One night a year, gruesome spirits parade through the streets of Japan. Anyone who crosses their path without protection will perish or get spirited away. Protection consists of precise chants and intonation, so don’t screw it up! You may be better off just staying inside with Netflix and some instant ramen.
Among the rabble you’ll find monsters of all kinds. Minor demons and ghouls, tricksters, reptilian swamp creatures, long-tongued creeps, indistinguishable blob monsters, protruding eyeballs, fang and claw, and a host of animated household objects called Tsukumogami (umbrellas, lanterns, sandals, tea kettles, etc..) who have obtained a spirit by surviving 100 years.
Gourd-headed Nurarihyon leads the pack. They say he’ll sneak into your house while you’re on vacation, drink all your tea, and act like he runs the place.
Welcome to the first post of The Changing Things’ Yokai blog (yokai = a strange and mysterious creature). Every week I introduce a new monster, some element of Japanese mythology, or a weird and phantasmagoric aspect of Japanese reality. Occasionally I’ll branch out to other countries in Asia and around the world.
The concept of the 100 Demons Procession (Hyakki Yagyō), explored by visual artists and storytellers for centuries, was an early inspiration for my work with Japanese Monsters.
I recently attended a Hyakki Yagyō parade in Kyoto with some impressive costumes (or were they….?) Next week I’ll get the pictures up and tell you all about it.