"Fujio" written by TheDarkCat97
Pets these days are considered to be among the best companions of people. While they cannot necessarily speak or talk to human beings, people find comfort in confiding in their pets and having them around the house. The common types of domestic pets include dogs, cats, birds, and fish. The two most typical ones are the dogs that are considered to be a man's best friend and the cats that love to purr and cuddle. These cute little bundles of joy look harmless and bring comfort to their owners.
However, in Japan, this is not always the case. There are many superstitions and folklores surrounding animals in general, including domesticated pets, among them being cats. There is a Japanese folklore that believes that there are monsters within cats that come out after a certain age. Some believe that they turn into beasts known as the Nekomata after a certain time of being in the house. These beasts were believed to devour human beings and kill just for fun. This has made an impact on how some people who believe in the Japanese folklore take care of their domesticated cats until today. Sadly, this effect has not been the best for the welfare of the cats in Japan.
With “neko” translating to “cat” in English, a nekomata is a type of cat yokai that originated from Japanese folklore. It was first mentioned by Yoshida Kenko in his literary jottings during the Kamakura period from the year 1185 to the year 1333. In his scroll called Tsurezure-gusa or The Harvest of Leisure, also called Essays in Idleness, Yoshida stated that a nekomata exists deep in the mountains that feeds on human flesh. It was also around this time that Fujiwara Sadaie mentioned the existence of nekomata in his scroll called Meigetsuki or The Record of the Clear Moon, also known as the Diary of the Clear Moon.
During the Kamakura period, because there was no accounts that relayed supernatural abilities of the nekomata, the beast was only considered a regular predator that lived in the mountains. It is also unbeknownst to the public whether the accounts stated by both Yoshida and Fujiwara were based on an actual creature or something else altogether. What is to be sure is how this recounting of events in their scrolls affected the readers and the general public. It caused fear among the people, all of which have not even seen a nekomata before.
Upon the arrival of the Edo period, the folk legend concerning the nekomata evolved. Through the years, the size of the nekomata increased with each telling of the story. The nekomata was described to be bigger than a wild boar in the book entitled Shincho Monjyu or A Literary Collection of New Hearings published in the year 1685. Come the year 1775 in the book entitled Waku-shiori or A Bookmark of Chinese Characters, the size of the nekomata further increased as it was described to be as huge as a panther or a lion, with its growl resounding through the mountainous regions. This further evolved as the nekomata was depicted as having a length of more than six feet in the year 1809. It was also said that the creature was big enough “to carry a dog in its mouth.”
It was during the Middle Edo Period that the idea of domesticated cats turning into the nekomata first appeared. It was believed to be dangerous to keep a house cat for too long as it might transform into the nekomata. Furthermore, it was said that the tail of the old cats would be split into two once it is time for their transformation. This idea was explained and supported by the books Ansei Zuihitsu or The Literary Jottings of Ansei written by Yusoku Kojitsu and Kazusai no Neko or Cats of Various Ages written by Ise Fudatake. A scholar by the name of Arai Hakuseki further increased the popularity of this belief through his essays about the mysteries of cats. His essays were printed in newspapers that were widely circulated at that time.
Probably among the most famous stories in relation to the nekomata was The Nekomata Fire, which was among the many stories compiled in the 1708 Yamato Kaiiki or Mysterious Stories from Japan. The tale talks about how the house of a samurai was taken over by a ghost-like haunting. The problem only ended when the house cat of the family was killed (which was considered a feat) where it was revealed to have two tails.
Many people mistake the nekomata for the bakeneko. While the two have the same original life of being house cats before transforming into beasts, the nekomata are more hostile. Not only are they older and larger cats compared to the bakeneko, but they also have longer tails that would split into two. Furthermore, not all bakeneko are malevolent while all nekomata definitely are. It is also believed that the nekomata are more able to speak human language in comparison to the bakeneko. Due to their larger size, the nekomata are also able to cause more damage and wreak havoc in comparison to the bakeneko.
The belief on the nekomata and its evil acts began in the year 1233, which was the beginning of Tenpuku. On the 8th of the month of August during the early years of the Kamakura period, a statement was made by Fujiwara in the scroll “Meigetsuki” that a nekomata killed and gobbled many people in just one single night in Nanto, which is now known as Nara Prefecture. This was the first time that a nekomata appeared in literature. It was believed then that a nekomata was a monster living in the mountains.
