Horror & Mystery Series Vol. 22: Stories from Direct Experience - Reishu

After translating and researching about Horror & Mystery in Japan for half a year, I think it is time I share some of the mysterious experiences I have while living in Japan. I can vouch that all of these are real, but it is up to you to believe or not…

*Due to some difficulty, the article about Sugawara no Michizane is postponed for later.


When I came to Japan, I have been paying respect to the local deities at shrines from the bottom of my heart; to blend in and immerse myself in Japanese culture. But then a side effect started.

Floral Scents

My nose started getting sensitive, I could smell something earlier or farther than my friends. Then I started to smell something else, and sometimes people around me would smell something too, especially around me.

In Japanese it is called Reishu (霊臭 spiritual scent). I first noticed a pleasant scent of wild flowers when visiting a shrine in Hakone with friends. Only two out of three smelled that scent.

That pleasant Scent at Shrines

That pleasant Scent at Shrines

Then I went with a group tour to a shrine in Mito that was claimed to be the most powerful power-spot; the very cave that Amaterasu O-Mikami was hiding in grief according to Japanese Mythology. From the moment I walked in, I smelled incense, even though the main hall was deep down into the wood. There was no incense burner, and only two of us smelled it; an older guide and me. I talked to others, and one of the younger guides also smelled it for a moment as I talked to her about the strange things in the place.

Since then, my nose has become increasingly sensitive. Scientifically, I thought it was the effect of hunger (I have only two meals a day) and that I could just smell the leftover scents like dogs do. But I looked up and found the word Reishu (霊臭) in some occult website. It is said to be one of Reikan, even though it is not about the sight or the sound.

Do you have a Guardian Spirit?

Do you have a Guardian Spirit?

I was not sure about being able to smell Reishu until one incident in the office. A colleague asked me if she has a guardian spirit (守護霊 Shugorei). I said I could not see, but I can smell one. Perhaps 3 seconds later, she said she smelled a candle’s smoke, and right after that I smelled it too. At first, we thought someone was preparing surprise birthday cake or something, but after waiting and confirming around, there was not a single candle in the office. More importantly, only two of us smelled the scent.

We could only conclude that it was her guardian spirit answering to her question.

A Strange Visit

A Strange Visit

This happened when I was finishing Vol. 17, “the Wrath of Taira no Masakado”. I paid a visit to the grave and the shrine before writing Vol. 16, asking for permission and forgiveness in advance and promised to deliver the story. I finished the draft and was about to finish the main image that night, but I got home late, so I went straight to sleep; the image was at a rough sketch process.

I woke up feeling a presence to my left along with a smell of incense. Perhaps it was 3 or 4 AM. It was a good smell, so I assume it was a benevolent being, or perhaps the deified Taira no Masakado himself, but I cannot say for sure. I promised to finish the drawing the first thing when I go to office. And I did so. That night, I slept peacefully after two weeks of nervousness.

Premonition Scent?

Premonition Scent?

In one afternoon at the office, I kept smelling burnt food or something since 2 PM. It was so strong that my nose hurt, and I had to use a tabletop fan to get rid of the scent. Yet no one around me seemed to notice the smell, so I thought someone else sitting at my table messed up with breakfast or went to yakiniku lunch and I picked up the leftover scent. I did not say a word about it.

Around 5.45 PM, firetrucks’ siren was heard. Then around 6PM, there was an announcement that the building caught fire: the very building I was on. Some colleagues walked through my table and smelled the burnt scent from the air condition’s vent: but only at my table. The fire was already extinguished but for safety check, we had to evacuate, so we packed up and left through the stairs.

I smelled the same burnt scent I had since 2PM on the way down.

I later found out the fire started from natural combustion of construction materials stored at second floor, around 4PM.

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[Survey] Traveling to Japan