It’s finally here! October, that is, and along with it, A-Yokai-A-Day!
For those of you not familiar with this project, let me briefly explain the history behind this and what I will be doing:
Back in 2009, I had been living in Japan for a couple of years and wanted to start an art project to introduce some of the really amazing stories and folklore that I had heard in my rural area which probably were not well known outside of Japan. At that time, they really weren’t many books on Japanese folklore, and information on the internet was sparse and unreliable at best. So I started a project during October to paint one new painting of a traditional Japanese monster every day as a way to bring some Japanese culture to my readers as well as celebrate Halloween in my own little way, by surrounding myself with ghosts, monsters, and horror.
After doing that for a few years, and discovering that there is actually quite a large audience for Japanese folklore, I began work on The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, my first book about Japanese monsters. It was crowdfunded by over 400 people, many of whom were fans of my yokai illustrations on my blog. That led to my second book, The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits, which was similarly crowdfunded and published this year. Throughout those projects, I remained dedicated to posting a yokai every day during the month of October, and in 2013 I created yokai.com and started up a yokai database featuring the yokai from my books and from A-Yokai-A-Day. Through my books and website, I hope to share the really awesome world of Japanese folklore and monsters with the world, providing translations of Japanese folk tales that have rarely or never been translated into English before.
Both this website and yokai.com are supported by yokai lovers through Patreon, where fans pledge $1 per month to support my continued work on bringing yokai to the world. If you like what you see this month, please consider supporting me by either buying my books, or joining my Patreon project so I can continue to create artwork and translations.
During A-Yokai-A-Day, I will post a new entry to the database on yokai.com. Here on matthewmeyer.net, I talk about the behind-the-scenes work, either interesting facts about the yokai that didn’t make it into the entry on yokai.com, or stories about the creation of the piece, or even just interesting facts about Japanese folklore. In a way, yokai.com is slightly more encyclopedic in nature, while this site is more bloggish(?).
Now that I think I’ve said enough about the project, on to today’s yokai!
I usually like to start A-Yokai-A-Day off with some cuter, tamer yokai, and build up to the scarier ones closer to Halloween. Fortunately in Japanese folklore, there is no shortage of semi-cute or charming monsters. The word in Japanese for this is kimokawaii, a portmanteau of kimochi warui and kawaii. It basically means “creepy cute” and is a great word for describing many yokai!
Tanuki tsuki is a great example of kimokawaii. The idea of a cute little animal possessing a person is both charming and disturbing at the same time. On the surface, it is quite silly, but when you hear about all of the things that happens to these possession victims, it can be quite disturbing! My goal with this painting was to capture the cuteness in the illustration, and capture the creepiness in the description. Click on the painting below to visit yokai.com and read the full entry!
You can read more about tanuki tsuki and other strange Japanese folk tales in my new book The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits. Order it now from Amazon.com.