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Illustrations of weird creatures and fabulous beasts from a Japanese ‘Monster Scroll’
06.11.2018
12:23 pm
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Oyajirome—this monster will see you sneaking up with its big eye in the back of its head and then rip you apart with its one-talon claw.
 
At the edge of town, before the dark of the forest, live the monsters and creatures and shapeshifters who come out at dusk and roam the night preying on those who’ve lost their way. They live in the half-light, the gray area between memory and loss, known and unknown. They are called yōkai—supernatural monsters, spirits, and demons as recounted in Japanese folklore.

According to the myth, should you be so unlucky to meet one of these yokai, then you may perish or be taken captive for their twisted pleasure.

The Bakemono zukushi or “monster scroll” features 23 yokai like Dōmo-kōmo, a two-headed creature, and Rokurokubi, a woman with with elongated neck. The scroll was produced sometime in the 18th- or 19th-century by an artist or artists unknown. You can view the whole scroll here.
 
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Daichiuchi—this big muscly bird will flatten you into millet with its huge cartoon mallet.
 
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Dōmo-kōmo—two heads are better than none with this tall gray-skinned monster.
 
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Sara-hebi—snake with a woman’s head.
 
More yokai from the ‘Monster Scroll,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.11.2018
12:23 pm
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Weird monsters of Japanese folklore

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Ubagabi—the ghost of an old woman that appears as fireball.
 
There’s an ancient Japanese legend of the one hundred yōkai—monsters, ghosts, apparitions and demons—who parade through the streets on hot summer nights. If anyone is unfortunate to see these creatures—or to be caught up in it—then they will perish away or worse be taken captive for the twisted pleasure.

If you’ve ever watched the enjoyable trilogy of movies Yokai MonstersOne Hundred Monsters (1968), Spook Warfare (1968), and Along With Ghosts (1969)—then you’ll have a good idea what these demons look like—ogres, goblins, ghosts, sprites, spooky umbrellas and dangerous women with ever-extending serpentine necks.

All of these incredible monsters have long been a part of Japanese folklore. They were first codified in the supernatural bestiary—Gazu Hyakki Yagyō (The Illustrated Night Parade of a Hundred Demons) by artist and scholar Toriyama Sekien in 1776. It’s a kind of fabulously illustrated Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them but far, far more beautiful and eerie.

In 1881, artist Nabeta Gyokuei updated this incredible volume when he produced a picture book or e-hon of Sekien’s 100 demons. The Kaibutsu Ehon or Illustrated Book of Monsters features beautiful woodblock prints of each of the yōkai and its special powers.

The whole book can be viewed here.
 
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Kasha—a fiery yōkai—or phantom-in this case a cat that steals or devours corpses.
 
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Aoi no Ue—fictional female character from ‘The Tale of Genji’ who is possessed by demons.
 
More fabulous monsters, demons and ghosts, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.09.2016
12:14 pm
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Bizarre and beautiful Japanese prints depicting the giant catfish who causes earthquakes
03.17.2016
01:01 pm
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While most catfish are harmless—well, apart from the ones that sting—in Japanese mythology giant catfish were believed to be the cause of earthquakes. These giant Namazu (鯰) lived in the mud under Japan. They were guarded by the god of thunder Kashima who kept them in check with a large stone. Of course, it didn’t always work. And when the catfish escaped, it thrashed freely in the waters causing the most terrible earthquakes.

This belief became very popular after the Great Ansei earthquake on November 11th, 1855. The earthquake struck near Edo (Tokyo) with a magnitude of 7.0. The quake caused a tsunami. Seven thousand people were killed.

In the aftermath, the catfish or namazu was feared and worshipped. Prints of this giant beast—called namazu-e—became very popular with residents of the city. It was claimed some of these pictures would give the owner protection from earthquakes. Others depicted the battles between Kashima and Namazu. And there were even satirical prints depicting the builders, roofers, plasterers and carpenters who prospered from others’ misery. These colorful woodblock prints are incredibly beautiful and very surreal.
 
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Victims of the earthquake attack the giant catfish Namazu.
 
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A mob takes revenge on Namazu.
 
More beautiful prints of Namazu, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.17.2016
01:01 pm
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