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Strange charms of "Yokai" haunted TV animes?

Strange charms of

Translated by Miri S.

Written by 崛起智世子

2015.02.22 Bookmark

"Yokai" is a familiar existence, which has appeared in Japanese literature and arts since ancient time.

Recently, the TV anime "Yokai Watch" has been popular among children: in that anime, various "Yokai" (monsters) appear and cause mysterious troubles.

Related goods are sold out one after another. Not only children but also adults bustle about all day looking for those goods for their children. "Yokai Watch" is a big boom now.

“Mitsukuni defying the skeleton spectre invoked by princess Takiyasha“. Licensed under Public domain via ウィキメディア・コモンズ.

Mitsukuni defying the skeleton spectre invoked by princess Takiyasha“. Licensed under Public domain via ウィキメディア・コモンズ.

"Yokai" is a familiar existence, which has appeared in Japanese literature and arts since ancient time.

In "Kojiki" (Records of Ancient Matters), which is said to be the oldest book in Japan, a Yokai called "Yamata no orochi" (right-tailed serpent) had already appeared; in "Heike Monogatari" (Tale of the Heike), there is a Yokai called "Tengu" (long-nosed goblin); "Rokurokubi"(long-necked woman) and "Bake neko"(monster cat) appear in the classical comic story-telling in Japan.

Also famous Ukiyoe artists such as Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Kuniyoshi all chose "Yokai" as Ukiyoe painting theme.

Shunkosai Hokuei Obake.jpg

"Shunkosai Hokuei Obake". Licensed under Public domain
via ウィキメディア・コモンズ.

Today, various "Yokai" are created in many works: Yumemakura Baku's "Onmyoji", Kyogoku Natsuhiko's "Hyakki Yakou", Hatanaka Megumi's "Syabake" series, "Ge ge ge no Kitarou", "Natsume Yuujin chou", "Jigoku sensei Nube", "Mononoke" and "Yokai Watch" as we introduced at the beginning.

By the way, what's "Yokai"?

Although "Yokai" are familiar beings in Japan, come to think of it, they are very mysterious.

So what on earth is "Yokai"?

Hokusai kappa.jpg

Hokusai kappa“. Licensed under Public domain
via
ウィキメディア・コモンズ.

"Yokai" are a type of imaginary ghosts that appear in Japanese stories from ancient time such as "Kappa" that is said to drag a passer-by into a river, "Ittan Momen" that is said to attack people from the sky, "Amanojyaku" that troubles people by speaking gibberish.

It seems that ancient people reified supernatural incidents by creating "Yokai" and used them for literature, arts, paintings and teaching lessons.

Although science has developed, people still love "Yokai" probably because it's an attractive way to express supernatural incidents simply.

So my mom gets sulky because of "Yokai"?

For example, there is an episode like this in "Yokai Watch".

On Mother's Day, a mother eats pancakes made by a father. Then suddenly, she gets sulky saying "They are more delicious than my pancakes!".

By seeing her like that, the father and Keita, the leading character, are at a loss. Actually, however, she is possessed with "Yokai Sune Snake"!

Even though so many mysteries in our lives have been solved thank to science, we can never understand why mothers get sulky suddenly. Therefore, "Yokai Sune Snake" is the embodiment of the mystery of mothers getting sulky.

In all ages, the most mysterious thing in the world has been "human mind". That is the same in the modern time.

Have you recently wondered why you suddenly said such a harsh thing to your loved-one?

Maybe "Yokai" is smirking behind you now...

Aonyoubou.jpg

"Aonyoubou" by 尾田淑 - ISBN 4-3360-4187-3.. Licensed under Public domain
via ウィキメディア・コモンズ.

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