Saturday, June 12, 2010

もしもし Moshi Moshi

"Moshi moshi" is a greeting used when answering a telephone or trying to get someone's attention, used both by the receiver and the caller. This greeting is uttered an average of 125 million times a day. The term itself apparently stems from Japanese myths of the shape-shifting Youkai, 妖怪 bewitching apparition, which are traditional Japanese monsters of supernatural origin; grotesque, diverse, and often as comical as they are terrifying. Youkai were popular subjects in ukiyo-e prints depicted as oni, tengu, kappa, kitsune and tanuki (the last two are real animals unto which supernatural powers were attributed). The magic behind the phrase "moshi moshi" lies in the Youkai's ability to only say "moshi" once, kinda like the repetitive power of the name Beetlejuice in the Tim Burton film. The weary fellow who answers the single "moshi" called out by a Youkai will have their soul stolen and devoured. Be diligent, add that oh-so-important second 'moshi' to prove you aren’t a soul hungry ghoulie on the other end of that line. Images are Sannomiya graffiti; Oh and it's for you . . .

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