むかしむかし, there lived a young man named Saburo, who was born into a rich family of business owners. He fell in love with a girl named Otsuyu. Their love was a happy, pure and blossoming kind of love, like a beautiful peony flower. Their relationship became deeper as time went by, and soon they planned to be married.
One day, Saburo got severely ill, so severe that he couldn’t see Otsuyu for a long period of time. He tried to get well as soon as possible, because he missed her so much. When he got strong enough to leave the house, he went to search for Otsuyu, desperate to see her again.
He looked for her everywhere, but what he found was a very terrible news. He was told that Otsuyu had died some time during his absence.
A very heartbroken Saburo grieved her loss everyday. That year, on the Obon festival, he prayed for her soul to visit him.
As he went home on the night of the festival, he came across a beautiful lady and her maid. They were carrying a peony lantern. As the light of the peony lantern came upon the lady’s face, Saburo saw that she looked exactly like Otsuyu!
He ran up to her, not believing his eyes. But before he could even speak, tears welled up on the lady’s eyes, and she said, “They told me you died of your illness, my dear Saburo. I was so heartbroken that I asked my maid to come with me to get away from the town.. But here you are, alive and well! I am so happy!”
Saburo was overwhelmed with joy. He hugged and kissed Otsuyu and he invited the two women to his house. That night, he held Otsuyu in his arms and they slept together (Otsuyu’s maid slept in the next room). They met every night since then.
One of the servants in his house became curious of his master’s visitors every night. One night, he decided to sneak a peek on Saburo’s room, and almost died of shock with what he saw.
Lying beside Saburo was a skeleton, moving and turning in its sleep, as if it’s really sleeping. He checked on the next room and found another sleeping skeleton, with two peony lanterns beside it. The servant ran to the temple and told the priest what he saw in Saburo’s house.
It turned out that Otsuyu and her maid died on their journey out of the town. Saburo’s aunt was behind all of it, because Otsuyu’s family was a business rival, and she was against the marriage so she decided to get rid of Otsuyu by tricking her into exile, using her grief on Saburo’s framed “death”.
The next day, the priest came to Saburo’s house and placed ofuda (talismans) around the house to keep out the ghosts of Otsuyu and her maid. Saburo was also prevented from going out of the house until the ghosts decide to give up on him.
Otsuyu and her maid waited outside of his house every night, and Otsuyu cried out his name every time, desperately calling out to him. Saburo suffered terribly because he realized he was going to be separated from Otsuyu again. “Please, I need to see her, please,” he begged his family and servants. He couldn’t lose her again. He refused to eat or sleep. His health deteriorated.
His family and his servants became very concerned about this, they were afraid that Saburo would die of heartbreak. They finally asked the priest to remove the talismans around the house. That night, the ghostly voice calling out Saburo’s name stopped. It was a very quiet night.
The next day, Saburo was found lying dead on his bed, his body entwined in a hug with a skeleton. In his face was a content smile, a smile that reflects perfect bliss. (•ˇ‿ˇ•)
Sweet, sad, and… well, creepy. ^^ But we hope you like it!
Hone-onna are creatures in Japanese folklore that are actually made up of bones, but disguises themselves as beautiful women. They attract men to make love to them, but only draining out their victim’s health and life force until he becomes a skeleton himself.