Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cursed Japanese Children Songs (受诅咒的日本童谣)

There are many children songs that are said to be cursed or of sinister motives. Below are some that I have collected for sharing:


The first is the ‘Bird In The Cage” 《笼中鸟》:


From the ridges of a cage, from the ridges of a cage;

I see a bird in the cage (from the ridges).

It wants to escape whenever possible.

Exactly at the dawn of that night,

Exactly during the moment when white crane and tortoise are united;

Who is standing behind your back?

The above child song is sang during a game where a kid acts as ghost, blind folded and squats in the centre of a circle of children. The children would start singing the above song and when the song halted. If the ‘ghost’ had guessed who is behind ‘it’, then the said child shall become the ‘ghost’. In another words, this child song is implicitly indicating “the ghost at the back at that instance, shall replace the bird in the cage (to suffer). The Chinese call it 替死鬼 or simply ‘replacement ghost’.

The second one is “Song Of Japanese Doll” 《日本娃娃童谣曲》:


A young girl carries a doll on her back…

She enters a garden to watch flowers…

The doll cries for her mother…

Birds on the tree laughing out loud: Hahaha…


Now, just think carefully… Who is crying? And why did the birds laugh? Because…


This song is in fact a song that describes a ghostly story:


In ancient Japan, a small girl was separated from her mother. The girl was lonely and whatever and wherever she went, she couldn’t find her mother. Finally, the girl was starved to death. The only thing that accompanied this poor girl was a doll.


After a few years, the girl’s doll was sold in a toy shop and it was then bought by another girl. One evening, after having dinner, this new owner carried the doll on her back to the back garden to enjoy flower blossoms.


Suddenly, this girl heard some laughing sound… some very eerie laughing sounds: “Mom… mom…”


The poor girl felt something wasn’t right, so she turned her head and saw her doll was crying for her mother!

So next time when you are passing through a garden, please be very careful of birds on the tree branch… for are they laughing at you because you may just carrying a extremely fair and horrible Japanese doll which incidentally can cry and call out loud for her mom!


There is another lesser known story about the song:


The ‘girl’ in the song was originally Kitamura Tamagami (北村玉上), she was the daughter of a general. Tamagami was no where beautiful and when she was coming of her age, she became very ugly. Gradually she refuses to see anyone even her mother and sisters dare not approach her.


The only thing that can accompany Tamagami was a doll with an everlasting smiling face. So Tamagami hugged this doll days and nights. When Tamagami was at 15, she committed suicide by hanging herself due to severe loneliness and grief.


Since Tamagami stayed alone, no one discovered the death of Tamagami until the corpse started to give out foul smell that her mother finally discovered her daughter was dead. It was said that Tamagami’s mother died a few years later due to extreme grief… When her mother died, she was holding Tamagami’s doll as if she wanted to join her daughter in after life.


Soon the story of Tamagami was forgotten except that the sounds of crow from a far sounded like: “Mother! I am very lonely! Mother! Why didn’t you accompany me?”


When the general heard of the news and to pacify people’s fright, the general ordered to carve the white face of the doll into the face of a cat (cat is the sign of auspiciousness in Japan), but in order not to let the doll make noise, the general asked the artist not to draw the mouth on the face.


As such the doll was kept in the house for a century or so…


Kitamura family members were killed in a series of wars and unrests. All of the family belongings were robbed including the doll. People believe that the doll has seen many changing hands throughout the years. Perhaps the antique Japanese doll you are looking at is a real thing!


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