#33 Kaidan 怪談

Twice a month, my friend and I organize the event, “Let’s talk about Kyoto in English and Japanese”. Today’s theme was Kaidan.
I took memo of useful expression 🙂

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)
_____________________________________________________________
A creature with eyes not on its face but on the plans of its hands… A long-necked monster with a tongue that moves like a snake… Known as yokai, these characters have been part of Japanese folklore for centuries.
顔にあるはずの目玉が手のひらから覗く。異様に伸びた首と、蛇のようにうごめく舌。日本各地で古くから伝わる妖怪です。

One of the best-known types of yokai is the kappa- a water sprite with a  saucer-like depression on the top of its head. Kappa are believed to live in marshes and rivers, and they love to wrestle with children.
なかでも代表的なのは河童(かっぱ)です。頭の上のお皿が特徴で、沼や川に住み、子供と相撲を取るのが大好きだと言われています。

But kappa have a violent side, too. It’s said that they sometimes drag children into the water.
しかし、時には凶暴な顔を見せることもあります。子供を水中に引きずるこむこともあると言い伝えられています。

The Japanese used to blame water-related accidents and other natural calamities on yokai.
日本人は水難事故などの自然の脅威を、妖怪の仕業だと考えたのです。

__________
folklore 民間伝承
sprite 妖精
marsh 沼地
calamity 大災害
__________

There are also yokai based on household items. These picture scrolls from the 16th century tell the story of how these yokai came into existence.
道具が妖怪になることもあります。室町時代のこの絵巻に、その誕生の様子が描かれています。

It goes like this: A major cleaning session is held at a big mansion, and many old household items are thrown out. The discarded items get together and discuss how they turn into yokai and start attacking them.
人々が屋敷の大掃除をしていて、物を捨てようとすると、その古道具が人間に復讐しようと会議を始めます。古道具はやがて妖怪へと変化し、人間に危害を加えるようになります。

At that time, the Japanese believed that every inanimate object had its own spirit and would cause bad thing to happen to anyone who didn’t take good care of it. Stories about yokai sometimes served as a warning to people to be more respectful to the things they use.
日本人は、物に命が宿り、粗末にすると祟りがあると考えました。妖怪は、物の大切さを人に教える存在でもあったのです。

Around 200 years ago, during the late Edo period, the role of yokai changed and they became a source of amusement.
今から200年ほど前の江戸時代末期、妖怪は庶民の娯楽へと変身します。

Here’s a pack of cards used for children’s game. Each card features some kind of funny-looking yokai.
子供のカルタに描かれているのは、滑稽な妖怪の姿です。

And the theme of this traditional board game is also yokai. People began to see yokai as amusing characters, and many famous ukiyo-e artists started depicting them.
日本の伝統的な遊び、双六にも妖怪の姿が。庶民は妖怪を愉快なキャラクターとして楽しむようになり、著名な浮世絵師もこぞってその姿を描きました。

The Japanese have always had a certain fear of nature, but they have also felt an affinity with it. Scary but at the same time oddly likable, yokai perhaps embody the Japanese way of seeing the world.
昔から日本人は自然を畏れると同時に、自然に親しむ気持ちを持っていました。怖いだけでなく、愛嬌のある妖怪たちは、そんな日本人の世界観を体現しているのではないでしょうか。

_____________________________
affinity 親近感
embody ___を体現する
____________
(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)
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People in the old days blamed evil spirits for infectious diseases.
昔の人は疫病を鬼のせいにしていました。

inanimate 無生物の
animate 生命のある

The arrival of the US Black Ships in 1853 caused the Tokugawa shogunate to abandon its isolation policy.
1853年の米国の黒船来航で江戸幕府は鎖国政策を廃止することになりました。

Japanese honorifics include respectful expressions used for others and humble expressions used for oneself.
日本の敬語には、相手に対して用いる尊敬語と自分に対して用いる謙譲語があります。

Toyotomi Hideyoshi reunited the whole country in the late 16th century.
豊臣秀吉は16世紀末に再び全国を統一しました。

The Japanese see the cherry blossom as a national symbol.
日本人は桜の花を日本の象徴と考えています。

In the old days, Buddhism and Shinto were seen as one religion.
昔は仏教と神道は一体化したものとみなされていました。

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

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