Episode 5 – Flower Power

Episode 5 Show Notes

Source: Japanese Folklore

This week on MYTH, you’ll hear two different stories about peony flowers from Japanese mythology, because if you’re going to do a thing, you might as well go whole hog, right?  In this episode, you’ll why golden shuttlecocks are a bad idea, what samurai and the Kardashians have in common, and why you should always be careful around peonies.  This is the Myths Your Teacher Hated podcast, where I tell the stories of cultures around the world in all of their original, bloody, uncensored glory.  Modern tellings of these stories have become dry and dusty, but I’ll be trying to breathe new life into them.  This is Episode 5, “Flower Power.”  As always, this episode is not safe for work.

  • Given the prominence of the peony in this week’s story, I figure a little history is probably a good idea.  Gather round, heathens, it’s time for some fucking culture.  In the Japanese language of flowers, the peony is the King of the Flowers, and is considered to be a symbol of  good fortune, bravery, and honor, but also devil may care attitude.  They are not native to Japan, but came over from China with Buddhist monks in the 8th century.  To summarize, they are noble and honorable invaders with a fuck the world attitude.  Keep that in mind for the next two stories.  Given that I don’t speak Japanese, my pronunciations are likely to be rough.
  • The first story is called the Flower of the Peony, and I don’t think any further introduction is needed.  There once was a great daimyo, or feudal lord, in service to the shogun, the military leader who was the real power behind the Japanese throne under feudalism.  His wife had died giving birth to his only child, a daughter named Aya.  He was an important man in the kingdom, the lord of Omo, and affairs of state kept him away from home most of the time.  He took care of his daughter’s needs, but either because he was too busy or kind of a shitty person and blamed her for her mother’s death, he wasn’t there for her.  Aya saw little of her father.
  • For most of 16 years, she was raised by her nurses and her only friends were her maids, hired to take care of her and be her playmates.  Her father was a great warrior, and had made many enemies, so he decreed that while he was away, she should stay safe behind the high, heavily guarded walls.  It was a very comfortable prison, but it was still a fucking prison.
  • After a long war, her father returned to the castle with a doll for his little girl.  Only when he rode into he castle, he saw a group of lovely young women waiting for him.  So yeah, apparently a combination of forgetful and shitty dad. 
  • “Welcome home dad.  It’s good to see you back from the war in one piece.”
  • “Aya, is that you?  Holy shit, how old are you now?”
  • Aya wasn’t even phased.  She was used to this after so many years.  “I’m sixteen, dad.”
  • “Well damn.  Here I thought you were still a little girl.  I guess you don’t want the doll, huh?  I mean, it was expensive, but whatever.”
  • “No, dad, I’m a little old for dolls.  For a few years now.”
  • Her father laughed and went into the castle.  Soon, though, it occurred to him that since his little girl was all grown up, he needed to find her a suitable husband.  He had managed to defeat all of his enemies for the time being, but it wouldn’t last, so now was the perfect time to find someone.  For feudal Japan, sixteen was a perfectly normal age to get married at.  Besides, she was part of the nobility, which meant that she could be a bargaining chip for a political alliance.  Given how many enemies he had made in service to the shogun, this was a big fucking deal.
  • He soon learned that the Lord of Ako had three sons, all of whom were reckoned great warriors.  The eldest son was too old for Aya, and the youngest was still a boy, but the middle son was about the right age.  “They say that second thoughts are always best.”  Seriously, he says that.  Personally, I think he was just trying to make himself feel like less of a dick for neglecting his daughter and then immediately sending her away to be married to a stranger.  Ako was a powerful kingdom, so this would be a good marriage and a strong alliance.   
  • He sent messengers to the man’s father, and a betrothal was quickly arranged.  There was a lot of rejoicing in the two kingdoms, though it probably had more to do with the men of the kingdom not having to kill one another for the fat cats at the top for once than with the two teenagers who had never met each other and were certainly not a love story for the ages.
