Composer: Gregory P. Richards
Composition date: 2014
License: (c)2014 Gregory P. Richards. Use with proper credit.


From composer Gregory P. Richards…

The Makura-Gaeshi (枕返し) is a mischievous yokai, or Japanese demon, that appears in various tales of Japanese folklore. Its name means “pillow flipper,” and true to its moniker, it is known to hide in bedrooms, waiting until the occupants are asleep in bed, then steal the sleepers’ pillows from under their heads and replace them at their feet.

Matthew Meyer of says of the makura-gaeshi, “Makura-gaeshi are a kind of zashiki-warashi: a child ghost which haunts specific rooms of a house. They are found all over Japan, though details about them vary from region to region. They take the form of a small child dressed as a Niō, a monk, or a samurai, and appear in bedrooms late at night…While most stories about makura-gaeshi present them as harmless pranksters, there are a few stories that describe scarier powers. Some don’t flip the pillow, but lift up and flip people instead. Others pick up entire tatami mats that people are sleeping on and bounce them around.  Still others are said to sit on their victim’s chest while he or she sleeps, pressing down hard and squeezing the wind out of the lung. They occasionally cause kanashibari, or sleep paralysis. The most extreme stories say that anyone who sees a makura-gaeshi loses consciousness, after which the makura-gaeshi steals their soul, leaving them dead.”

Horror manga artist Shigeru Mizuki, known for his yokai-themed manga GeGeGe no Kitaro, adds an extra element on to the makura-gaeshi by giving them two brains: one for thinking up pranks, and the other solely dedicated to creating rainbows that the yokai can shoot out of its eyes.

Greg Richards’ take on the makura-gaeshi legend combines these myriad elements into a composition showcasing the many talents of this versatile yokai.



Scores, notes, and audio files to help learn this piece.

See attached zip file with full score…

Zip File: makuragaeshi


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