Today marks the start of October, the start of my Kickstarter, and also the start of 2013’s A-Yokai-A-Day!
If you’re new to my website, A-Yokai-A-Day is my long-running project to bring a new yokai to you every day for the month of October. It started years ago when I was living in Japan and wanted to do something special to celebrate Halloween. I decided to feature a series on traditional Japanese monsters that people had probably never heard of, introducing them to my readers with descriptions based on translations of Japanese legends and original illustrations by me. Since then, it has grown in popularity, spawned a book, and now has spawned a second book, which is the subject of my current Kickstarter project.
You can view the past archives of A-Yokai-A-Day at matthewmeyer.net/blog/tags/a-yokai-a-day.
And now, without further ado, on to today’s yokai!
Amikiri (網剪, あみきり)
Amikiri is a bizarre and charming little yokai. It looks like some kind of shrimp or crustacean. It’s name literally means “net cutter,” and like many yokai it pretty much does exactly what its name means. This little guy loves to cut nets wherever he finds them — the most common targets being fishermen’s nets and kaya, a kind of net used in the old days in Japan to keep mosquitoes away. A kaya would be hung from the ceiling over the room one would sleep in at night, and act as a kind of tent to keep the bugs out. And believe me, you would need one! Summers are hot in Japan, and the mosquitoes are ferocious! So getting a visit from one of these guys would be an unpleasant experience indeed! Fortunately, though, that’s the extent of their evil doings.
Amikiri seems to be an invention of yokai master Toriyama Sekien. It first appears in his book Gazu Hyakki Yagyō, and doesn’t even come with any accompanying text. There aren’t many other old references to it, however it bears a stunning resemblance both in form and name to a yokai called kamikiri, whom we’ve looked at on this blog before. The word ami means net, but it also is the name for a type of tiny shrimp, so it has been theorized that Toriyama-sensei may have made this guy up as a sort of gag, and modeled him after the kamikiri.
Head on over to yokai.com/amikiri to read more about this strange and creepy yokai!