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Photo: TARUMI Kengo

A kind of trickster believed to be found in every part of Okinawa. It is also called sēma or bunagaya in the northern area of the main island. Based on many stories told, it has the appearance of a red-faced, red-haired child and lives in the hollow of large old trees such as the gajumaru (banyans). It loves fishing but hates octopus. It also has a particular like for the left eye of any fish it catches. At times, it walks along the foot of the hills or the beach carrying a torch (this is known as the kijimunābi1). It also approaches a sleeping person only to press his or her chest, making it impossible for the person to get up; just like the kanashibari known in mainland Japan. We hear stories of some building fortunes having befriended a kijimunā, while others ended up chasing it away by throwing an octopus when their friendship went sour. There are now fewer recent reports of kijimunā yet people have nonetheless built an observatory for the sole purpose of finding them. Kijimunā, will you please come out again?

Besides kijimunā, another interesting Okinawan sprite is uwāmajimun. This is a piglet goblin that runs at top speed on the road at night. It is rather cute but if it ever runs between your legs, it will take your mabui2 away. So if you see one, stand still, keep your legs together, and whatever you do, don’t move.

Editor’s Note:

  1. Kijimunā flame.
  2. Soul.