  • The middle son sent over gifts for his bride to be (or, more accurately, his rich ass father did), which Aya liked because for the first time in her life, someone was paying her some attention without being fucking paid to do it.  She particularly liked the fine silk and linen that had been sent, and she sat for hours with the seamstress, planning her new robes.  Once that was done, she didn’t have anything else to do, so she and her paid friends enjoyed the spring sun in the castle garden.  They did embroidery, they walked in the sun, but mostly, they sat and talked about the lord’s middle son.  They made guesses about what he looked like, how he danced, how rich he was, and what kind of man he would be.  Since her entire future was hanging on this, it was fairly fucking important.
  • At night, the young women would sneak out of their rooms and dance in the moonlight, because the feudal teenager’s idea of rebellion was apparently lame as shit.  She didn’t even leave the fucking house.   On this particular night, the full moon was riding high in the sky, alone in the cloudless night.  Thinking herself a clever poet, one of the maids commented “Ah me.  The moon is a love-lorn lady.  She looks pale and wan, and look, even now she covers her eyes with a cloudy sleeve.” 
  • Not to be outdone, Lady Aya said “Oh yes, the moon is a love-lorn lady, but her sister is sadder and fairer than she.”  Either because they were genuinely curious or because they were being paid to patronize the lady, they asked her who the moon’s sister was.  Instead of fucking answering like a normal person, she beckoned them to follow her.  She led them to the center of the garden where a pond lay smooth as glass in the still air, surrounded by peony blossoms.  Aya pointed to the pale reflection of the moon in the water, and the girls all agreed that she was very clever to have though of it.
  • While they were busy kissing her ass, Aya’s foot slipped on a wet stone and she started to fall into the pond.  As she fell, a young man leapt out of the shadows and grabbed her, pulling her to safety (by which I mean, she avoided getting wet, clearly a fate worse than death).  The girls only had time to catch the glimmer of his robes in the moonlight as he set Aya on her feet, and then he was gone.
  • Aya stood shivering amongst the peonies that she herself had planted (well, had personally directed her servants to plant them, anyway).  Silently, the girls decided that the fun was over and went back to their rooms.  One of the maids, Sada, accompanied Aya to her bedchamber to help her prepare for sleep. 
  • Rather than wondering how in the hell a strange man had gotten into the fortress without raising the alarm, Aya says “He seemed a great lord.”
  • “Truth, lady.”
  • “He was young and very handsome.”  Again, no concern that a strange man had been watching them from the shadows.
  • “Indeed he was, lady.”
  • “He saved my life, and I didn’t even have time to thank him.”  I mean, really, he just saved you from ruining an outfit, but no one said that lonely teenage girls are rational people.
  • “I could see the moon shining off the jeweled mounting of his sword, lady.”
  • “His robe was embroidered with peonies.  How did he know they were my favorite flower?”
  • The maid, deciding that this was moving in a definite bad direction, said “It’s getting late, lady.  We should get you to bed.”  She helped Aya undress and led her to bed.
  • “What of Lord Ako?”
  • “What of him?  I’ve never even met the guy?  Screw it, I’m tired.  We can talk about this later, if I want.”  And she went to sleep.
  • After that night, Aya lost her appetite for dancing and playing with her maids.  She sat around being melancholy, sighing during the day and weeping during the night.  Basically, she was being a typical lovesick teenager.  She didn’t smile when she saw the beautiful wedding garments being made for her, so naturally her father decided she must be sick.  Many wise men and women were brought to the house, but no one could cure her because of course they couldn’t.  You can’t heal puppy love.
  • Finally, the maid Sada went to the lord of the house.  She felt bad about sharing her lady’s secrets, but she knew who paid her wages.  She told Lord Omo about the youth of flowers and his saving of Aya’s clothes.  “My lady has fallen in love with this man and pines for him.”
  • “You can’t be fucking serious.  This is a well-guarded fortress with numerous soldiers on the walls.  No one snuck in her in the middle of the night.  So why don’t you explain how this ridiculous story matters?  I definitely can’t tell Lord Ako that my daughter wants to marry a figment of her damned imagination instead of his son.”
