Many people like spooky folklore. For example, Japanese have wonderful and famous collections like 根岸鎮衛《耳袋》 (Yasumori Negishi’s Strange Stories: heard and put together)，中山市朗《怪談新耳袋》 (Nakayama Ichirou’s New Strange Stories: heard and put together), and 小泉八雲《怪談》(Lafcadio Hearn’s Kwaidan: Strange Stories).
I wanna put some Chinese ones which I think interesting here. Most of them are from ancient (before the end of Qing Dynasty) novels or notes. Here is the first set of stories: mysterious travels.
In 1977, a farmer called Yanqiu Huang (黃延秋 1956-) from a remote village in Hebei suddenly disappeared when he was sleeping and was found in Shanghai after 10 hours. He claimed that he was carried by two mysterious young men and they were flying with him overnight. A decade later a TV show called “Explain it by Science” (走近科學) made by China Central Television interviewed him about the details, and finally the experts thought he was kind of sleepwalking.
The details of his stories can be found in:
However, his experience is not unique. Two ancient books record similar spooky stories.
One is from 紀昀 (1724-1805) 《閱微草堂筆記》(Notes taken in a shabby studio). This book containing 26 volumes and records hundreds of short stories the author heard from others when he retired from the official position and lived in a small village. He also commented on the stories, so he called them as “notes”.
classical Chinese 虞惇又言，掖县林知州禹门，其受业师也，自言其祖年八十余，已昏耄不识人，亦不能步履，然犹善饭，惟枯坐一室，苦郁郁不适，子孙恒以椅舁至门外延眺，以为消遣。一日，命侍者入取物，独坐以俟，侍者出，则并椅失之矣。合家悲泣惶骇，莫知所为，裹粮四出求之，亦无踪迹。会有友人自劳山来，途遇禹门，遥呼曰：若非觅若祖乎？今在山中某寺，无恙也。急驰访之，果然。其地距掖数百里，僧不知其何以至，其祖但觉有二人舁之飞行，亦不知其为谁也。此事极怪而非怪，殆山魈狐魅，播弄老人，以为游戏耳。
modern Chinese 虞惇又说：掖县知州林禹门是他的老师。林禹门自己说，他祖父八十多岁了，年老糊涂，已经不认识人了，也不能走路，但是饭量很大。只是一个人呆呆地坐在房间里，感到闷闷不乐，很不舒服。子孙们经常用椅子把他抬出去，看看远处的风景，作为消遣。有一天，老人让侍候他的人进去拿东西，他独自坐在门外等着。仆人拿东西出来，老人和椅子全不见了。全家人伤心惊慌，不知怎么办才好；带上干粮，四处寻找，依然没有踪迹。恰巧有个朋友从崂山来，在路上遇到了林禹门，远远呼叫着说：“你是来找爷爷的吧？他在崂山的一座庙里，一切都很好。”林禹门急忙奔赴崂山，果然老人在那里。崂山与掖县相距几百里，庙里的和尚也不知老人是怎么来的。老人只觉得有两个人抬着他的椅子飞跑，但不知道是什么人。这件事非常怪异但又不怪，也许是山魈、狐仙、鬼魅之类捉弄老人，当成一种游戏而已。
紀昀 《閱微草堂筆記-槐西雜志二》1789 – 1798年
This story was told by author’s nephew by the male line 虞惇, he said his teacher’s grandpa was 80 year old, and the old man was slow in mind and cannot move. So his grandsons moved him out of the room everyday and let him sit outside to kill time. One day the old man and his chair suddenly disappeared, and his families looked for him. Days passed and a traveller said that he saw the old man in a temple hundreds miles away. The old man said there were two strange men carrying his chair and running very fast, and no one can understand what happened.
Another similar story from 元好問 (1190-1257)
This story is about 5 farmers went into mountain to chop wood. 1 man was lost, but he was picked up by a mysterious tall man. That man carried him by wind for a long loop travel and finally sent him back home after several days.
Does this set of stories also reminds you of the mysterious stories in *Missing 411?* I think almost every culture has such mysterious disappearing stories which are called 神隱 in Japanese.
Thanks for sharing Chinese spooky or mysterious tales! I’ve looked through stories I feel spooky enough to draw!
聊斋志异 or Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio is the definitive collection. A selection of them have been developed into a short podcast series Dark Studio.
This is super cool! Would you also consider posting the stories in /r/classicalchinese?
Thank you so much for putting this together! Wow!! I’m gonna love reading this!