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Nojukubi

By on July 18, 2019, in Ehon hyakumonogatari, fire, forest, mountain, Patreon, yōkai

野宿火
のじゅくび

TRANSLATION: wilderness inhabiting fire
HABITAT: rural roads, mountain paths, and abandoned campsites

APPEARANCE: Just as a campfire leaves behind embers which smolder and glow long after the fire has died, human activity can leave behind “embers”—lingering traces of energy which remain for some time after an event has taken place. Nojukubi is a mysterious fire which ignites and extinguishes on its own. It appears most often in the spring just after the season of cherry blossom viewing parties, or in the fall after the season of fall foliage viewing parties. It is most commonly found on roadsides or in the mountains, along routes where people go on excursions or hikes. It takes the form of a thin streak of flame which appears out of nowhere.

BEHAVIOR: Nojukubi is most commonly found in wilderness areas from which humans have recently left. These bizarre fires flare up suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, and just as quickly extinguish for no reason, even when they appear to be burning strong. They reignite and extinguish themselves over and over.

Nojukubi exhibits a number of strange qualities which distinguish it from ordinary campfires. It appears more frequently just after it stops raining, unhindered by the dampness. It does not give off any heat. It does not consume wood or kindling as it burns, and it does not spread like a normal fire does. Perhaps strangest of all, witnesses of nojukubi report that human voices can be heard having conversations or reciting poetry and songs from within the flames—remnants of the lively activity which took place earlier.

ORIGIN: Nojukubi appears in the Edo Period yokai collection Ehon hyakumonogatari, where it is noted as being a phenomenon separate from kitsunebi or Sōgenbi. Other sources describe it as a type of onibi.