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Hahakigami, the Broom Spirit

Ewa Nowogorski

Haha, I’m laughing at you. No. You might think that hahakigami has something to do with laughter because of how the name begins, but there is no relationship. The hahakigami is actually a broom spirit, or rather a yokai that resides inside a broom.

Long ago in Japan, brooms were not used for sweeping floors. I mean, if you’ve ever seen a traditional broom made of a bunch of thin branches, then you probably would wonder how those brooms sweep anything to begin with. But brooms were used in rituals for purification, to sweep away illness and evil.

A broom that reached an old age was believed to become a perfect candidate for a yokai’s home. If a broom is old enough, there is a chance a spirit might move in, and when it does, it is considered a positive, good luck charm. Historically and in folklore, brooms believed to home spirits were used as magical charms for safe and quick childbirth. Because they sweep away evil, it is hoped that they will “sweep” the baby out of the mother’s womb quickly and safely.

They are also used to keep guests at your home from overstaying their welcome, effectively “sweeping them out” when their time to go comes.

These are not tools used by witches to fly around, such as magic-filled brooms in America are used. In a lot of media and artwork, hahakigmi are painted as rather cute spirits, much cuter than other Japanese yokai that we know of.

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