Yōkai; The Shirime

尻目 – Shirime (bum eye)

In the run up to halloween, I want to introduce you to the strange and wonderful world of the yōkai.

The story of the Shirime starts with a lone samurai walking to Kyoto. On hearing someone calling to him he turns to find a naked man, ass up. From where the man’s poop chute should be a HUGE GLITTERING EYE opens.

The famous haiku poet and artist Yosa Buson liked the story so much he included the Shirime in many of his yōkai pictures, like the one above.



Namakubikakejiku, An Edo jidai portrait of an executed criminal (possibly a samurai). These pictures were posted as a warning. The red was painted in the executed’s blood.

When this picture was shown on TV, it was noticed that the eyes seemed to be opening and moving during the segment.

Human accidents

When this,

is a daily part of your life, its easy to see how it can lead to this,

Last week I rode the Chuo line, (for those of you not familiar with that fucking line, it is one of the busiest/suicidalist lines in Tokyo). BOTH directions were stopped because of two SEPERATE suicides at different stations at roughly the same time and yesterday my train line home was delayed to the point of having to get a bus!

Suicide by train (Jishinjiko 自身事故, literally human accident) is a huge problem in the capital. With long hours, isolated city lives and the romanticism of suicide, many train lines have installed defense barriers, calming blue lights and one station (after a particulary depressing few months) piped in classical music. A survey conducted by the Ministry of Health concluded that one in four people under the age of 35 had contemplated suicide. In 2009, suicide was the leading cause of death among men age 20–44 and is still the leading cause of death for women age 15–34 in Japan.

Suicide has a long history in Japan. A samurai would be expected to commit seppuku instead of being captured or disgraced. The act has never been made illegal and is more often than not seen as the morally responsible action. In 2007 after Cabinet minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka took his life after being exposed for defrauding his expense account
called him “a true samurai”.

Suicide clean-up squads are paid hundreds of dollars an hour to *shower* down trains, their first day quitting rate is somewhere around 70%.

Many people choose trains as they do not wish to burden their family with the mess, the ironic fact is that families are charged by the minute for train delays, the circle style Yamanote Line reportedly charges upwards of a million yen a minute, but rail companies refuse to officially release their suicide price list.

The worst part, is that it causes the most MIND NUMBING delays. On a Tuesday evening when all you want to do is get home and relax, the last thing you need is a wait in a crowded sweaty train.

If you hang around Tokyo long enough you are more than likely to see or be inconvenienced by someone just not being able to take it anymore. And I’ve heard that if you are in the first carriage………..you feel it.