  • “My lord, I fear my lady will die.”  As a side note, this is a trope in a lot of folktales, and it is completely accepted that a person can die from unrequited love. 
  • I’ll quote Lord Omo’s response: “To fight in the field, to flatter at court, and to speak in council; these things are easy, but preserve me from the affairs of my women for they are too hard for me.”  I think he’d genuinely rather face an armed foe than try to reason with his sixteen year old daughter that he barely knows. 
  • The story is ridiculous, but he didn’t survive decades of war by being incautious, so he orders the grounds searched.  Predictably, he finds no one who shouldn’t be there and no secret passages. 
  • That night, Lady Aya demanded that she be taken to the garden for fresh air.  A minstrel was brought in to try and distract her from being sad, and he played a song.  As he sang, the youth rose up from the bed of peonies as if by magic.  The soldiers and ladies in attendance on her all saw the young man, and were surprised to say the least. 
  • Aya cried out for joy and ran to the young man, startling the minstrel enough that he stopped playing.  Immediately, the youth vanished and Aya shot through empty air.  After a really dirty look from Aya, he started playing again.  The youth reappeared, staring soulfully at Lady Aya.  The captain of Aya’s guard, figuring that letting the lord’s daughter make out with a magical stranger might get him executed for dereliction of duty, drew his sword and charged the young man. 
  • As he leapt into the bed of peonies, a cloud blew across the moon casting shadows across the garden and a great hot wind blew from nowhere.  But everyone could still hear the sounds of their fight in the garden.  The cloud passed, and they could see the peonies churned and tossed around from the struggle, and a faint, too-sweet mist hung in the air making everyone feel faint. 
  • The soldier stood panting amongst the flowers, pale and clearly exhausted.  In his right hand was his sword, unstained with blood.  In his left, a perfect peony flower.  Perhaps not entirely aware of what had happened, he screamed “I have him!  He fought like a demon, but I have him! 
  • “Give me the flower,” said Aya.  The soldier, not knowing what else to do, handed the peony over.  He looked a little sheepish at saying that he had caught the man when all he had was a flower. 
  • She took it with her and slept with it upon her breast.  For nine days, she kept the flower with her day and night, and everyone was amazed to see the color come back to her skin and the light come back to her eyes.  She seemed to have been healed of whatever sickness she’d had.
  • On the tenth day, Lord Ako came riding into the city with great pomp and circumstance to be married.  They were married that night, and the people thought she looked pale and sad through the wedding night.  The peony withered away to dust that day and was gone on the wind.
  • The second story uses the flower in a similar fashion, though they don’t spring to life in this one.  This one is called The Peony Lantern.
  • In the kingdom of Yedo lived a samurai named Hagiwara.  He was a samurai of the hatamoto, which is the highest rank.  He was very handsome and ripped, so he was beloved of the town’s ladies, some openly and some in secret (the married ladies loved him).  His being wealthy probably didn’t hurt matters. 
  • Being young and rich as shit, he wasn’t ready to settle down, so he spent all of his time partying.  Or, at least, what passed for partying at the time.  He and the other idle, rich young men spent all of their days together doing absolutely nothing important.  He was the leader of the group, and would often lead drunken revels through the streets of the city an night.
  • One evening, during the festival of the New Year, he found himself with a group of young men and women drinking and playing battledore and shuttlecock, a Japanese game similar to badminton.  He was in a part of the city he wasn’t familiar with, far from his usual stomping grounds, and being shifted didn’t help.  Other than his little group, the streets were empty, and the houses shuttered and dark.
  • Hagiwara wielded his battledore, the small racket used in the game, with great skill, reaching a sort of drunken zen.  They used a gilded golden shuttlecock because they wanted everyone to know how fucking rich they were, even when there was no one there but themselves.  The spell broke eventually, though, and he hit the thing harder than he meant to.  The dove feathers and golden gilding glinted in the twilight as it sailed over the heads of the other players, over the bamboo fence, and into one of the nearby gardens.
