In honor of our featured haunt of the month, the Ryokan Hiei, we’re stepping into the Japanese world of the supernatural and superstition. The four main categories of supernatural entities are:

Obake: The Japanese ghost.

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Yokai: Generally appearing at dawn or dusk, yokai encompasses a wide range of other-worldly supernatural beings. Included in this group are the shape-changing animals: the kitsune (fox creatures) and the tanuki (badger creatures).

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Yurei: The ghost of one who died suddenly, typically female. Strong emotions at the time of death ties this ghost to the land of the living, in an attempt to complete unfinished business or seek revenge.

Oni: Evil creatures that, according to legend, may become good-natured on rare occasions.

One particularly famous ghost story is that of the servant maid, Okiku.
Click here to read the tale.


Japanese superstitions to follow while on the hunt at the Ryokan Hiei

When on the search for ghosts, you'll want to make sure you don’t call in any additional bad luck. Here are some Japanese superstitions to be aware of:

  • 1. The number 4 is pronounced shi, the same as the word for death and is considered very unlucky. As a result, many hotels do not have a room #4 or a fourth floor.
  • 2. The number 9 and the word pain also share the pronunciation ku. Though not as unlucky as 4, 9 is still frequently skipped in numbering rooms or floors in hospitals.
  • 3. Whistling at night will attract snakes.
  • 4. Avoid sticking chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice as this is traditionally part of the funeral ritual.
  • 5. Don't sleep with your head pointing north.
  • 6. Breaking a comb or the strap of your geta sandal will bring bad luck.
  • 7. Never write another person’s name in red ink – something bad will happen to them if you do.