In the “Meigetsuki,” the nekomata was described as that of having the eyes of a cat but the body of a large dog. It was believed that the nekomata would attack humans who were by chance in the mountain regions. The chances of becoming a victim of the nekomata depended on many factors such as how deep the person is in the mountains. The nekomata were also cunning creatures that used several tricks in order to lure people into the mountains.
One of their many tricks included mimicking the sound or cries of people who are in peril. Their tricks were not limited to this, as they would do anything to lure their prey into the dangers of the mountains and away from the safety of their own homes. These victims, upon encountering the nekomata, would be attacked, killed, then eaten by the beast. While its appearance were still uncertain, most descriptions of this monster were still quite scary.
Another trick that the demon cat would do in order to kill more people is to transform into human form. They are not limited to only a single human body. This means that they can transform into anyone, even into a person’s mother or relative. Once they are able to trick the victim into thinking that it is a loved one in danger and the victim gets closer, the nekomata would attack the victim unguarded.
On the other hand, there is also another type of nekomata, which is the domesticated nekomata. Kittens that were raised inside homes would grow into the normal house cats. However, it is believed by some people that these house cats would gradually develop certain powers that would enable them to entrance their owners. They would then turn into nekomata and leave the house to travel to the mountains, where they would join their mountain counterparts, kill, and eat humans.
Sadly, this folklore has affected the lives of many cats whose owners believe in this mythology. For it was believed that only domesticated cats turned into nekomata, a number of the feline species would be left out in the cold after reaching a certain age. While this is a sad and cruel outcome for the cats, it was deemed necessary by believers in order to prevent the transformation of the cats into nekomata.
Another skill or power of this devil cat was believed to be the ability to talk to the dead. Not only that, the nekomata was also said to be able to control the dead and use this to torment human beings. They would do this just to spread mischief and to cause misery among humans. A trick that they would do to further torment a person is to taunt them with the visions of their loved ones who have already passed away. On the other hand, it is said that they only generally do this to the people who have caused them harm while the cats were still alive.
Due to their many powers, it is said that the nekomata have enslaved humans by blackmailing them. Another way for them to kill humans other than eating them is by causing chaos and large fires. They would find great pleasure in wreaking havoc among humans. The cruelty of the nekomata truly is unparalleled. Tormenting humans just for fun and seeing them suffer is not something a creature with conscience can do.
One person, as a matter of course, retained his 'nekomata.' The fact is, he required something in the way of folly -- if only to counterbalance the heavy wisdom of his drinking buddies -- not to mention himself.
But, as I have already observed, the nekomatas, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, resemble all cats, but with a split tail -- so that it was no small source of self-gratulation with the man that, in Fujio (this was the nekomata's name), he possessed a triplicate treasure in one person. I believe the name 'Fujio' was not that given to the feline by his sponsors at baptism, but it was conferred upon him, by general consent of the man, that in one account, Fujio's magical abilities revolve around manipulating the dead, death, the death-force and/or souls for good (resurrecting the dead), evil (in various ways) or neither. He can also communicate with the deceased – either by summoning their spirit as an apparition or raising them bodily – for the purpose of divination, imparting the means to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge.
He also finds a way to cheat death one way or another, whether by becoming some form of undead creature or by bypassing their own ability to die. Fujio can also can create, shape and manipulate fire, the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products, flame being the visible portion of the fire. Depending on the substances alight, and any impurities outside, the color of the flame and the fire's intensity will be different.
I am not able to say, with precision, from what part of Japan Fujio originally came. It was from Sendai -- a vast distance from the home of our man, who is from Tokyo. Fujio, and a young teenage girl very little less magical than himself (although of exquisite proportions, and a marvelous dancer), had been forcibly carried off from their respective homes in adjoining provinces, and sent as presents to the man, by one of his crooked, but, ever-victorious friends. As the two captives chatted and showed each other the talents they possessed, they quickly became close friends.
The man (I don't know his name for he's a complete stranger to me) is a very, very wicked man. He's been in trouble with the law for quite sometime, and not once did he ever stop drinking and picking fights. Everyone in Tokyo knew about the crimes he and his friends pulled, and they definitely knew about the 'incident' with some school girls. Now, he and his partners-in-crime are laying low until the heat was off, and are sitting at the table as they drank some Sake.
