I love this yokai.
When I first read about iyaya, I laughed so hard. All I could think of was the Seinfeld episode about the “two-face” woman who looks attractive in bright light, but when the lighting changes just a bit, she suddenly looks hideous. Of course, Jerry dumps her.
This yokai really makes me feel like I can connect to the people living in Edo-period Japan. I mean, isn’t this an experience we all have had? Someone you think is really attractive turns out to be the exact opposite? Call it two-face, or beer goggles, or iyaya; it seems to be something that transcends time and space. We usually think of people living hundreds of years ago as really different than us, but this yokai proves that they really do have the same silly sense of humor as we do, and the same experiences. It really makes a human connection across a vast distance in time.
The other part that just splits my sides is the creatures name: “iyaya!” If you’ve heard Japanese people say this word, you know exactly the tone of voice it should be said in. It’s the exact “nooo noooo!!” sound that would race through your mind as soon as you approached that two-faced person and realized what they really look like. It’s the exact corollary to Bryan Cranston’s “tsk!” in the clip above.
Maybe I am a yokai nerd, but this one just gets me on so many levels!
Iyaya / 否哉 / いやや