Does Yūrei-ko Mean “Reader of Ghosts?”

Maruyama Ōkyo's "The Ghost of Oyuki"

Maruyama Ōkyo’s “The Ghost of Oyuki”

The World Horror Convention is days away and I still haven’t gotten my costume ready for the 25th anniversary costume ball. So far I have a dress with Japanese flavor and a hat—it’s been a busy year and I’ve had no time to prepare. I thought I’d go as something Japanese (or Okinawan) to celebrate that part of my family so I looked up Japanese ghosts and found something interesting.

Yūrei is a Japanese name for ghosts. It looks a lot like my middle name, Yuriko. I looked up how to pronounce yūrei versus yuriko. Then I looked up “ko.” As near as I can tell, if I pronounce my middle name as yu-ray-ko instead of yu-ree-ko, I’m saying “of ghosts” or “reader of ghosts.”

I don’t know how accurate that is, but I thought it was kind of neat to think about. Interesting side note, I’ve been told that the Okinawan side of my family earned their living as mediums. Anyone have any insight?

I’m just curious, not looking for a second career reading Tarot.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher, and author with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine with author husband Ryan Aussie Smith. For more information visit
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