Otogi Bōko

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Otogi Bōko
Otogi Bōko

The Otogi Bōko (御伽ばうこ – Hand Puppet Tales1) was a piece of kana-zōshi literature published in 1666 by Asai Ryōi.

The book consists of 68 tales of which 21 were adapted from the Chinese novel, Jiangdeng xinhua.2

The books contains the first reference to the yōkai known as the Hone onna and the story behind it; of a skeleton returning to seduce a man. This story would later inspire the tale of The Peony Lantern.

Asai also mentions the parlor game of Hyaku Monogatari Kaidankai in the book. He cautions people against partaking in the game and describes the game as follows:

on a dark night, a lantern is covered in blue paper,
and into its oil 100 wicks are dipped and lit;
when each is removed for every story told,
the room will grow darker,
casting the room in an eerie blue glow,
and something incredible will happen.

He stops his book before reaching 100 hundred stories for fear of the effects of the Hyaku Monogatari Kaidankai.1


1. Yoda, H. and Alt, M. (2016) “Japandemonium: Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopaedia of Toriyama Sekien.”. New York: over Publications, Inc.
2. Louis Frederic, translated by Kathe Roth (2002) “Japan Encyclopedia”. London: Harvard University Press.

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