Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Oni

Many of the stories you still see today are inspired directly and indirectly from various myths. For the 2015 A-Z Challenge, I'm going to share mythology from all over the world - myths that are familiar and obscure.

Every culture has their own version of demons, and the Japanese is no exception. Oni is a general term for demons, devils, trolls, ogres, and other nasty creatures. They usually have horns, fangs, claws, and have blue or red skin. Many myths also have oni act as shapeshifters.

Japanese villages would hold a ceremony once a year to keep the oni away. They'd roast soybeans and throw them around, expelling any oni that might be hanging around. Within wealthy households, priests would purify the building and cleanse the area of any oni energy hanging around.

In more modern times, people would weak oni masks and run around while people threw soybeans at them. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a heckuva lotta fun!

Homes were NEVER built towards the northeast, as this direction was called the "demongate." Temples often faced northeast to help protect the area from demons.

Oni were often the bad guys in countless tales, and even to this day, lots of Japanese anime books and movies still use oni as their antagonists.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I might still have an Oni mask from when I lived there...

Nick Wilford said...

I've seen them before but didn't know the name. Sounds like kids would enjoy the beanthrowing ceremony.

Pat Dilloway said...

That demon looks pretty badass. I hope my door isn't facing northeast.

Sarah Foster said...

I don't know if I'd want anyone throwing soybeans at me...
That's really interesting about the directions the buildings faced.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

This SO interesting. I'm pretty sure we do have demons walking amongst us.

jaybird said...

Cool facts. I'd chuck some soybeans at my Asian friends- but only if they asked me to first. Not sure they would take it well otherwise, lol. I have often wondered why some of the figures/statues I had seen all had red skin- now I know why!! Creep oni skin.

Pat Hatt said...

haha getting pelted by soybeans is always fun, right?

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, very cool! I learned something new. I love the variations in lore, and also that there seems to be common underpinnings.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, very cool! I learned something new. I love the variations in lore, and also that there seems to be common underpinnings.

David P. King said...

Been watching a show that brings up Oni. Cool to see different takes on the concept. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm not familiar with that name but they sound like some interesting bad guys.

Mark Noce said...

Very cool:) Thanks for opening my eyes to this new concept of "demons" ;)

Jo said...

Bit like feng shui then. I would think baked soy beans could be quite painful if thrown hard enough.

Haneen I. Adam said...

Hay! I’m in Japan today too on my blog, the Katana sword. I know this one :) always liked Oni stories they have so much potential, I loved the northeast idea and how temples play a role in guarding the village, this deserves to be put in a story.
"Haneen/I Will Never Give you Up (430)"

Tony Laplume said...

There's a comic book company called Oni Press. Its logo features a demon. Now I know why.

Robin said...

Look out for the Oni.

Okay, that's not really a saying, but it should be.

Patricia Lynne said...

That is cool.

~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
Story Dam
Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

cleemckenzie said...

Pelted by soybeans! Now there's a ritual that is unique.

betty said...

Sounds interesting; I wonder why they chose soybeans. Something that grew abundantly in the area?


Intangible Hearts said...

Hmm. Makes me wonder about the word as a prefix in Hawaiian and Native American words.

Intangible Hearts said...

I meant suffix. Duh.

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