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403px-Yoshitoshi Ogiku

Yoshitoshi Tsukioka's portrait of Okiku.

Okiku the vengeful spirit was derived from a famous Japanese folklore known as 'The tale of Okiku and the nine plates' or 'Banchō Sarayashiki'.

The tale is about a beautiful servant girl named Okiku. She worked for Aoyama Tessan, a samurai household Lord who was deeply infatuated with her. Despite him having feelings for her, Okiku would refuse to become his lover. In an attempt to force Okiku to be his lover, Aoyama fooled her by making her believe that she had lost one of his family's precious plates, which was a priceless treasure. To break or lose one of those ten plates was a crime and the punishment would result in death. In a panic, she would re-count the plates one by one repeatedly. However, she was unable to find the tenth plate. Tormented by guilt and in tears, she ran to face Aoyama. Having given the opportunity the lord gave her the choice that in exchange, if she would become his lover he would overlook this offense. Still, Okiku refused. Aoyama became enraged, killing her as he threw her body down a well. 

Having been wronged by Aoyama, Okiku manifested into a vengeful spirit seeking revenge on her killer. It was said, a hostile voice would be heard from a well, counting.

"One...two...three...four...five...six...seven...eight...nine..." followed by a deathly relentless shriek in place of Ten.

In some renditions of the story, to exorcise Okiku a person must shout 'Ten' as she reaches nine, a notion that someone has found the tenth plate relieving her.