The Botan Dōrō or Tales of the Peony Lantern is a ghost story told since the Ming dynasty in China to today. Most popular through the Kaidan theater plays, it is now one of Japan’s most well known ghost stories.

Another dark, yet poetic love story of a ghost. The Botan Dōrō, or, the peony lantern was a story that became popular in Japan during the 17th century in the Edo era. It was really a Chinese tale, but the Japanese adapted it as their own with the writer Asai Ryoi.

The story is set during Obon, a three day festival of the dead in the late summer, and the living pays tribute to their ancestors. Kaidan (ghost stories) was immensely popular during this era, especially during Obon.

The Story

A long time ago in the Nezu district of Tokyo, the first night of Obon was upon them. This is when the spirits are welcomed back into our world and guided home, a man named Ogiwara was out walking. In some versions he is a student, in others, he is a widowed samurai. He noticed a beautiful woman carrying a peony lantern by his house.

Her name was Otsuyu. Over the festival the two fell more and more in love in the light by the lantern. And every night she came back to him.

A neighbor however was growing worried for the young man. One night he visited the boy, peeping through the window. There he saw the man in the arms, not of a young and beautiful woman, but a skeleton.

Almost fainting of shook, he got on his way, running to get a Buddhist priest to help the man. When the priest and the neighbor came the following day, they told the man about this and decided to throw a protective spell over the house. Not really believing until he saw it with his own eyes, he waited to the following night.

Advertisements

When Otsuyu together with her servant came to the door crying, banging on the door, he understood that it was all true. She was indeed dead. She reminded him again and again for their love for each other.

The mans health grew worse and worse, he only felt sorrow and a longing for the thing they had. One night he couldn’t resist his longing anymore. He lifted the protection charm and let them in.

When the neighbor once again came to check on him, there was not only one dead person in the room, but two. His soul taken away at the end of the Obon festival, back to the spirit world.

Another Haunted Play?

The story was based on the Chinese book Jiandeng Xinhua (New Tales Under the Lamplight), a collection of ghost stories from the Ming Dynasty (1378), telling of Karma and Buddhist traditions.

But just as in the Kaidan theater play of Yotsuya Kaidan, there is said to be a curse on the ones playing the parts. This is from an events in 1919 when the play was set up in the Imperial Theater. The actresses playing Otsuyu and her maid both became sick and died withing a week of each other.

Advertisements

More like this

Newest Posts

  • Hauntingly Beelitz-Heilstätten Hospital
    The abandoned sanatorium in Germany is said to be haunted by all those souls that died inside of it because of its dark history. And in the Beelitz-Heilstätten Hospital, it wasn’t just sick people who ended up dying, but several murders took place in it or around it as well. 
  • The Eternal Guest at Radisson Blu Hotel
    Before it was renovated, the staff working at Radisson Blu Hotel in Bergen kept seeing the same ghostly guest over and over that never checked out. 
  • The Viking Ghost at Stokksnes Beach
    On Stokksnes Beach in Iceland you can sometimes see the ghost of a drowned viking coming up from the ocean to haunt the black beach. 
  • Apollonia Schwartzkopf the Ghost at Bessastadir
    No place is free from a haunting on Iceland, not even the official house for the president known as Bessastadir were the ghost of a woman named Apollonia Schwartzkopf haunts the house after maybe have been the victim of poison.
  • The Burning Skeleton in Venice
    In Cannaregio district in the city of Venice, there is a burning skeleton of a mean man that is cursed to haunt the city around Campo de l’Abazia. 
  • Ghosts of Mary King’s Close
    Scratching sounds from the chimney, plague victims left for dead and floating heads, the haunted underground of alleyways known as Mary King’s Close haunts under the city. 
  • Kuchisake-onna – The Urban Legend of the Slit-Mouthed Woman
    In the dimly lit alleys in urban Japan, a woman wearing a mask is terrorizing the children walking home from late school. When she reveals her carved up mouth, it’s over. Kuchisake-onna, or The Slit-Mouthed Woman will get her revenge.
  • The Palatine Light and the Ghost Ship Behind it
    In the cold night right before the New Years, the light of a ghost ship can be seen outside the shores of Rhode Island known as The Palatine Light. The terrible fate of the wrecked ship still haunts the sea. 
  • Top Zombie TV-Series
    The zombie genre doesn’t seem to die down anytime soon as it keeps coming back with a twist or a different angle and production value. These are some of the Top Zombie TV-Series with zombies from around the world.
  • Edinburgh Castle Ghosts and Legends
    Witches, dragons and ghosts, Edinburgh castle are said to have it all. The sound of bagpipe and drummers can be heard without anyone playing, and those accused for witchcraft as well as prisoners of wars are said to haunt the old castle.
  • Haunted Spirits at The Banshee Labyrinth Pub
    The metal bar called the Banshee Labyrinth is located in parts of the haunted underground vaults of Edinburgh. And today the place has some haunted stories to tell as well. Everything from ghost children, accused witches, irish folklore creatures and an annoying ghost in the ladies toilet, this pub houses them all.
  • Books Written by Ghosts
    Ghost writers or ghost novels? These books and the mediums that penned them claim that they were actually written by famous writers. 

Leave a Reply