrown it in there along with the slimy eggplants and cucumbers.

I had to give up.

I figured it was going to go the way of that twenty dollars that you leave in your winter coat and find 6 months later. One day in the future, pining for a nice hot cup of cocoa, and having misplaced the powder, I knew I would find it.

Now – sometimes things just don’t appear, and I am very forgetful, so it does me no good to get too upset, though I was pissed off, and I thanked my lucky stars that it wasn’t prawns that had disappeared.

I opened another type of drink (lemon), which was okay, but definitely second best, did a bit of writing. I was worn out, so I had an afternoon nap. Later that day when I usually would have been swimming, my neighbour dropped by. She had some vegetables for me. She and her husband and their baby were travelling the following day, heading to Korea and the Philippines with a few different stops (between them) in between.

I stood outside and had a ‘I’ve just woken up and how lazy could I be? I think I’ve got the futon obakemono in my head’ conversation with her. She’s a very interesting woman. I should spend more time with her, but I seem to have grown used to my solitude. Anyway, as we were chatting, her husband came by. He’d just taken his bicycle to the bike shop for repair, but it was closed on Tuesdays.

The woman was the one I bought the mango juice for the night before, so it was kind of natural that we worked my great loss into the conversation.

Hey, well, how’s that mango juice going?

Couldn’t be better. I drank it last night. It was so cool, sweet and delicious.

Well, waddya know? I can’t find mine…

So, she was taking their son for a few laps of the block, hoping to get him tired for the night and I wandered back inside. My dishes had (for once) been done, so it wasn’t like the can could get caught up amongst that particular muck.

There it was.

On top of the fridge.

Where I had looked at least fifty times.


The can is white and the part without a logo was facing outwards, so maybe it just blended… or maybe, those obakemono were pleased to hear that their little piece of mischief had warranted a conversation and they had grown tired of having their fun. So they returned it. Still, the last laugh was on me. It was no longer icy cold and I didn’t want to use ice blocks (or I didn’t have any). So, I drank it, and it was cold, and it was delicious, but the moment had passed, and it wasn’t as cold as it could have been, nor was it what it might have been.

Oh well, at least it was just a bit of light-hearted fun. Can you imagine any of these demons in the list below appearing, though some, most, are rather harmless, but still. They certainly describe the wear and tear of day to day life at times. Nice when you can blame all your social and psychological problems on demons, just so long as exorcism of the same doesn’t involve stakes and fire.

Oh glorious farting and faffing demons flitting around in your buffoonery – you can have my mango juice so long as you don’t take it too often.

Obariyon – a spook that rides piggyback on a human victim and becomes unbearably heavy.
Oboro-guruma – a ghostly oxcart with the face of its driver.
Ohaguro-bettari – a female spook lacking all facial features save for a large, black-toothed smile.
Oiwa – the ghost of a woman with a distorted face who was murdered by her husband.
Okiku – the plate-counting ghost of a servant girl.
Ōkamuro – a giant face that appears at the door.
Ōkubi – the face of a huge woman which appears in the sky. (Seen in the video above)
Okuri-inu – a dog or wolf that follows travelers at night, similar to the Black dog or Barghest of English folklore.
Ōmukade – a giant human-eating centipede that lives in the mountains.
Oni – the classic Japanese demon, an ogre-like creature which often has horns.
Onibaba – the demon hag.Onibi – a spook fire.Onikuma – a monster bear.
Onmoraki – a bird-demon created from the spirits of freshly-dead corpses.
Onryō – a vengeful ghost.Otoroshi – a hairy creature that perches on the gates to shrines and temples.

All those wonderful statues seen in the photos above are featured in this article along with a hundred and thirty one others (I think – I didn’t count them all). I can’t wait to check them out.


*Yes, yes, they made strange bedfellows and eventually divorced. When asked why, it was hard for them to express it, but they mentioned vague feelings of never being satisfied, even though they both often felt they were on the border of being fulfilled beyond their very dreams. It drove them to distraction
anais nin
“I’ve been gypped”, Nin said.

“What did you expect from me?” Peck said (he sadly lived up to his moniker) and went on to become one of the highest ranking, best all-time selling, New Age gurus out. Only Dale Carnegie, Zig Zaglar, Napolean Hill, Sun Tzu and Jesus had him beat. And Jesus and Sun Tzu didn’t really count, because by modern standards they didn’t make any money. The motivators motivator, he was it.

m scott peck

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