the online database of Japanese folklore

Suzuri no tamashii


Translation: inkstone spirit

Appearance: An ink stone which has been used to copy the same manuscript over and over again for many generations begins to take on aspects of the story itself. Suzuri no tamashii can manifest phantom sounds and illusory characters from the story, which arise from the ink and wreak havoc on the writing desk.

Behavior: Suzuri no tamashii echo the brutal slaughter from when the Taira clan was wiped out in the final battle of the Genpei War. When used, they produce sounds like the echo of the sea, the din of battle, and the screams of warriors. The ink inside begins to ripple and billow like the sea’s waves, and tiny boats and soldiers materialize out of the ink.

Origin: One of the most bloody tales of old Japan deals with the civil war between the Taira and Minamoto clans, known as the Genpei War. In the final naval battle of the war, the entire Taira clan was brutally wiped out. Many of the slaughtered Taira soldiers transformed into onryō, and their grudge-curse infects the ink stones which have been used to repeatedly copy their story.

Alphabetical list of yōkai