Buruburu lore: What is the real Japanese lore behind the Supernatural spirit?

SUPERNATURAL -- "Sympathy for the Devil" -- Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW -- Acquired via CW TV PR
SUPERNATURAL -- "Sympathy for the Devil" -- Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW -- Acquired via CW TV PR /

Supernatural Season 4, Episode 6 introduced us to a new type of spirit known as the Buruburu. A Japanese spirit, this is a chance to look at the Buruburu lore in the show and in real life.

In Supernatural Season 4, Episode 6, we learned that Bobby could speak Japanese. Of course, he can, right? This was actually to bring an element of Jim Beaver into the character, but also helped to bring out the Buruburu lore in the series.

A Buruburu is a Japanese spirit and found within Japanese lore and legends. Just how did the show handle the spirit and how much connects with the real lore.

Supernatural Buruburu lore

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In the series, the Buruburu was a spirit that instilled fear in its victims. In this case, the spirit was of Luther Garland, who was considered the “town freak” according to his brother. After Luther was killed, he was able to come back as a spirit and infect his murderer and those who covered up his death with a ghostly sickness.

Dean was also infected and it turned out Luther was infecting those who used fear as a weapon. The spirit’s victims were inflicted with everything he was during his final moments but in slow motion, so they fully felt the pain and torture. Eventually, the sickness caused their hearts to give out and they were killed.

Buruburus could be killed like other spirits, but Sam had to find a way to get rid of the spirit through fear. It wasn’t something he wanted to do, but it was a necessary evil to save Dean and other innocent victims.

Buruburu lore
SUPERNATURAL — “Metamorphosis” — Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW — Acquired via CW TV PR /

Lore in Japanese culture

According to TheShadowlands.Net, a Buruburu is a ghost of fear. Haunting graveyards and forests, the ghost often takes on the form of an old woman or man shaking (presumably with fear). Sometimes this spirit only has one eye.

Buruburu lore states that the spirit attaches itself to the victim’s spine, leading to a chill up and down the victim’s spine. The victim will later die of fright.

There’s little detail on why and how a Buruburu will select victims or how long it takes the victim to die of fright. These are elements adapted for the sake of the Supernatural episode in a way to tell the story and create more to this legend.

In the Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore, the Buruburu doesn’t always kill directly. Sometimes the victim is so scared that they will lock themselves in their home and eventually take their own life.

Next. Rugaru lore: The real vs. the Supernatural lore. dark

Did you know about the real Buruburu lore? Are you glad Supernatural mostly stuck to the tale told in Japanese folklore? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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