Obon season is fast upon us, so get into a spooky mood with three variations on the one of Japan’s most famous ghost stories over on Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai.
Okiku is one of the most interesting yurei in Japan. She is a true folktale, with multiple versions spread across the country. Anywhere there is an old castle and a well, there is a legend of Okiku. She isn’t always named Okiku, and she isn’t always counting plates, but the same details are there.
Here are three translations of some different versions of the legends. I started with the oldest, so you can see how the tale has changed over time. Over the course of learning about her, Okiku changed from a yurei I thought was kind of boring, to one of my favorites. She is the most Japanese of Japan’s famous ghosts.
If you like Okiku, there’s going to be a whole chapter on her in Yurei: The Japanese Ghost. There’s also a well in at Himeiji Castle that claims to be Okiku’s final “resting” (haunting?) place as well. (Scroll down to お菊井戸.)