  • Immediately, he raced off after it and jumped the fence.  Behind him, he could hear his friends yelling at him.  “Come back here, asshole!  Where the hell do you think you’re going?  We’ve got a dozen of the fucking things.”
  • He shouted back over the fence “Nope, I like that one.  It’s got grey dove feathers and shit, and it’s gold.”  They yelled back “Dude, six of the ones we have are golden with fucking dove feathers!  Get your ass back here!”  But he had a strange obsession with this particular shuttlecock, so he ignored them to look for it.
  • He had taken note of where the shuttlecock should have fallen, but either he had hit it farther than he thought or he was drunker than he thought, and it wasn’t there.  He ran through the gardens, digging through bushes and looking behind rocks, but he couldn’t find the damn thing.  He couldn’t just let it go, so he kept looking.
  • He began beating the bushes with his battledore, his heart pounding as though he had lost his greater treasure.  His so-called friends got tired of waiting for him and decided to abandon him.  They went home without telling him they were going.  He wouldn’t have cared if they had.
  • As the last light faded from the sky, he saw a girl standing in front of him.  She beckoned to him with her right hand, and in her left, he saw the gilded shuttlecock.  With a yellow triumph, he charged up to her, but she moved away, still beckoning with her right hand. His eyes fixed on the glinting of the shuttlecock in the moonlight, Hagiwara followed after her, not thinking that this could be a fucking kidnapping or murderer.  That must be one hell of a cool toy.
  • Eventually, they come to the house in the middle of the garden.  Three stone steps led up to the house.  By the bottom step grew a plum tree in blossom.  On the top step stood a beautiful young woman. 
  • She was dressed in her festival finest, a water blue silk kimono with sleeves that hung low enough to touch the ground, which was the height of fashion at the time.  Her underdress was scarlet and her girdle was stiff and heavy with gold.  She wore pins of coral and tortoise shell in her hair.  Hagiwara could safely assume she was rich and high class, like himself. 
  • Since she was obviously a noble lady, he started to bow and nearly toppled over, so instead he knelt down and bowed his head to the floor.  Much better.  Much sturdier.  He found it harder to fall of the earth from down here.
  • The lady spoke, her voice light and sweet, and rippling with obvious pleasure at Hagiwara’s appearance.  “Please, stand up Hagiwara sama (a polite title like mister), samurai of the hatamoto.”  His drunk ass was enjoying talking to this beautiful woman enough that it didn’t occur to him to wonder how she knew his name and title.  “Come on inside my house.  I am O’Tsuyu, the Lady of the Morning Dew.  My dear handmaiden, O’Yoné, has brought you to me tonight, so I think this is going to be a good New Year’s.  Come on, Hagiwara sama, samurai of the hatamoto.  Come celebrate with me.”
  • He didn’t need another invitation.  Hagiwara stumbled to his feet and made his way up the stone steps into the house.  Inside, it was pleasantly warm after the growing cold of the winter’s night outside. O’Yoné led him to a large room with thick, comfortable mats for sitting.  He found himself relaxing with a new drink in his hand as the the two women entertained him.  O’yoni beat upon a small, scarlet-tasseled drum while Lady O’Tsuyu danced in the traditional Japanese form.  It was no striptease to Pour Some Sugar On Me, but Hagiwara found himself enthralled nonetheless.
  • After the lady finished dancing, her breath a little fast from either exertion or excitement, they brought out a feast.  Why they had food ready for a man who stumbled into their garden by accident doesn’t matter.  They served him the red rice of the new year’s festival and poured sweet red wine, and he found that both tasted incredible.  The food probably was good, but he had to be getting drunk munchies by this time, and anyone who’s ever had too much to drink knows how good food tastes after you’ve been drinking for a while.
  • They laughed and drank and talked well into the night, and it was the wee hours of the morning before Hagiwara finally decided he should be getting home.  You’ve probably been expecting something bad to happen to poor drunk Hagiwara at this point, but nope.  He gets to leave.  He probably could have crashed there but, drunken frat boy or no, he was still a noble warrior and such a thing was not done on a first date.  He stumbled out into the cold, dark night and headed in the direction he thought he had come from. 
