The Kyorinrin: Words Given Life

Arkane Curiosities

Writers, how many times have you started a new story or novel, only to jump ship for a new, shinier idea? Well, your written work might have some feelings about being abandoned. The Kyorinrin is literally words given life.

An Animated Spirit

In Japan, the tradition of the tsukumogami yokai allows tools and objects to acquire a spirit. Common examples of objects that can become tsukumogami include tools such as umbrellas, sandals, or teapots, as well as household items like lamps or futons. Once the object becomes a tsukumogami, it gains the ability to move and act on its own, often with mischievous or malevolent intent.

In Japanese folklore, tsukumogami are often depicted as small, furry creatures with big eyes and mischievous personalities. They are said to appear on the night of Setsubun, the day before the start of spring, and cause chaos and mischief in homes and businesses. However, some tsukumogami are more benevolent and may even bring good luck to those who keep them in their homes.

Forgotten Writing

The Kyōrinrin is a special type of tsukumogami formed when a scroll or book has lain forgotten for many years. After gathering a layer of dust, the writing gains a spirit. The Kyōrinrin decorate themselves with extravagant kimonos and ornate details, perhaps because they want to be noticed by their creator. They also develop bird-like qualities: beaks and long expandable wings. 

The Kyōrinrin shake off their dust and seek out their owners who have forgotten them. They only want to spread their knowledge and if it has to be by force, then so be it. 

So before your own writing grabs you by the throat and forces you to read it, perhaps you should dust off your own forgotten treasures and take a peek.

Tim Kane

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