There's a culture of terror in the Asian continent. Yet, in Japanese mythology, there is nothing equal to the vengeful spirits of Onryō.
In the middle of the night, Onryō's vengeful spirits do justice for their deaths. At least, this is what Japanese mythology says, which ensures that yūrei tales extract the most horrifying stories about irate, vengeful, and rage-filled ghosts.
Terribly feared by Japanese culture, the spirits of Onryō are ghosts that appear in the world of the living, driven by the desire to avenge some evil during their earthly life.
Who are the spirits of Onryō from Japanese mythology?
Known for causing natural disasters, vengeful spirits are classified in the Japanese ghost tradition as those who inhabit purgatory. Recognized under the name Onryō, these beings are the cosmic rage that inhabits the Earth.
Oftentimes, the stories about these ghosts deal with corrosive jealousy, crimes of passion, royal revenge, among others, which transcend in the form of cosmic rage, and travel between life and death.
These stories are undoubtedly inspired by aristocratic and social events in Japan. Some stories talk about dynasties. In particular, there is a very interesting one. This is a play of 1825, Yotsuya Kaidan, which tells the complex revenge of Oiwa, a disfigured woman who seeks to avenge her death caused by her samurai husband, Iemon.
The popular interpretation suggests that Oiwa is recognized as an Onryō spirit, with a distorted face, long black hair, and a funeral gown that flutters gloomily. The first performance of it was given in the Edo period under the birth of the kabuki theater.
After becoming a play, Oiwa's story was printed in an amazing book. However, Japanese mythology didn’t consider her enough. Thus, came the iconic movie Ringu. This 1990 adaptation earned a spot on Japan's Favorite Movie Monsters list.
The cultural origin of the Onryō
Many spirits roam the Japanese islands. Some of them are kind, but others not so much. The Onryō falls under the classification of vengeful spirits, and this group can contain monsters, creatures, spirits, and other inexplicable phenomena known as the yokai, that is to say, "bewitching mysteries."
The yokai are a kind of supernatural existence that manifests itself in sinister ways. For example, it can cause illness, fires, storms, and all kinds of bad things. But how to calm a vengeful spirit of Japanese mythology?
Beliefs suggest that Onryō spirits can be appeased with an act of justice. After all, what they want is to clear the memory of their life on Earth. Nevertheless, good or evil, Japan continues to adore ghostly stories and seeks to guarantee eternal happiness to all these troublesome spirits.
Text and photos courtesy of Ecoosfera
Translated by Gaby Flores