Yokai files: Find out about the kids’ yokai (J. monster & supernatural beings) craze in Japan

Welcome to Japan’s Monster Inc.! Follow our links to find out the best sources and resources on Yokai, literally “bewitching apparition” (including Japanese fairies, monsters, gobblins, ghouls and demons, supernatural beings and phenomena, spirits and ghosts … note some tend to exclude the last category in the definition)

In the news:

Yokai craze haunts kids in Japan (Oct 2005 Kids web)

Yokai, monsters under the rising sun addresses the origins of yokai

Websites about yokai:

Monstropedia.com‘s page on yokai / Wikipedia’s Yokai page

Toby Simpson’s database on types of yokai (which also includes Japanese spirits and ghosts)

Youkai and Kaidan (PDF file)

The Obakemono Project (also mentioned in Ursi’s Eso Garden blog scroll halfway down)

Yokai: Monsters, Giant Catfish & Symbolic Representation in Popular Culture

Kaii-Yokai Densho database

LaPatafisica Japonica blog explores the yokai world

Yokai Gallery 1, Gallery 2, Gallery 3 by the Unfamiliar Glimpses of Japan blogsite

Oedo Yokai

Obakemono.com website sources

Obake wikispaces

Yōkai at AllExperts

Japanese Ghosts (Mangajin.com)

Japanese Ghosts (SPI.com)

Youkai and Kaidan by Robert Jay Gould (Japan Culture Research Project 2003)

Yurei and the Afterlife

Books about Yokai:

Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide

Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai by Michael Dylan Foster (Description: Water sprites, mountain goblins, shape-shifting animals, and the monsters known as yokai have long haunted the Japanese cultural landscape. This history of the strange and mysterious in Japan seeks out these creatures in folklore, encyclopedias, literature, art, science, games, manga, magazines, and movies, exploring their meanings in the Japanese cultural imagination and offering an abundance of valuable and, until now, understudied material. Michael Dylan Foster tracks yokai over three centuries, from their appearance in seventeenth-century natural histories to their starring role in twentieth-century popular media. Focusing on the intertwining of belief and commodification, fear and pleasure, horror and humor, he illuminates different conceptions of the “natural” and the “ordinary” and sheds light on broader social and historical paradigms — and ultimately on the construction of Japan as a nation.)

Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (Lafcadio Hearn’s Gutenberg 1904 version translated into Japanese by) Teiichi Hirai

Tales of Ghostly Japan reviewed here by Ad Blankestijn’s Japan Navigator website

Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai Yokai are the monsters, demons, and spirits of Japanese folklore, such as the shape-changing kitsune, the obakeneko demon cats, and the evil oni ogres. Usagi faces all these and more when a desperate woman begs for his help in finding her kidnapped daughter. Tracing the abducted girl deep into the forest, Usagi finds it haunted by creatures of Japanese legend and discovers that they are amassing for a great raid on the countryside! Fortunately, Usagi is joined by Sasuke the Demon Queller, who is also fighting to prevent the invasion, but things aren’t always as they seem, especially when dealing with the supernatural!

Yokai Jiten (take a peek some of the illustrations here)

Supernatural and Mysterious Japan: Spirits, Hauntings, and Paranormal Phenomena  by  Catrien Ross, Tokyo: Yenbooks, 1996

The Shapeshifter Fox: The imagery of transformation and the transformation of imagery in Japanese religion and folklore by Michael Bathgate, Chicago: Dissertation University of Chicago, 2001

Morphologies of Mystery: Yōkai and Discourses of the Supernatural in Japan 1666-1999 by Michael Dylan Foster, Palo Alto: Dissertation Stanford University: 2003

Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan by Lafcadio Hearn, Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle Company 1976

In Ghostly Japan by Lafcadio Hearn Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle Company 1971

Ghosts and the Japanese,  by Iwasaka Michiko & Barre Toelken, Logan: Utah State University Press 1994

Kitsuné: Japan’s Fox of Mystery, Romance, and Humor by Nozaki Kiyoshi Tokyo: The Hokuseidō Press. 1961

Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Priovate Meanings in Contemporary Japanese Inari Worship Karen A. Smyers, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press 1999

Manmade Objects as Demons in Japanese Scrolls

The Metamorphosis of the Kappa: Transformation of folklore to folklorism in Japan (The “kappa” is a mischievous water goblin of Japanese folklore. This article presents an overview of some of the characteristics of the “kappa”, including the dish-like cavity on its head, its penchant for eating cucumbers, its aversion to gourds and to iron, and its habit of trying to pull horses, cattle, and humans into the water. Some of the major critical literature regarding the “kappa” is discussed, including work by Yanagita Kunio, Orikuchi Shinobu, Ishida Eiichirō, and structural anthropologist Cornelis Ouwehand. The concept of folklorism (“folklorismus”) is briefly defined and applied to the “kappa” belief. Through folklorism, artists, writers, cartoonists, and commercial interests have transformed the “kappa” from a malicious and unpleasant water deity into a harmless and lovable mascot.)

Heroes & Ghosts: Japanese Prints by Kuniyoshi 1797-1861 by Robert Schaap, Leiden: Hotei Publishing 1998

Anatomy of Japanese folklore takes a look at the book Yokai Daizukai which has illustrations of the anatomy of J yokai monsters

Scifi interviews Yokai Attack! authors


Chinese Gods: The Unseen World of Spirits and Demons, by Keith Stevens. London: Collins & Brown, 1997

Movies about Yokai:

Yokai 100 monsters movie

Great Yokai War movie reviews at Rotten Tomatoes at IMBD and at Wikipedia

GeGeGe no Kintaro

Yokai University lecture

Yokai Game:

Yokai Island wikigame

Yokai Mountain wikigame

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