Japanese article is here; https://japaneselanguagesalonbymikapanda.com/what-does-it-mean-oni-by-damon-slayer-188
Highly favoured “Demon Slayer”!!
Hello, this is MIKA!
Do you know the Japanese comic “Demon Slayer”?
It may be no longer a silly question because it’s too popular.
I’m a fan of that too, I especially like Giyu Tomioka and Shinobu Kocho very much!!
In Japanese title “鬼滅（きめつ）の刃（やいば）” means “The knife to slay demons”.
By the way, what is “鬼（おに）” at all?
When we hear “鬼”, most of us remember the creature which has a red skin, sharp horns and tusks, finally a metal rod like the picture upside here.
In “Demon Slayer”, the human who has been covered with the blood of “Kibusuzi-muzan”, the king of demons became a demon.
But originally, “鬼” is sometimes a watcher of the hell, a monstrous being, or one of the “Holy spirits” in Japan!
“鬼” in Japanese life
“鬼” often appears to Japanese old tales for children, that’s why there is no Japanese who doesn’t know that. The illustration upside here is the image of “Momotarou”, one of nursery tales about the boy who has born by a peach and slay “鬼”.
A chasing, which children like is called “鬼（おに）ごっこ” in Japanese.
“鬼” chases escaping persons to touch one of them. The person who has been touched by “鬼” will become the next “鬼”.
On “Setsubun”, which is held in 3rd February in every years, people say “Go away demons!” as scattering beans which “鬼” hates to let them away. In that case, “鬼” means the symbol of disaster.
And “鬼” is used some of Japanese proverbs like “鬼に金棒（かなぼう）”, “鬼（おに）の居（い）ぬ間（ま）に洗濯（せんたく）”.
*鬼に金棒; The more Moors, the better victory.
*鬼の居ぬ間に洗濯; When the cat‘s away, the mice will play.
“鬼” has the image of a strength and fear, we say “鬼嫁（おによめ）” for a powerful and scary wife who is like a “鬼” as one of the expression!
This time, I’ll tell you about “鬼”, the mysterious being which has taken root in Japanese people’s mind.
“鬼” as a watcher of the hell
To be honest, there is the concept of the “hell” in Buddhism like Christianity.
The people who commit a crime before dying go to the hell and receive punishment by “鬼”.
“Gaki” in the hell
In Buddhism, the people who is accused of the voracity go to hell and will be born as “Gaki”, kind of “鬼”.
“Gaki” is always hungry forever, because the food will burn with a flame after “Gaki” take it.
In addition, because many children have a vast appetite, adults call cheeky kids “Gaki”.
“鬼” as the evil spirit with a deep-seated grudge
“Hannya”, one of the face masks of Noh, is a figure of “鬼”as the evil spirit that women become with a deep-seated grudge or a jealousy.
From the first, all of the people have “鬼” and let it become the evil spirit.
In that case, “鬼” is the symbol of negative feelings.
“鬼” as a monstrous being
There is also “鬼” in the many monstrous beings.
Monstrous beings are imaginary creatures which cause some supernatural phenomenons which was impossible to explain in the era that was not developed scientifically or disasters for humans.
For example, “Kubire-oni” has told as one of the “鬼” in monstrous beings which tries to let someone do suicide by hanging.
“鬼” as one of the “Holy spirits” in Shinto
For example, there is the “鬼”shrine which deifies “鬼” in the legend in Hirosaki city, Aomori prefecture.
“鬼” which gave water for farmers has been enshrined as “Kishin”, “鬼” as one of the “Holy spirits” in Shinto.
And in Akita prefecture, there is the traditional event in new years eve that local men are dressed as “Namahage”, the “鬼” which is the messenger of “Holy spirits” and go to houses to do an exorcism for bad lucks in that year and pray happiness for the new year.
How was it?
At first, “鬼” means “dead person” as a kanji, that’s why Chinese people can understand it with that meaning only.
However, in Japan, it has so many meanings and figures!!
Because it’s a very familiar being, also very ideal theme for comic.
That’s all about “鬼” by “鬼滅の刃”!