Sake is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran. Despite the name, unlike wine, in which alcohol is produced by fermenting sugar that is naturally present in fruit (typically grapes), sake is produced by a brewing process more akin to that of beer, where starch is converted into sugars, which ferment into alcohol.
As they sat there and drank, they thought about what to do. Today was January 1st and they needed something to do around New Years Eve. So the only thing to do was to call for Fujio.
The man knew Fujio wasn't very fond with alcohol for it excites the feline almost to insanity, and insanity is never a very good feeling. But since this douche really loves to make an ass out of everyone (including animals), he thought it would be funny to see Fujio drunk. He looked over at Fujio, who's glancing out the window.
"Come here Fujio", said the man, the nekomata did as he was told, walking on two of his hind legs, "swallow this Sake for the health of your absent families. We want characters, characters my friend, something exciting, out of the blue! We are weary of this everlasting boredom. Come, drink! The Sake will brighten your wits!"
The man poured a large glass of Sake and handed it to the nekomata, who took it and looked at it. Today was the nekomata's birthday, and to drink for his 'absent families' brought the tears to his eyes. Large, bitter drops fell into the glass. Then, Fujio placed the glass into his felid lips, and drank the Sake.
"Hahaha!" The man laughed, "See what a good beer can do? Why your eyes are shining already!"
Poor fellow. His large, almond-shaped eyes seemed to be glanced over more than shone. He placed the cup down and glanced around the room with a half, insane stare. His faint breathing began to hitch as his eyes began to spin.
"And now to business." said one of the crooks, a short, bald man.
"Yes." replied the man, "Come my fine fellow, we stand in need of characters - all of us! Hahahaha!"
Since this was taken as a joke, the man's cackles was chorused by the other criminals. Fujio laughed a bit as well, but it was from his intoxication and didn't know what was going on.
"Come come," said the man impatiently, "have you nothing to suggest?"
"I am endeavoring to think of something exciting."
The man raised his eyebrow at the cat's response, "Endeavoring?! What do you mean by that? Ah, I perceive. You are Sulky and want more Sake. Here, drink this!" The man poured another glass and handed it to the nekomata, who merely gazed at it, gasping for breath. "Go on," urged the bastard, "I haven't got all day."
The crooks then smirk at the site. The girl, Kaneda was here name, saw this and went over to the man and pleaded for him to stop.
The man saw this and didn't know what to do or say. This was not common for anyone, including women, to grovel at his feet. Usually they'd knock his teeth out or call the emperor's men to take him to the dungeon, lock him in a cell and throw away the key. He thought about what to do at this point, and looked at his merry band of goons, then back at Kaneda. Finally, without uttering a single syllable, he shoved her violently from him and splashed the contents of the Sake into her face. She then slowly got up, without daring to shed any tears, and made her way at the foot of the table.
There was a dead silence for just a few moments, so much that a pin dropping could be audible. Then suddenly, there came a low, dull, grading sound that admitted out of nowhere, so loud that it bounced off the walls and almost shook the entire house.
"Wha -- Wha -- What are you making that noise for?" demanded the man, turning furiously to the nekomata.
The latter seemed to have recovered, in great measure, from his intoxication, and looking fixedly but quietly into the monster's face, merely ejaculated:
"I -- I? How could it have been me?"
"The sound appeared to come from without," observed one of the crooks. "I fancy it was a mere tremor shaking the Earth."
"True," replied the drunkard, as if much relieved by the suggestion; "but, on the honor of a samurai, I could have sworn that it was the gritting of this devil's teeth."
Hereupon the cat laughed and displayed a set of fangs. Moreover, he avowed his perfect willingness to swallow as much Sake as desired. The man was pacified; and having drained another glass with no very perceptible ill effect, Fujio entered at once, and with spirit, into the plans for New Years Eve.
""I cannot tell what was the association of the idea," observed Fujio, very tranquilly, and as if he had never tasted alcohol in his life, "but just after this gentleman, had struck the girl and thrown the alcohol in her face -- just after this man had done this, and while the tremor was making that odd noise, there came into my mind a capital diversion -- one of my own species' traditional frolics -- often enacted among us, at our festivals: but here it will be new altogether. Unfortunately, however, it requires a company of six persons and-"
"Here we are!" cried the man, laughing at his acute discovery of the coincidence; "six to a fraction -- I and my five friends. Come! what is the diversion?"
