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Lesson Transcript

Peter: Hi everyone! Peter here!
Motoko: And I’m Motoko! Today we’re going to introduce some mythological Japanese creatures.
Peter: That’s right, we’re talking about Japanese Creatures! You’ll learn about the top 6 creatures.
Motoko: How much do you know about Japanese creatures?
Eng. Even if you’ve never heard of any, you’ll know by the end of this lesson. Are you ready?
Generic words
Peter: First, let’s take a look at the generic words for “mythological creatures” in Japanese.Motoko, What are they?
Motoko: That’s ‘Obake’ and ‘yōkai’.
Peter: Hmm, Obake sounds familiar.
Motoko: Right! We use obake more often to describe scary creatures. Children might scream ‘Obake!’ when they see something scary and unknown.
Peter: Ah, I remember that Mei-chan in “My neighbor Totoro” asked Totoro, “Are you ‘Obake?” when she saw him for the first time.
Motoko: That’s a great example.
Peter: So to be accurate, obake is used for the creatures that humans or animals transform into after death.
Motoko: ...and Yōkai is used for creatures that have supernatural powers.
Peter: I’ve heard that parents use obake to tell their kids to behave well.
Motoko: Ah, yes. Some parents might say to their kids, “Go to bed now, otherwise obake are going to come to your room!”
Eg.That will definitely make the kids go to bed! No kid wants to see scary
Motoko: Obake!
Peter: OK, let’s have a look at each of our 6 creatures now.
1. Oni
Motoko: The first one is Oni,
English: which is commonly translated as “demon,” “troll,” or “ogre”.
Motoko: Oni
English: is generally described as a huge male creature with curly hair. It commonly has one or two horns on its head, wears shorts made of tiger skin, and carries around a thick iron stick with spines.
Motoko: They’re often identified by their body color, such as ‘aka oni’,
Peter: is “red ogre,”
Motoko: ‘ao oni’,
Peter: “blue ogre”
Motoko: ‘midori oni’
Peter: “green ogre.”
Motoko: Some of you might have heard the story of ‘Naita aka oni,’ or "Red Ogre's Tears."
Peter: I know that one! It’s about the friendship between red and blue ogres.
Motoko: Right. Since oni is one of the most common mythological creatures, there are a lot of anecdotes about evil and even generous oni.
Peter: It’s good to hear you have nice creatures, too!
2. Yūrei
Motoko: (laughs) Now, the second creature is yūrei,
Peter: which means "ghost" or “phantom.” These are almost the same as western ghosts, but the stereotypical
Motoko: yūrei
Peter: is a man with no legs who wears a white kimono and has a triangle cloth on his forehead.
Motoko: Their typical phrase is ‘Urameshi ya~’
Peter: which means “I Blame you.”
Motoko: Some yurei appear as they looked before their death.
Peter: This is one of the famous anecdotes. A person talks to the
Motoko: yurei
Peter: of their friend but doesn’t realise that the friend is dead! It might be familiar in western culture too.
Motoko: I think so - some ghosts just come to say Goodbye to their friends!
Peter: This reminds me of the movie Ghost! or sixth sense. Ok, what’s next, Motoko?
Motoko: Next, let’s talk about Kappa.
Peter: I like kappa. It’s one of the less scary-looking creatures in our list.
Motoko: Oh really? Do you know what it looks like?
Peter: Of course, Motoko! It looks like a child but its body is usually green or red. It usually has a plate on the top of its head, and there is always some water in the plate.
Motoko: Wow, you know it well! Kappa will die or get weak when the plate goes dry, or breaks.
Peter: It also has a beak like a bird, webbed feet and hands, and a shell like a turtle.
Motoko: Kappa are good at swimming and sumo, and live near rivers.
Peter: Most of them are harmless, but sometimes they will drown people. And they love to eat…
Motoko: kyuri
Peter: … cucumbers. Actually, cucumber sushi rolls were named after…
Motoko: kappa.
Peter: This name comes from the monster right?
Motoko: That’s right! They’re called ‘kappamaki,’
Peter: which literally means “kappa rolls.” My kids and lots of kids love these. Let’s move on to the next creature.
4. Tengu
Motoko: This next one looks very cool. It is Tengu.
Peter: It’s a shame we can’t show you what
Motoko: tengu
Peter: looks like right now. This creature is usually described as a mountain hermit in a kimono. They usually wear
Motoko: geta
Peter: and hold a fan made of leaves.
Motoko: They have a red face and a big nose, and a pair of wings on their back. Tengu...
Peter: can be categorised as mythological creatures, but they are also one of the mountain gods. Some play tricks on people on their mountain, and some monitor people to save the mountain. Motoko, When I think of Tengu, I think of Mt. Takao…
Motoko: That’s right there is actually a Tengu mask at Mount Takao, which is a popular tourist spot in Tokyo.
5. Rokurokubi
Peter: Okay. The next one is
Motoko: Rokurokubi.
Peter: It looks creepy…
Motoko: Oh, but it doesn’t do bad things to people. rokurokubi.
Peter: is usually described as a woman with a supernatural neck, and there are two kinds of this creature.
Peter: That’s right. One kind can stretch her neck.
Motoko: She stretches her neck and looks around while no one is looking at her.
Motoko: That’s the more common type. The other type can separate her head from her neck and the head can fly and move around.
Peter: An old Japanese tale says that her head came off only when she was sleeping. She didn’t even know that her head moved around and surprised her neighbours at night!
Motoko: This one is definitely creepy!
6. Zashiki warashi
Peter: Finally, let’s introduce a good creature, which is...
Motoko: Zashiki warashi.
Peter: Japanese tradition says, you should welcome them! It’s said that zashiki warashi bring good fortune to a house and the family who lives there.
Motoko: If zashiki warashi leaves the house, that family will also lose their good fortune.
Peter: This creature is usually described as a little child in a kimono with its hair cut into a bob. It can be a boy or a girl. It lives in a house and loves playing tricks on the family there.
Motoko: For example, it leaves footprints, flips pillows at night, and makes noises to surprise people.
Peter: Here is a famous story:
Motoko: zashiki warashi
Peter: often played with human children. When the children were counted, people noticed that there was an extra child but couldn’t tell who it was!
Motoko: It’s said that only children can see zashiki warashi but they can not tell who they are.
Peter: So, how was this lesson, listeners? Do you understand more about Japanese mythological creatures now?
Motoko: Which creature is your favorite? Do you have similar creatures in your country?
Peter: Leave us comments and tell us about your countries mythological creatures! See you next time.
Motoko: Jaa, mata!