  • “Are you going to come back to visit again, Hagiwara?  I’d really like to see you again.” said the Lady O’Tsuyu.  O’Yoné piped up to add “You better come back, mister.  You have to.”
  • Hagiwara didn’t like being told he had to do anything, so he laughed scornfully.  “And wha…what if i don’t come, huh?  What then?”  He laughed again, but the Lady of the Morning Dew stiffened and cast a dark look at him.
  • “Death, my lord.  Death for you, and death for us.  There is no other way.”  At her lady’s words, O’Yoné shuddered and looked away.
  • Nothing sobers you up quite like a death threat, and Hagiwara felt plenty sober as the ladies went inside and closed the door, leaving him in darkness.  He didn’t know what she had meant, but the Lady of the Morning Dew sounded serious.  It bothered him at first, but as he started to get back to a part of the city that he recognized, he felt himself relax.  “Eh, bitch was probably just trying to scare me into coming back.”  He belched loudly.  “Prolly knows I’m a good match.  Fuck her.”  At long last, he found his own house, stumbled through to his bedroom, and collapsed into bed.  His last thought before passing out was “And after all that shit, I fucking forgot the damned shuttlecock!”  He giggled drunkenly and slept.
  • The next day, Hagiwara woke up feeling hungover as shit.  He stayed in bed all day staring off into space and thinking about the woman he had met the night before.  In the light of day, it seemed ridiculous to be worried about her threat.  “Shit, they were probably just a couple of geisha playing a joke on a drunken reveler.  I bet they’re sitting at home laughing about it right now.  That last threat was just a final joke, to try and get in my head.  Well, I’m not gonna fall for that shit.”
  • Feeling better and thinking that a little hair of the dog might be just the thing, he got dressed and headed out to find his friends.  He spent the next six days on a wild bender, drinking, jousting, racing boats, anything a rich drunk could think of to pass the time. 
  • On the seventh day, he woke up and thought.  “I am so sick of this bullshit.  What’s the point?”  That night, instead of finding his friends to go drink with the peasants and try to fuck their daughters, he set out along the dark streets of Yedo alone. 
  • For countless nights, he wandered the streets of the city, from one end to the other, looking for the garden he had stumbled into but finding jack shit.  He couldn’t find the garden and he couldn’t find the Lady of the Morning Dew.  No one he asked had any idea who she was or where she lived.  His search consumed him, and he grew pale and haggard.  After three months of this, he felt sick enough that he lay down in bed and refused to move, and he grew thinner still. 
  • He stayed in bed for another three months, barely eating.  His servants were worried that he would starve himself to death, or else get a mortal fever.  Maybe they were really worried about the self-absorbed prick, or maybe they were worried about becoming unemployed at a time when that was a fucking dangerous thing to be. 
  • At the end of the six months, looking for all the world like he’d drop fucking dead any second, he decided to get up.  It was summer now, and hot, so his servants worried this would definitely be the thing that killed their employer (and their paycheck).  They tried to stop him but he wrapped himself in a loose summer robe and went out anyway because fuck everyone else.  The servants said to one another “Yup, he’s definitely insane.  Time to brush off the old resume, or whatever passes for it in this ancient but unspecified year.”
  • In spite of looking like he just walked out of a concentration camp, his steps never faltered. He looked straight ahead, gaze never moving right or left as people gave him odd looks.  Like a needle drawn to magnetic north, he was being pulled somewhere.  He didn’t care where and kept muttering to himself “All roads lead to my love’s house.”  So, yeah, batshit crazy.  But right, as it turns out, because the bamboo fence suddenly rose up in front of him.  Again, he hasn’t left his bed in three months, but scales the fence with no problem.  Call it the strength of the lover or the mad.
  • Hagiwara found himself grinning a skeletal grin.  “O’Tsuyu will be here and she’s not going to be mad at all that I disappeared for six months without a word.  She’s going to rush out and everything will be awesome.”  Past the fence, he found the garden wild and overgrown.  The three stone steps were covered over with moss.  The plum tree that grew by the base of the steps fluttered bare branches in the wind.  Everything was still, and the house looked empty and abandoned.  Shit.
