Today and for the next couple of days we’ll be looking at some aquatic yokai from Ainu folklore! Ainu lore is an often overlooked part of the world of yokai. The Ainu have suffered a fair deal under Japanese rule, similar to how Americans treated the American Indians. Efforts were made to “civilize” the Ainu and “Japan-ify” them by erasing their language, religion and heritage. Fortunately, those trends have been reversing in recent decades, and today great effort is being made to protect and revive Ainu culture. Likewise, the yokai of Ainu folklore are becoming a bit more well-known, although they are still relatively obscure. So I’m excited to feature a few Ainu creatures this week.
Where I live we have had an insane October heat wave for a couple of days… 80 degrees outside and we’re almost in November! I can’t believe it! I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but today all I wanted to do was slip into a pool and cool off. So today’s yokai is kind of a cool drink of water. Looking at those deep blues and the underwater scenery helps me to deal a bit with the heat while painting the rest of the yokai for this month.
The amemasu is a gargantuan fish yokai from Hokkaido. And unlike the shusseuo who we discussed last night, this one doesn’t get a new name based on its size—ironically, because it gets so big it certainly deserves one!
One thing that I find quite interesting about this guy is the concept of fish causing earthquakes. In eastern Japan’s lore, giant catfish are quite commonly blamed for causing tremors. However, in northern Japan, the amemasu takes on that role. I don’t know if there is any deeper connection between those myths, but it’s a really interesting parallel.
Anyway, to read more about this amazing Ainu fish, click on the image below: