Jikininki, which describes to "human-eating ghosts" in Japanese Folklore, are described as ghosts that eat dead humans in Lafcadio Hearn's 1904 book Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. Jikininki, also known as Hungry Ghosts or Gaki in Japanese Buddhism, are thought to be the souls of those who had impious, avaricious, or greedy lives in this world. After death, these people are cursed with the desire to hunt down and devour both living people and human remains. Jikininkis are also referred as shokujinki in modern-day Japanese.

Jijinki, also known as Phantasm, is a category of supernatural entity that had its start from a folktale about how a pregnant woman prevented a creature who ate corpses. This story is comparable to "Aozukin," which may be found in Ueda Akinari's 1776 work Ugetsu Monogatari.

1. Their Appearance Reflects Their Gruesome Nature

According to legend, jikininki are hideous, frightening animals with strong claws and keen teeth. Due to their continual desire for human flesh, they are frequently portrayed as starving creatures. Also described as nocturnal animals that prowl the countryside at night in search of their next prey, jikininki are claimed to exist.

2. The Jikininki's Behavior - A Monstrous Consequence of Neglected Values in a Japanese Mountain Village

The Jikininki is a terrible creature who is sentenced to this life due to his materialism, selfishness, and disregard for how the deceased are treated in Japanese mountain villages. In the spirit world, he continues to terrorize the residents of a Japanese mountain village, and their fear of him symbolizes their shared ideologies. The community is terrified by the Jikininki, who represents the destruction of its ideals. Neglecting both regional norms and more general religious principles resulted in the creation of this monster.

Jikininki are frequently seen living in abandoned temples or ruins close to populated areas. They stay close to humans despite avoiding them because they eat human flesh and bones as their main source of food. While neither their existence nor the consumption of the dead brings them satisfaction, doing so is vital to ease the pain of their insatiable hunger.

Jikininki are thought to exist in a transitional condition between life and death and exhibit some ghostly traits. The Jikininki and their homes are frequently unseen during the day, and unwary travelers only see them at night. The majority of the time, they stalk their prey at night, breaking inside temples where the dead were spread out for funeral rites.

3. The Reason for Jikininki's Terrifying Transformation

Jikininki are creatures with a close resemblance to gaki, which are thought to be ravenous ghosts in Buddhist mythology. Gaki are constantly hungry but unable to eat. Jikininki, on the reverse hand, are made when someone engages in bad deeds and allows their soul to become corrupted. While some jikininki were wicked priests who were unable to pass on after dying, others had formerly been humans but developed a craving for human flesh. They evolved into the horrific beasts they are now throughout time as they kept going to consume people.

4. The Jikininki Legend: How Wickedness Brings Eternal Pain

According to legend, Muso, a monk or priest, became disoriented while hiking solo in the Mino Mountains in Japan. As dusk fell, he noticed an ancient hermitage, or Anjitsu, on a nearby hill that dedicated to a lone priest. Muso ascended the hill and inquired with the priest about staying there overnight. The old priest violently turned down Muso's request for housing but pointed him in the direction of a nearby village where he might discover food and a place to sleep.

Muso reached at the village after following the elderly priest's instructions, and the village headman gave him food and a place to sleep after extending a warm welcome. A young hamlet came towards Muso in the middle of the night and revealed that his father had gone away earlier that day, but he had kept it a secret earlier so as not to stress Muso. To avoid any disaster, it was usual to leave the dead alone for the night, thus the entire town was departing for a neighboring hamlet. Muso, however, offered to conduct the funeral rites and spend the night with the body because he was a priest. Despite the young man's warnings, he had no qualms about facing the demons or demonic spirits.

The burial ceremony got under way after the villagers had gone, right beside the body and the offerings that were made. Muso was meditating when a shapeless thing suddenly materialized in the middle of the night, leaving him stunned and immobile as he watched it devour the corpse and sacrifices. Muso told the young man what had happened when the villagers arrived back to their homes in the early hours of the morning, but the young guy seemed unsurprised.

Muso then inquired as to why the ritual had not been conducted by the priest who lived on the nearest hill. The young man seemed perplexed and denied that there was any priest in the neighborhood, as none had lived there for many years. Muso left the village with clear instructions on how to continue his journey because the young man also disputed that the hermitage even existed.

Muso returned to the hill where he first ran into the elderly priest and the Anjitsu after finishing his work in the village. The old priest opened the door for him and informed him that he was the formless creature who had eaten the corpse the previous evening and had turned into a Jikininki after having a self-centered life as a priest. The elderly priest requested a Segaki Requiem service from Muso in order to avoid becoming a Jikininki. The ancient priest and the Anjitsu went away after Muso had completed the service. Muso discovered himself bowed down on a grassy hillside in front of a gravestone and the Anjitsu ruins.

Several years later, a young pregnant woman who is out traveling and learning has a run-in with a Jikininki. This is where the story begins up. She was given a stone as protection by her religious father when she was a child, but she never really trusted in the stone's power. She holds the stone and her writing supplies in a pouch. The stone was once blue, but due to its proximity to the charcoals in the pouch, it has turned black.

The scholar doesn't consider herself spiritual, yet she only accepts as true what she can see for herself. Her views are questioned when the Jikininki confronts her. He offers to share his expertise with her in return for something worthwhile because he can tell that she is thirsty for information. Though he is aware he can't physically touch the stone, he thinks she would gift it to him.

A young woman who is pregnant and wanders the streets while studying runs into a Jikininki in the next chapter of the narrative. She didn't have a spiritual side, but she trusted what she could see. Aware of her thirst for knowledge, the Jikininki confronts her and offers her knowledge in exchange for her stone of protection. She nods and sits down on a nearby boulder, eager to take in the information. The Jikininki, however, becomes irritated and orders her to get closer. He swats her hand away as she tries to give him the stone, and then he suffocates her entirely. She had swallowed the stone earlier, but the Jikininki was unaware of this because she was holding a chunk of charcoal in her hand in place of the stone.

The moment she swallowed the Jikininki, the woman experienced a powerful dragging sensation inside her body that lasted until the creature was entirely absorbed into the stone of protection. She gave birth to safe twins who have extraordinary talents despite never crossing the stone. The other twin had the ability to absorb the kinetic energy of people and objects, while the other twin could sense what someone's soul craved, either through touch or in dreams. They were able to defend their village as they grew older and their skills got stronger. In honor of their Jikininki ancestry, the villagers dubbed them Jijinki, but those who lived beyond the hamlet called them Phantasms. The woman was appreciative of her father's superstitious views because she could always feel the stone's presence in her tummy.

The Conclusion

Japanese legend features the interesting and dangerous Jikininki. The story of Jikininki serves as a warning to lead a moral life and to treat people with decency and respect. We sincerely hope you liked reading this article and discovered additional knowledge about Japanese mythology.

As we conclude this article, we extend our gratitude for accompanying us on this journey through the world of Japanese folklore. We hope it has enriched your understanding of these captivating tales and left you with a newfound appreciation for the wisdom they hold. May the tales of the Jikininki and other mythical creatures inspire us all to strive for a world where compassion and respect reign supreme.

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