"We call it," replied the cripple, "the Six Onis, and it really is an excellent sport if well enacted."
"We will enact it," remarked the man, drawing himself up, and lowering his eyelids.
"The beauty of the game," continued Fujio, "lies in the fright it occasions among the women."
"Capital!" roared the man as he began to have a huge smile on his face.
"I will equip you as onis," proceeded the nekomata; "leave all that to me. The resemblance shall be so striking, that the company of partiers will take you for real ogres -- and of course, they will be as much terrified as astonished."
"Oh, this is exquisite!" exclaimed the man. "Fujio! I will make you immortal."
"The stilts are for the purpose of making you taller. You are supposed to have escaped, en masse, from the gates of Hell. This man here cannot conceive the effect produced, at a the festival, by six onis, imagined to be real ones by most of the company; and rushing in with savage cries, among the crowd of delicately and gorgeously habited men and women. The contrast is inimitable!"
"It must be," said the man: and the other criminals arose hurriedly (as it was growing late), to put in execution the scheme of Fujio.
His mode of equipping the party as onis was very simple, but effective enough for his purposes. The ogres in question are, at the epoch of my story, one the greatest icons of Japanese folklore. They are large and hellish, standing taller than the tallest man, and sometimes many times that. They come in many varieties, but are most commonly depicted with red or blue skin, wild hair, two or more horns, and fang-like tusks. Other variations exist in different colors and with different numbers of horns, eyes, or fingers and toes. They wear loincloths made of the pelts of great beasts. All oni possess extreme strength and constitution, and many of them are also accomplished sorcerers. They are ferocious demons, bringers of disaster, spreaders of disease, and punishers of the damned in Hell.
The men and his gang were first painted red and blue while dressed in animal pelts. They suggested wearing masks, but Fujio corrected them by saying that all they needed are the tusks of boars and some wigs to be a part of the illusion. To complete the costumes, Fujio put them on stilts and hid the poles in some six pares of ragged pants (where the leggings were sown in by the nekomata to make them look taller).
To make the illusion perfect, Fujio splash some varnish all over the streets, to make the people think the onis are nearby.
Prior to the Meiji period, the date of the Japanese New Year had been based on Japanese versions of lunisolar calendar (the last of which was the Tenpō calendar) and, prior to Jōkyō calendar, the Chinese versions. However, in 1873, five years after the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar and the first day of January became the official and cultural New Year's Day in Japan. Japanese people eat a selection of dishes during the New Year celebration called osechi-ryōri, typically shortened to osechi. Many of these dishes are sweet, sour, or dried, so they can keep without refrigeration—the culinary traditions date to a time before households had refrigerators, when most stores closed for the holidays. There are many variations of osechi, and some foods eaten in one region are not eaten in other places (or are considered inauspicious or even banned) on New Year's Day. Another popular dish is ozōni, a soup with mochi rice cake and other ingredients that differ based on various regions of Japan. Today, sashimi and sushi are often eaten, as well as non-Japanese foods. To let the overworked stomach rest, seven-herb rice soup (nanakusa-gayu) is prepared on the seventh day of January, a day known as jinjitsu.
Another custom is to create and eat rice cakes (mochi). Boiled sticky rice (mochigome) is put into a wooden container usu and patted with water by one person while another person hits it with a large wooden mallet. Mashing the rice, it forms a sticky white dumpling. This is made before New Year's Day and eaten during the beginning of January.
Mochi is made into a New Year's decoration called kagami mochi, formed from two round cakes of mochi with a tangerine (daidai) placed on top. The name daidai is supposed to be auspicious since it means "several generations." At midnight on December 31, Buddhist temples all over Japan ring their bells a total of 108 times (joyanokane) to symbolize the 108 human sins in Buddhist belief, and to get rid of the 108 worldly desires regarding sense and feeling in every Japanese citizen. A major attraction is The Watched Night bell, in Tokyo. Japanese believe that the ringing of bells can rid their sins during the previous year. The bell is rung 107 times on 31st and once past midnight. It is also very common to eat buckwheat noodles called toshikoshi soba on the New Year's Eve.
The Six Onis, taking Fujio's advice, waited patiently until midnight (when the streets was thoroughly filled with partiers) before making their appearance. No sooner had the clock ceased striking, however, than they rushed out of the shadows with heavy strides due to the stilts, shrieking like savages and flailing their arms to petrify them.
