Supernatural Abductions in Japanese Folklore

Supernatural Abductions in Japanese Folklore

By Carmen Blacker

Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 26:2 (1967)

Introduction: The belief that children may in an unguarded moment be kidnapped by a subtle and malignant enemy of supernatural description is a fairly widespread one throughout the world. In western Europe fairies and korrigans were widely credited with powers of abducting babies, leaving in their place a hideous changeling with a huge appetite and misshapen head. In Japan a rather similar belief in supernatural kidnapping survived in many districts until modern times. A boy or young man who unaccountably disappeared frorn his home was assumed to be not lost but stolen, to be the victim of kamigakushi or abduction by a god. If all reasonable search for him proved fruitless it was concluded that some god or goblin had carried him off to its own realm. In such emergencies the whole village considered it a duty to turn out at sunset with lanterns, and to march round in procession, banging loudly on bells and drunis and shouting, “Bring him back, bring him back!”

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