Akurojin-no-hi: Construction of an Urban Legend

  • John Livingston University of Florida
Keywords: Akurojin-no-hi, Edo Period


Akurojin-no-hi is a flamelike ghost that was thought to appear in Mie Prefecture, Japan. Little information is known about this creature other than its basic physical characteristics and that it appears on rainy nights. Through utilization of translated primary and secondary sources from Japan as well as analysis of older documents, this paper aims to draw connections between natural disasters, and economic factors that occurred during the Edo Period of Japan. This article considers all these elements and describes how they influenced the conceptualization of Akurojin-no-hi. This paper begins by observing the economic developments of the period and then connects these new developments to other events also occurring in Japan at the time, such as the long journeys of the Shikoku Pilgrims who traveled along wide, expansive roads like the Tokaido. Natural disasters which occurred during the Edo Period are also discussed, mainly the large, widespread fires which affected cities both big and small, and also how these fires influenced the conceptualization of the Akurojin-no-hi. Finally, this article compares the characteristics of the Akurojin-no-hi to the characteristics of other fire yokai and analyzes their differences and similarities.