Garei (artifact spirit) (画霊)

Garei (literally, the ghost of a picture) are said to be tsukumogami (spirits that inhabit certain objects) where a portrait has been possessed by the spirit of its painter. It is said that if a picture is left untended even when it gets old and need restoration, a character in the picture will give warning.

A folk tale

There is a story about 'A woman painted on a folding screen' in the first part of an essay by FUJIWARA no Ietaka "Ochiguri monogatari" (The Story of Fallen Chestnuts) written in Bunsei era.

Once upon a time, there was a worn-out folding screen with a picture of woman on it owned by a family called the Kajuji, a family that held the office of the premiership. One day, the samurai-dokoro (the Board of Retainers) of Honami-dono asked the Kajuji to borrow the folding screen, and the Kajuji lent it willingly.

However, from that time on a strange woman frequented the surroundings of the Honami-dono residence. On one occasion, when someone witnessed the woman and followed her, she moved to the screen and disappeared. People in Honami-dono thought the folding screen was eerie, and returned it to its original owner.

After that, the woman started to appear at the residence of the Kajuji as well. Someone who became suspicious about the screen tried putting a long strip of paper on the face of the woman in the picture, later when the woman appeared she also had a long strip of paper on her face.

The Kajuji, who became more and more suspicious of the screen, asked a painter to perform an investigation of the screen. According to the painter, the painting on the screen was drawn by Mitsuoki TOSA, who was well-known during the Edo period, and it was quite valuable.

The Kajuji had the picture restored and determined to keep it with great care. After that, the woman never appeared again.

[Original Japanese]