Travel: Ome city’s ghost sites not the usual haunts for tourists

(From The Asahi Shimbun)

Famed for its “ume” Japanese apricot blossoms, the city of Ome in western Tokyo is turning to something more sinister, namely “yokai” ghouls and hobgoblins, to attract visitors.

Ome is also known as the locale of “Yuki-onna” (snow woman), a ghost story written by international writer Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904).

kwaidan-yuki

Tokyo officials are using the legend of snow woman and other stories to promote Ome.

City officials are using this legend and other ghost stories to promote Ome as Tokyo’s center of folklore.

So far, they have hosted trial guided tours and a stamp print collecting event at related sites across the city.

“Did you know there are so many yokai in Ome?” Bintaro Yamaguchi, 49, explained to a group of about 20 participants of a guided tour in late February.

The writer who lives in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, is well-versed in ghosts and other occult phenomena.

Yamaguchi cited 40 to 50 yokai monsters closely associated with the city as he led the tour around JR Ome Station. He mentioned the nocturnal “Azuki-babaa” (azuki bean-washing old woman) at Sokenji temple, “Warai-jizo” (laughing jizo, or the statue of a Buddhist guardian deity for children) at Kongoji temple, and a flying, squirrel-like mystical creature called “Tenmaru” at the Joganji temple. Read More



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