Jikininki Japanese Human Eating Ghost’s Urban Legend

Japanese mythology and folklore talk about many horrifying creatures, one of them are called Jikininki. These creatures are known to be like Ghouls, and they feed on dead bodies. The question that arises is whether Jikininki does this because they like it or is it a result of a curse?

Who is a Jikininki?

Jikininki is a man-eating ghost of Japanese mythology who lives on dead corpses. Known to have sharp teeth, Jikininki look like humans, live with them but are unhappy with their existence. These ghouls are known to be cursed after death to seek out and eat human corpses, which happens to people with bad intentions in their previous life.

The Jikininki Urban Legend?

The Japanese urban legend talks about an old priest who was turned into a Jikininki. Once, there was a monk called Muso. He was traveling alone in the mountains where he lost his way. While walking up the hill, he met a man/ old monk and an old Anjitsu, where he asked if he could stay there for the night, but the old monk refused and asked him to stay in a nearby hamlet and find food there.

A headman welcomed him inside the hamlet and allowed him to stay the night. During a few minutes before midnight, Muso was awakened by a young man who said his father died the other day, hence, they must do the rituals tonight. The other villages started to leave their homes to a village nearby to keep the dead body alone for the night as it was said that bad things might follow if it’s not done. 

As Muso was a priest, he insisted to stay with the corpse and perform the last rites while the young man and other villagers left for their home. While Muso was in deep meditation, an unstructured shady being feeding on the dead corpse. The next morning, Muso told the villagers about the same, which strangely, they didn’t seem to be surprised!

Confused Muso, asks the young man about the old priest who lives on the hilltop, the young man mentions there is no such priest on the hilltop!

Who was the Old Priest?

Later, Muso went on the hilltop to see the old priest, strangely, this time the priest lets him in his room. He confesses that he’s a Jikininki who used to be a selfish priest in his past life, hence he’s born as a Jikininki. He apologizes to Muso that he had to encounter him eating the dead corpse, but the only this now he can do is, free him from this cursed life by serving rites for the priest.

Conclusion

Muso performed Segaki rites for him to free the priest. Suddenly, the old priest disappears and so does the old Anjitsu, and Muso finds himself on the ruins of heritage and old priest. Hence, the old priest was rescued from the cursed life of Jikininki, and the tale of a cursed Jikiniki, Japanese mythology, continues.

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