A-Yokai-A-Day: Keukegen

A lot of people have asked me where I do my research on yokai for this project. I actually haven’t made any of these up — they existed for hundreds of years before I was even born. Most of my research is done on the internet, because the old yokai anthologies are all public domain now. However, there are also good references that can be found in libraries or on Amazon.com as well. The English Wikipedia has a lot of information on yokai — particularly in the form of scans of old yokai art books from hundreds of years ago located in the Wikimedia Commons. The Japanese Wikipedia has even more information, if you can navigate the Japanese. For those of you who want to learn more, here are a few good yokai chroniclers to reference:

Keukegen

Today’s yokai is a truly bizarre one, but even so it is a little bit cute… Its name is a pun with two different meanings — the first one being “fluffy-looking hairy thing” and the second being “unusual and rarely seen thing” — depending on the kanji used to write it. It kind of looks like a small dog covered in hair.

It lives in damp, dark places, and is actually a disease spirit. Despite its cuteness, if you find one of these in your house you are probably going to get very sick. Beyond that, there is very little documentation on this yokai. The earliest appearance of him is in Toriyama Sekien’s supplemental yokai anthologies, so I suspect it may be one that he invented just to fill in some pages. Not that that really cheapens it at all, of course.

If any yokai were to do well as a pet for humans, this would be it. In my opinion, it is just a like a small dog; tiny, hairy, and disease ridden. But then, I’m biased towards parrots myself.

Keukegen
Keukegen

Tomorrow I will update my Etsy store with additional yokai prints from the second week of October!

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