  • Hagiwara stood in the overgrown garden, aghast, as a cold rain began to fall.  He saw movement and felt his hopes rise and then fall as he saw an old man come around the decrepit house.  The old man seemed surprised to see him.  “Sir, what are you doing here?”
  • Hagiwara didn’t answer.  Instead, he asked “What the hell happened here?  Where is the Lady of the Morning Dew?”
  • “Lady O’Tsuyu?  She’s dead sir,” said the old man.  “She’s been dead five or six months now from a sudden sickness.  No one really knows what happened.  One day she was fine, the next she took to her bed ill, and the next she was dead.  Her grave is up on the hill, next to the grave of her handmaid O’Yone.  The poor girl couldn’t stand to see her mistress walking the streets of Yumi, the Land of the Dead, alone, and went to join her.  They were good to me, so I still tend this harder as well as I can, but I am old and have no more help.  It won’t be long before the wilderness reclaims this place.”
  • Desolate, Hagiwara went home.  He took a slim strip of white wood and wrote the O’Tsuyu’s name on it in large clear letters.  Then he set it up and burned it with incense to take his prayers for the safe passage of her soul up to heaven.  He burned offerings and wept over the alter for his dead love.  I mean, he could have just not been an asshole and none of this would have happened, so I don’t know if saying he loved her is really fair, but that’s what the story says.  Maybe the rich prick actually felt guilty about bringing about her death (she fucking warned him after all).
  • The Festival of Bon, a buddhist festival honoring the spirits of dead ancestors and loved ones, was approaching.  The people of Yedo took their lanterns and visited the graves of their loved onuses tradition required.  They brought food and flowers as offerings for the dead.  On the final night of the festival, Hagiwara walked in his garden lost in thought.
  • The night was dark and still, silent except for the occasional chirp of a cicada or the splash of a carp in the pond.  At the hour of the Ox (around 1am), footsteps broke the silence.  They came from the small road that led by his garden.  He thought he recognized the sound of women’s geta (traditional wooden clogs) by the hollow sound they made on the cobble stones.
  • He peered over the hedge and saw two slim, female figures emerge out of the gloom, holding hands.  One of the figures carried a lantern with peony flowers tied to the handle.  The small light obscured their faces until they drew near and turned to face him.  Hagiwara felt his heart speed up.  Impossibly, it was O’Tsuyu and O’Yone.  He cried out, and the smaller figure held up her lantern to him.
  • “Hagiwara, sama!  This is impossible!  We were told that you were dead, sir.  We have recited the nembutsu (the recitation of a sacred name as meditation) for your soul every night for months now!”
  • “O’Yone, it’s good to see you!  I was told that you were dead.  Is that the Lady of the Morning Dew with you?  Is that my love, O’Tsuyu?”
  • O’Yone looked at him like he was crazy.  “Who the hell else would it be?  Of course it’s my mistress, asshole.”  The two women walked up to the garden gate.  The Lady remained silent, and hid her face behind her sleeve.
  • “Where the fuck have you been?  I spent months trying to find that house again, and when I did, it was empty.  Where did you go?”
  • “We moved to a small house in a district known as Green Hill.  We had to leave immediately, and couldn’t bring any of our things with us.  We have become broke as fuck.”  She glanced at O’Tsuyu.  “My lady has grown thin and pale with grief over your death, and poverty has been hard on us.  She fears you will not love her anymore.”
  • Hagiwara walked softly to the lady and reached up to lower her sleeve.
  • “Please, my lord, you will not love me.  I’m not beautiful anymore.”
  • He said nothing, but pulled her sleeve away.  At the sight of her face, his love rose up inside him and inflamed his soul like a raging fire.  He found himself speechless.
  • “My lord, should I go?”
  • “Stay.” was all he said.
