Ashiarai Yashiki has to be one of my favorite Japanese yokai stories.
An Ashiarai Yashiki (あしあらいやしき) is popularly thought to be either a tanuki (raccoon-dog) or kitsune (fox) that takes the form of a giant, filthy foot. This foot is usually covered in mud or blood and it crashes through the roof of your home and loudly demands that you clean it. Should you ignore the giant foot suddenly in your face, the ashiarai yashiki will destroy large parts of your home and could result in bouts of misfortune and even death.
So who doesn’t love stories about huge, dripping feet?? Apparently America does because we see instances of this very thing across our pop culture. For instance, did any of you ever watch Courage the Cowardly Dog? If so, you probably remember “RETURN THE SLAB”, the giant floating head in ‘The House of Discontent’, and making humans into hamburgers in ‘Heads of Beef’. But do you remember this one?
This was the giant foot that grew from Eustace’s foot fungus in ‘The Clutching Foot.’ Though this foot does not demand to be cleaned, it does demand several other things (including a bank heist from Courage) in its stereotypical gangster brogue. In the end, we see another allusion to Ashiarai Yashiki because the only way Courage could defeat the foot and get Eustace back was to wash it. Poor Courage was forced to lick the foot but in Japanese myth, cleaning it with water and other supplies was enough.
The next reference we see in popular culture comes from a semi-popular video game called Ashi Wash. In this game, a giant, crusty, fungus covered foot crashes into your house and demands that you clean it. You have to go about the house to find the tools necessary to appease the obnoxious foot.
Players are given three minutes to thoroughly clean it, but if you are unable to finish in time then the foot destroys your house and you die. If you finish in time, the foot sparkles and hops away in the distance. The game developers based this game entirely off of Ashiarai Yashiki, as you can see in their game description.
So, who doesn’t appreciate a good crusty foot story, am I right? This is seriously one of my favorite myths out there. It’s so bizarre and entertaining but it really gets you thinking too. In Japanese culture, the idiom “washing your feet” means to rehabilitate a criminal. So perhaps this myth was brought about to warn people of the dangers of illegal activity. Should the supernatural powers become aware of your misdeeds, a giant, nasty foot will come pay you a visit until you’ve been rehabilitated.
What do you guys think? How would you react if this ever happened to you?