Monday, September 10, 2012

Creepy Kids Songs Part 3: Satchan

Our songs up until now have been fairly innocuous ditties dragged into dark places by BBS denizens with the free time to match their sadistic imaginations. The final installment is something more raw—this true tale of sadness is a knife to the heart twisted by internet muck raking. 

That Satchan / Is really named Sachiko
But she calls herself Satchan / 'cuz she's so small
I feel silly with / Satchan

That Satchan / She really loves bananas
But she can only eat half / 'cuz she's so small
I feel sorry for / Satchan

That Satchan / Is she really going far away?
But she'll forget about me / 'cuz she's so small
I feel sad without / Satchan
Memorial to Satchan at Minami Osaka Kindergarten.
Satchan was penned in 1959 by Osaka-born Sakata Hiroo(阪田寛夫),  author of children's books known for his Japanese translations of The Adventures of Tintin. Years later in an interview with literary magazine Shunkan Bunshun, he admitted that TV personality and estranged boyhood friend Agawa Sawako (阿川佐和子) was the inspiration for the lyrics. He soon backpedaled, stating that Satchan was actually a transfer student from his preschool that had health problems.

This is where Satchan gains a life, or rather an un-life, of her own.

The lyrics reveal that Satchan was a sickly child. Everything starts fine with the first stanza. By the second, she's too feeble to handle an entire banana. And at the end of the song, she goes far away—recall from Toryanse that “to go” is a homonym for “to pass away.” I feel sorry for Satchan. I feel sad without Satchan. These genuine feelings of emptiness are the foundation of Japanese ghost stories and transmit clearly to their recipient beyond the grave.

Satchan is no longer an inhabitant of this world, if she even was to begin with. Kid's names are normally written using the round, friendly hiragana system, but the “Sa” in Satchan is inexplicably rendered with sharp, aggressive hiragana characters, suggesting the cramped scribblings or claw marks of some foreign entity imitating human script. 
From Teke-Teke, starring AKB48's Oshima Yuko. The horror!
All signs point to Satchan being an incarnation of the yokai Teke-Teke. Satchan is so small and can only eat half a banana because she herself is only half a body. As the Teke-Teke story goes, a young girl has her legs run over by a train, either from slipping off the platform or in a botched suicide attempt. She survives the dismemberment only to suffer a slow, agonizing death. The lower body is never recovered.

Hence the vengeful spirit of the Teke-Teke haunts suburbia at night in search of her lost legs, a torso scuttling on its arms at speeds of up to 150kph. Those unfortunate enough to be caught meet the same fate as her—she slices the victim in half at the waist with a wicked scythe.

Satchan's transformation from benevolent childhood playmate to relentless wraith seems to be a recent one. Her backstory shares too much in common with other urban yokai to be an organic creation—bullet train speeds of the human-faced dog Jinmenken, leg-stealing ala the Red Shoes ghost story, bladed weaponry borrowed from the purse of a split mouth Kuchisake Onna.

There's even a rumored fourth verse inviting Satchan to come out and play, a chain letter element obviously cribbed from the blockbuster hit The Ring. It goes something like this:

That Satchan/ A train took her legs
But she's coming back / 'cuz she wants yours
I'll see you tonight / Satchan
I should have mentioned this earlier. Satchan will pay a midnight visit to whoever lays eyes on these cursed lyrics—unless they can find the hidden fifth and final verse within three days to put her spirit to rest. The clock is ticking, dear reader.
From Hell Teacher Nube, a favorite of our buddy Velocitron.


  1. Touché, good lads, touché.

    I suppose death by way of Yokai is as appropriate as they come for a Japanophile. But I had hoped it would at least be one of the sexier Yokai myths, a Yuki-Onna perhaps, or something to that effect.

    Oh well, time to write that will.

    1. Don't give up hope! There are scientifically proven ways to ward off Satchan.
      Try appeasing her by placing a banana, her favorite food, under your pillow. If you're short on fresh fruit, a picture of a banana will suffice.
      If you find yourself assaulted by a Teke-Teke on the street, remember that their speed is their Achilles' heel! While they can run as fast as a car, they can't turn on a dime. If you can find a series of winding alleys/hallways, you'll have the yokai all but tripping over itself.