  • A little before daybreak, after a night spent fucking all the fucks he had to fuck, the samurai fell into a deep slumber.  Late in the morning, he woke alone.  Without hesitation, he stood up and walked the streets of Yedo to the Green Hill district.  He asked the people for directions to the Lady of the Morning Dew, but no one had any idea who the fuck he was talking about.  He searched the district from top to bottom with no luck.  She was gone again, and he turned to go home, cursing the gods for taking his lady love from him a second time. 
  • His wandering path took him through a temple with a small graveyard, and he noticed two fresh graves side by side.  One was small and cheap, obviously a servant, but the other was a great monument, a marker for some import noble.  Hung on the monument was a little lantern, the kind used in the Festival of Bon in service to the dead, with peony flowers hung on the handle.
  • He stood there for a long time, the lady’s words echoing in his mind.  “We moved to a small house…in the Green Hill district…we had to leave immediately…we couldn’t bring anything with us…my mistress has grown thin and pale.”
  • To the grave, he said “A very little house, my love, but I bet there’s room for me.  Will you make room, the beloved pale lady of my desires?  We have loved for the space of ten existences, so don’t leave me now.”  I mean, really it’s only been two days, but young lovers are not known for being the most rational people, and given the circumstance, he can probably be forgiven for waxing a little poetic.
  • He went home, and his servant asked him “Where the fuck have you been…sir?  What is wrong now?”
  • Hagiwara said, “Nothing at all.  I’ve never felt better.”
  • The servant walked away, upset. “The mark of death is on his face.  I raised him from a child and have cared for him my entire life.  Now what the fuck am I supposed to do?”  Hagiwara didn’t reply.
  • Every night, for seven nights, the two ladies came to Hagiwara’s house, bearing the little peony lantern.  Even when the skies opened up and stormed, they came at the hour of the Ox just the same.  The story dances around the point, but I’m betting they spent these nights fucking.
  • On the seventh night, his servant sat up late into the night.  He’d been having bad dreams the last week and was worried about his master.  He snuck to Hagiwara’s room and peered through the crack between the door and the jamb and nearly screamed.  The samurai was in the arms of a terrifying ghoul with rotted, putrid flesh.  Hagiwara was smiling up into the ruin of it’s face, languidly stroking its dank, moldy robe with one hand. 
  • In the morning, the servant went to a holy man he knew for help.  His master was clearly under the spell of some awful monster.  He told the man everything he knew and asked “Is there any hope for Hagiwara sama?”
  • “This is pretty damned bad, but I think I can help.”, said the priest.  He wrote prayers and holy texts on several scrolls and gave them to the servant.  “Put one of these over every door and window, and every opening the thing could use to get in.  And put a holy symbol on your master’s person to protect him.”
  • The servant did exactly that before the sun set.  He placed seals all over the house and rolled a golden holy symbol up in the sash of Hagiwara’s robe.  He noticed that Hagiwara seemed weaker now than he had before, and he was worried so he stayed up and watched.
  • At the hour of the Ox, footsteps echoed in the street outside the garden.  They stopped short of the house.  “What the fuck is going on, O’Yone?  The house is asleep, and I don’t see him.”
  • O’Yone replied, “His heart has changed, my lady.  We should go home.”
  • “Fuck no.  Find a way to get me inside.”
  • “I can’t, my lady.  Look, there are holy text all round the house.  Some asshole priest has barred our way.”
  • O’Tsuyu wept piteously.  “Lord, I have loved you through ten existences,” she said as she left.  This time, it’s a little more fair.
  • The next night, the servant again sat up all night, and the two ghouls came and went without getting in.  The third day, at the public bath, someone stole the golden holy symbol from Hagiwara’s robe while he bathed.  Since he didn’t know it was there in the first place, he never knew it was gone.  But that night, instead of falling into a deep sleep, he lay awake and restless.  As night fell, a heavy rain started to fall and the servant, exhausted from keeping watch for two straight nights, was lulled to sleep by the sound of the rain.  The storm was fierce, and it tore the scroll from over the window of Hagiwara’s room. 