The excitement among the partiers was prodigious, and filled the heart of the man with glee. As had been anticipated, there were not a few of the crowd who supposed the ferocious-looking creatures to be demons of some kind in reality, if not precisely onis. Many of the women swooned with affright; and had not the officers taken the precaution to exclude all weapons from the streets, the party might soon have expiated their frolic in their blood.
While the tumult was at its height, and each partier attentive only to his own safety (for, in fact, there was much real danger from the pressure of the excited crowd), Fujio, who had followed noiselessly at the onis' heels, inciting them to keep up the commotion, climbed onto the rooftops and enchanted the nearby cemetery and arose a couple of skeletons, who ran over and held onto the stilts of the six maskers.
The partiers, by this time, had recovered, in some measure, from their alarm; and, beginning to regard the whole matter as a well-contrived pleasantry, set up a loud shout of laughter at the predicament of the onis.
"Leave them to me!" now screamed Fujio, his shrill voice making itself easily heard through all the din as he cuffed his mouth. "Leave them to me. I fancy I know them. If I can only get a good look at them, I can soon tell who they are."
Here, diving down from the rooftops and scrambling over the heads of the crowd, he managed to get to the wall; when, seizing a torch from the ground where one of the onis trotted. As he went to the center of the streets-leaping, with the agility of a panther upon the mans head, and thence clambered a few feet up a nearby tree; holding down the torch to examine the group of onis, and still screaming: "I shall soon find out who they are!"
And now, while the whole assembly (the onis included) were convulsed with laughter, the nekomata suddenly uttered a shrill whistle; when the skeletons (still grasping the stilts) hoisted them up and placed them in front of Fujio. The nekomata, clinging to the tree branch, still maintained his relative position in respect to the six maskers, and still (as if nothing were the matter) continued to thrust his torch down toward them, as though endeavoring to discover who they were.
So thoroughly astonished was the whole company at this ascent, that a dead silence, of about a minute's duration, ensued. It was broken by just such a low, harsh, grating sound, as had before attracted the attention of the man and his gang when the former threw the Sake in the face of Kaneda. But, on the present occasion, there could be no question as to whence the sound issued. It came from the fangs of the nekomata, who ground them and gnashed them as he foamed at the mouth, and glared, with an expression of maniacal rage, into the upturned countenances of the man and his five companions.
"Ah, ha!" said at length the infuriated nekomata. "Ah, ha! I begin to see who these people are now!" Here, pretending to scrutinize the man more closely, he 'accidently' drops the torch onto the street in front of the six maskers. The next thing they knew, as the torch made in contact with the varnish, the entire road was engulfed in flames.
A river of fire began to spread as the people scrambled to be out of the flames way, unlike the six maskers who are enveloped (due to the paint on their bodies and the wooden stilts) as they shrieked in agony as they flailed around, trying to put the flames out. In less than half a minute the whole six onis were blazing fiercely, amid the shrieks of the multitude who gazed at them, horror-stricken, and without the power to render them the slightest assistance.
At length the flames, suddenly increasing in virulence, forced the nekomata to climb higher up the tree, to be out of their reach; and, as he made this movement, the crowd again sank, for a brief instant, into silence. The nekomata seized his opportunity, and once more spoke:
"I now see distinctly," he said, "what manner of people these maskers are. They are a criminal and his five henchmen, -- a criminal who does not scruple to strike a defenseless girl and his five crooks who abet him in the outrage. As for myself, I am simply Fujio, the nekomata -- and this is my revenge."
Owing to the high combustibility of both the paint and the varnish to which it adhered, the nekomata had scarcely made an end of his brief rant before the work of vengeance was complete. The six corpses laid on the burning road, a fetid, blackened, hideous, and skeletal mess. The cat hurled his torch at them, clambered leisurely to the rooftops, and disappeared into the night.
It is supposed that Kaneda, stationed on one of the rooftops, had been the accomplice of her friend in his fiery revenge, and that, together, they effected their escape to their own country: for neither was seen again.
This is a Japanese version of my favorite Edgar Allan Poe story of all time, Hop-Frog, so please don't take this seriously. But do remember that I'm doing this in honor of my favorite poet, and hopefully it helps resemble Edgar Allan Poe's work.
If you like or dislike it, let me know in the comment section below and let me know. Hope you guys have a scary day!