Definition of Yurei


Yūrei (幽霊) in Japanese folklore, is a spirit kept away from a peaceful afterlife. If a person dies in a sudden or violent manner, as during a murder or a suicide, if the funeral rites are not performed correctly, or if he or she is influenced by strong emotions as a desire for vengeance, love, jealousy, hatred or sadness, the Reikon (霊魂 = soul), according to popular belief, become a Yūrei and remains among the living.
The Yūrei can be classified into six kinds, depending on how they died. The Ubume (産女) are women who died in childbirth, or died leaving young children behind. They returns to care for their children, often, to bring them sweets. The Zashiki-warashi (座敷童/座敷童子) are ghosts of children. They are not really dangerous. Most of the time, they just seek for companionship. The Funayūrei (船幽霊) are ghosts of those who died at sea. The Onryō (怨霊) (the most common kind of Yūrei in the media) are vengeful ghosts who come back from purgatory for a wrong done to them during their earthly life. They are often women and they do not necessarily seek revenge for the person who caused them harm at first (eg, a lover), but generally, anyone crossing their path, suffered their wrath. The Goryō (御霊) are vengeful ghosts of the aristocratic class, especially those who were martyred. The Samurai Ghosts are veterans of the Genpei War who fell in battle. And finally, the Seductress Ghosts who are the Yūrei of a woman or a man who embark on a post-death love story with a person still alive.
Some notable examples to quote are: Ring (directed in 1998 by Hideo Nakata), Ju-on: The Curse (directed in 2000 by Takashi Shimizu) and Ju-Rei: The Uncanny (directed in 2004 by Kôji Shiraishi).

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