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"Shiryō" from the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Sekien Toriyama

Shiryō (死霊) in Japanese is a word for the souls of the dead. It is the antonym of Ikiryō (souls of the living).[1]


Classical literature and folklore material has left many mentions of shiryō, and they have various behaviors. According to the Kōjien, they were considered onryō (vengeful spirits) that possess humans and perform a tatari (a type of curse),[1][2] but other than possessing humans and making them suffer like ikiryō do, there are also stories where they chase around those who killed themselves, loiter around the place they died, appear to people they are close to and greet them, and try to kill those who they are close to in order to bring them to the other world.[3]

In the Tōno Monogatari, there was a story in which a man died, and afterward, his shiryō appeared before his daughter, and tried to take her away. The daughter became afraid, and she was able to get relatives and friends to come, but even then the father's shiryō appeared to try to take her away, and it is said that after one month, he finally stopped appearing.[4][5]


  1. ^ a b 新村出 編 (1991). 広辞苑 (第4版 ed.). 岩波書店. pp. 1311頁. ISBN 978-4-00-080101-0.
  2. ^ 新村出編 (1991). 広辞苑 (第5版 ed.). 岩波書店. pp. 1360頁. ISBN 978-4-00-080111-9.
  3. ^ 今野円輔 (2004). 日本怪談集 幽霊篇. 中公文庫. . 中央公論新社. pp. 13–38頁. ISBN 978-4-12-204465-4.
  4. ^ 柳田國男 (2004). "遠野物語拾遺". 遠野物語. 角川ソフィア文庫. 角川書店. pp. 153頁. ISBN 978-4-04-308320-6.
  5. ^ 今野円輔 (2004). 日本怪談集 幽霊篇. 中公文庫. . 中央公論新社. pp. 194–195頁. ISBN 978-4-12-204464-7.

See also[edit]