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Kamikakushi (神隠し) is a word that has been in Japanese culture for hundreds of years. It means “hidden by kami (god, deity, divinity, tengu, yamanba, oni, fox, or spirit)”, and often translated to “spirited away.” You may have heard of Hayato Miyazaki’s movie.

Even in the present day, many people disappear in a blink of an eye (一瞬に isshunni). And we call such incidents kamikakushi. Historically, the Japanese have been fascinated by this – many folklores (民話 minwa) have been shared, and of course, many people know the movie “Spirited Away” by Hayato Miyazaki. Every year, many special TV programs are produced asking the public to call in any information on missing persons. Usually, former FBI investigators and psychic investigators from overseas are invited to assist investigations. As you can see, the programs are often viewed as entertainment at the expense (〜を犠牲にして 〜wo giseinishite) of victims’ families. But some victims’ families do participate just to keep the news alive. TV producers also use actors/actresses as amnesia patients, asking the public to help to identify them.

Viewers are interested in the stories especially when the missing persons disappeared at the wink of an eye. Recently, a young child disappeared at a wink of an eye at a campground without a trace. So kamikakushi is not a classical word but is very much used nowadays.

In folklore, foxes (狐 kitsune) and tanuki-dogs (狸 tanuki) also are blamed to be tricksters (いたずら者 itazuramono) and lead people into a mysterious world momentarily. Do you play Animal Crossing, New Horizon on Nintendo Switch? You see Redd (Tsunekichi) always tries to con you. And some argue that Tom Nook (Tanukichi) is the biggest scammer.

Takashi Uchiyama, in his book …continue reading