Theatrical Yokai

In a class of mine, we are writing Yokai ghost stories to go along with Yokai characters that we designed ourselves. Yokai are ghosts and spirits of ancient Japanese culture. My Yokai is a candle that is both mischievous and helpful. When you meet it, it makes a deal with you and if you break that deal, it burns your most prized possession, but if you keep it, it will light the way and guide you in times of need.

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Japanese Yokai creatures

Here’s my story:

My name is Hino Kitsunebi, but my former masters called me Chisana Hono. I served the Choshi family that lived in Mimasaka, of decent wealth. I brought them children, fortune, and affluence for many, many generations, until a young man by the name of Raiden rewrote my story.

Now, I am not a typical servant, I serve one family and remain faithful as long as the family does the same. This can last many generations, as it did in my case. I am a candle, to light the way and guide your decisions in times of need. I will make a deal with you, to which you must hold fast, or I will burn your most prized possession and bad fortune will be brought upon your descendants.

In the Choshi family, I had aided decisions as to whether or not my current master should move his family, marry off his daughters, and similar questions through the years. In return, I only asked to remain inside my candleholder, and that I stay in the family’s service as long as their family line continues. Life is so lonely without a family to serve, and with no purpose my flame burns out.

Both ends of the promise had been kept until Raiden came in possession of the family belongings. His parents, my previous masters, had died of sudden disease and had not yet told Raiden of my power over his family. Raiden, unknowing of my worth, cast me out and gave my candle holder I had lived in for years to his new wife as a housewarming gift. I was dishonored, but gave Raiden a chance to redeem himself, as he was not yet aware of my power.

I had lived in my candle holder for I had no base, and burned forever unless I didn’t have a family to serve. I flew in through the window of their humble home and found my candle holder, only to find it had been replaced with an ordinary candle. Furious, I flew to Raiden, and warned him of the devastation he could cause, pleading my case. He had almost understood until his wife, that wicked woman, told him I was speaking nonsense, and dismissed me as an annoying spirit. I have no power over my flame when I become angered, and my flame grew and grew until it swallowed Raiden’s wife in flames.

Having proved my point, the flame subsided, and once again I pleaded my case to Raiden. His deceased wife had filled his head with nonsense that I was nothing but a nuisance, I tried to show him how I had aided his family in the past, but he would not have it and eventually I became uncontrollably angry. How dare he not listen to my story? How dare he remove me from my beloved home and give it to that witch of a wife? In my anger I consumed the house with flame, burning all but my candle holder and Raiden, for I wanted revenge.

I cursed him, making him unable to have children, and immediately regretted it. I returned to my candle holder, and when Raiden died with no children to carry on the family name, my flame slowly fizzled out.

I still wait in my candle holder, at the site of the burning house. Waiting, waiting, waiting, for someone to once again light my candle and take the risk of bargaining with fire.

I wanted to improve my story, so I thought what better way to improve it than to make it into a performance? My first (and I think best) thought would be to have a narrator in the corner read the story while actors and actresses act it out silently in the background. The candle would be represented by a light in the candle holder and flying around. There would also be light music in the background to match the scene. My second idea would be to make it an actual play, and have each character have lines. The actor playing the candle would “break the fourth wall” to inform the audience of important background information. My last idea (and one of the worst, in my opinon) would be to turn the story into a Bunraku performance, which is a puppet show in Japan.

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