Buruburu (ぶるぶる)

Buruburu (ぶるぶる) is the Japanese onomatopoeia for ‘to shiver in fear.’  Buruburu is also the name of today’s yokai, who can also be seen referenced as zozogami which comes from the onomatopoeia zo (the chill of fear).

Buruburu are most often depicted in the shape of a woman but the exact shape is unknown; some say that the spirit can be split into both male and female.  However, it is widely agreed that the Buruburu is the spirit born when humans perform an act of great cowardice.  One such example would be running from battle, which was seen as the height of dishonor in feudal Japan.  This spirit clings to the shirt collar and caresses the back of a person’s neck.  The hair on the back of the neck stands on end and a shudder of fear rips down the spine of the affected person.

Gegege no Kitarō

In pop culture, Buruburu were seen in the 1968 and 1985 anime adaptations of “Gegege no Kitarō”.  In these versions, Buruburu is a frost yokai who can only be banished by placing the victim in a hot onsen.  The natural form of a buruburu can only be seen by a person wearing special glasses.

Supernatural Buruburu

In popular American television series ‘Supernatural’, the buruburu comes up in season 4 episode 6 titled ‘Yellow Fever.’ Buruburu are born from a victim’s terror after dying in a horrific manner.  The spirit is then able to infect others with something known as ‘ghost sickness’; a disease in which the infected person suffers from increasing terror until their heart gives out and they die.  The only way to be rid of the Buruburu is to salt and burn the spirit’s corpse or to scare it to rest.

What do you guys think? Buruburu is definitely not a spirit that I have any desire to encounter.  Looks like the easiest way to avoid an experience is to avoid performing any acts of extreme cowardice.  Sounds easy, right?

~ Jordan


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