  • At the hour of the Ox, the footsteps came again.  “This is the last time, O’Yone.  I can’t bear to keep having my heart broken.  If we can’t get in tonight, I’m fucking done.  There must be a way.”
  • Hagiwara heard her voice and called out.  “Come to me, my beloved.  Please.”  There was a moment of stunned silence.  “My lord…my lord, come out to me.”  But Hagiwara was too weak to leave the bed. 
  • “I can’t get up.  You’re going to have to come to me.”  The lady wailed like the lost soul she was.  “You don’t think I’ve tried?” But O’Yone noticed the broken seal on the window and pointed it out.  Both women walked over to it and passed through the closed window. 
  • A third time, Hagiwara said “Come to me” and O’Tsuyu replied “I come.”
  • In the morning, the servant found Hagiwara’s dead body lying in the bed.  At his feet, the small peony lantern burned with an otherworldly flame.  He shuddered, and blew the flame out. 
  • I love this story because it starts out as a somewhat normal romance story and then takes an abrupt left turn at albequrque.  There are quite a few stories in various cultures about people sleeping with and/or fucking ghosts without realizing it, but most end with the main character’s horrified realization of what happened last night.  I like that this story does something totally different with the set up.
  • And now, it’s time for Gods and Monsters.  This is a segment where I get into a little more detail about the personalities and history of one of the gods or monsters from this week’s pantheon that was not discussed in the main story.   This week’s monster is Hanako-san.
  • There are several stories about her origin, but the most popular says that during World War II, a little girl was using the third bathroom stall on the third floor when a bomb hit the school.  She died there and her spirit has been trapped ever since.  Other versions say she died in a tragic accident in the school, or was killed by a family member or child molester (and you thought a little girl being bombed to death while pissing was dark).  To find her, go to the third floor of the school, enter the girl’s bathroom, close the door to the third stall and knock three times on it.  Ask “Are you there, Hanako-san?”  If you did it right, a little girl’s voice will answer “I am here” from the empty stall.  If you open the door, a little girl in a red skirt and a bob haircut will be standing there.  What happens next depends on which school you’re in.  In the Yamagata prefecture, the little girl will won’t be there at all.  Instead, a 3 meter long, three headed lizard has mimicked her voice and will devour you.  Apparently japanese demon lizards mimicking ghost girls really love the fucking rule of threes.  If you are in the Iwate prefecture, a pale white hand will emerge and she will want to play with you.  Forever.  As in, she straight up murders you to try and make a forever playmate.  In the Kanagawa prefecture, once summoned, her blood-stained hand will emerge from the toilet and drag you to hell by way of porcelain throne.  I’m not sure I can think of many worse ways to die than to be dragged to hell through a shit-stained elementary school toilet because you decided to be an idiot.
  • In what has to be a ploy to make kids pay attention in school, the only way to get rid of Hanako-san is to present her with a test or report card with good grades.  Seriously.  It’s a ghost banished by nerds. 

That’s it for this episode of Myth Your Teacher Hated.  Keep up with new episodes on our Facebook page, on iTunes, on Stitcher or on TuneIn, or you can follow us on Twitter as @HardcoreMyth.  You can also find news and episodes on our website at myths your teacher hated dot com.  If you like what you’ve heard, I’d appreciate a review on iTunes, since it helps increase the show’s standing and let more people know it exists.  If you have any questions, any gods or monsters you’d want to learn about, or any ideas for future stories that you’d like to hear, feel free to drop me a line.  I’m trying to pull as much material from as many different cultures as possible, but there are all sorts of stories I’ve never heard, so suggestions are appreciated.  The theme music is by Tiny Cheese Puff, whom you can find on fiverr.com.

Next time, we’ll be staying in the Far East with one of my favorite characters of all time.  It’s the Chinese myth of the legendary Monkey King.  This is a character that I can almost guarantee you’ve seen in some form or another, even if you haven’t realized it.  He’s probably the most popular character in chinese mythology, because how could a monkey making himself into an immortal god several times over with nothing but a massive pair of balls not be a fan favorite?That’s all for now.  Thanks for listening.