A-Yokai-A-Day for the Month of October: Hyakki Yako

The final yokai of the month is actually more than one yokai. This is Hyakki Yako, the Night Parade of 100 Yokai. Every year, all of the yokai parade through the streets during summer nights. Anybody unfortunate to come across this supernatural procession will die, unless they have been specifically protected with magical charms.

Obviously 100 yokai is too many to paint in one day. I decided, for the sake of time, just to do 5 panels of yokai, with 27 more yokai. Unfortunately, I was called in to work on Saturday for 7 hours, so I lost a huge chunk of my painting time. I worked all night, painting like a demon, and I almost finished them all before midnight EST, but I need another 2 hours or so to finish the final touches. But I promised yokai on Halloween, and it wouldn’t be a-yokai-a-day if there weren’t a yokai today… so here are five:

Hyakki Yako (panel 1)
Hyakki Yako (panel 1)

I will post the remaining 4 panels just as soon as I finish the final touches, but right now I need a shower and a nap badly. I’ll update this post in a few hours with the others. They should be up before noon on November first, along with their names.

Happy Halloween!

~Update:

Well, as soon as I finished them, my internet access went down, so I wasn’t able to upload them last night. But here they are, only slightly late due to situations beyond my control… Acts of Yokai, perhaps?

The yokai in panel one are (from right to left) Tengu, a very famous, wise, and powerful bird-goblin; Kawauso, a river otter which, like many animals in Japan, develops magical powers as it ages; Uwan, a harmless incorporeal monster that lives in temples and shouts, “UWAN!” just to screw with people; Nekomata, a kind of ghost cat who develops magical powers after tail has grown long even to fork in two, giving it magical powers including creating fireballs, shapeshifting, and reanimating corpses; and Tesso, a cursed monk who tranformed into a swarm of rats and laid waste to an enemy temple.

Hyakki Yako (panel 2)
Hyakki Yako (panel 2)

Panel two contains a class of yokai known as Tsukomogami — household items which become conscious and magical after a long time, usually 100 years. Generally they are harmless, animate spirits, but there are exceptions to that rule. This procession starts with Bakezori, a sandal; Karakasa, a paper umbrella; Chochinobake, a paper lantern; Ittan-momen, a roll of cotton cloth — this one is a little more malicious than the others, often attacking humans by wrapping them up and smothering them; Biwa-yanagi, from a kind of musical instrument called a biwa; Furu-utsubo, an old archer’s quiver; and Morinji-no-okama, a tea kettle.

Hyakki Yako (panel 3)
Hyakki Yako (panel 3)

Panel 3 is full of more monstrous, animal-like yokai. The leader of this procession is Aosagibi, a glowing blue heron which flies at night, appearing as a fireball; Kirin, the famous unicorn-like-dragon-like-lion-like-horse-thing found throughout East Asia. In Japan the kirin is the most powerful of all spirits, ranking above dragons and phoenixes. It’s also famous for the brewery of the same name, which makes my favorite beer, Akiaji (my nurarihyon was drinking it too); Baku, another chimeric monster composed of bear, rhino, cow, elephant, and tiger parts, who devours dreams and preys on the spirits of the diseased and plague-ridden; and Ushi-oni, a demon bull which comes in many varieties — this one being the head of an ox attached to a hairy, six-legged, spider-like body.

Hyakki Yako (panel 4)
Hyakki Yako (panel 4)

Panel four’s yokai are getting a little creepier, but not so horrible yet. The leader of this line is Abura-sumashi, the oil-presser, who is the ghost of a man who stole oil and is now cursed with a squat, straw-covered body and a potato-like head; Hyakume, a pretty self-explanatory monster whose named means “100 eyes”; Shokera, a monster who climbs on roofs and peers in through skylights on sleeping people, occasionally attacking them; Tsurube-otoshi, a giant, disembodied head which preys on travelers by dropping out of trees and devouring them; and Akashita, a hairy beast with a long, red tongue that hides in the clouds and guards floodgates.

Hyakki Yako (panel 5)
Hyakki Yako (panel 5)

Panel five has a couple of truly frightful yokai, though nothing as bad as the onryo from October 30th. The leader of this part of the parade is Nuribotoke, a corpse with popped-out eyes dangling by the optic nerve who crawls out of family Buddhist altars (remember to close the shrine at night!); Hitodama, a basic ghost which is pretty much identical to the English Will o’ the Wisp, a sometimes-malevolent soul embodied in a ball of light which likes to mislead people into danger in the night; Aoandon, the spirit who appears after the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, the Edo-era game of ghost-story telling in which 100 candles are lit and 100 ghost stories are told, each one progressively scarier — one candle is snuffed after each story until the final candle is extinguished, and this ghost appears. Sort of a Japanese Bloody Mary or Candyman; Harionago, a barbed-haired ghoul who appears as a beautiful lady with long hair done up. She walks the streets until she comes across a man, and then she laughs. If the man laughs back, she undoes her hair and then rips him to pieces with the hooked barbs on the end of each strand; Betobeto-san, and invisible yokai who walks the streets at night, following people with the sound of its footsteps — betobeto; and Nure-onna, an giant woman-headed snake, said to grow up to 300 meters long, who waits on the shore, washing her hair. She often carries a small bundle which looks like a child in an attempt to lure strangers to come and attempt to help her. After they pick up the bundle, it becomes incredibly heavy and prevents them from running away, after which the nure-onna uses her long, snake-like tongue to suck all the blood from their body. Sometimes she also works in consort with other sea monsters.

So there you have it! A grand total of 58 yokai throughout the month of October. It was a great pleasure painting these, and I think I could go on painting them forever. One a day was an incredibly pace to keep up, and it was worth it, but there’s only so much a painter can do in one day… I’m sure I’ll come back to yokai in the near future and paint some more detailed, full scenes instead of rushing to finish in one day. But in the meantime, I want to say thanks for keeping up with my site this month, and thanks for putting up with the snags I had on the final day of the project.

Finally, I hope you’ll keep coming back to see my art. You can bookmark my site, or my RSS feed, or fan me on Facebook to keep up with what I’m doing. And if you liked the yokai, you can support my art by buying prints on my Etsy store (I’ll be adding the yokai within the next few days).

Thanks for viewing! Stay tuned for my next painting!

Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai

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