Supernatural Abductions in Japanese Folklore
BYCARMEN LACKERCambridge University
THE THEMEThe belief that children may in an unguarded moment
kidnapped by a subtle and malignant enemy of supernaturaldescription is a fairly widespread one throughout the world.
western Europe fairies and korrigans were widely credited withpowers of abducting babies, leaving in their place a hideouschangeling with a huge appetite and misshapen head. In Japana rather similar belief in supernatural kidnapping s~lrvived nmany districts until modern times.
boy or young man whounaccountably disappeared frorn his home was assumed to benot lost but
to be the victim of kamigakushi or abductionby a god.
all reasonable search for hinl proved fruitless itwas concluded that some god or goblin had carried him off toits own realm. In such emergencies the whole village consideredit a duty to turn out at sunset with lanterns, and to march roundin procession, banging loudly on bells and drunis and shouting,"Bring him back, bring him back
If these measures failed to bring the child back within afixed period of time, the relatives could as a last resort requesta miko or white witch to recite appropriate spells. If these intheir turn did not prove efficacious within seven days the childwas given up as hopelessly lost.Not infrequently however, as a number of stories both oraland literary attest, the measures were fully justified by success.Suddenly and without warning, the tales run, the child reap-pears, deathly pale, in some oddly inaccessible place such as theeaves of the local temple or the space between the ceiling andthe roof of his own house. For several days he lies in a dazed