Down on the banks of mountain streams all across Japan, you can hear the sound of this elusive yōkai
- shoki shoki
, like someone washing red azuki
beans. Sometimes it can be heard singing:
Azuki togō ka, hito totte kuo ka, shoki shoki
"Shall I wash my azuki beans, or should I snatch a person to eat? shoki shoki?"
Although singing such morbid things amuses it, the azuki-arai is in fact a very shy creature which perpetrates little mischief upon humans other than surprising them with its odd noises, and when a curious person approaches the culprit can be heard diving into the water to escape. Thus though it is often heard, the azuki-arai is very seldom seen, but it is sometimes thought to look like a child, a little
old man, or a very small old woman.1
1. Mizuki 2001, pp. 18-19.