A-Yokai-A-Day: Omagatoki & Hinode

Today’s yokai aren’t actually yokai at all. However, they are strongly associated with yokai lore and yokai scroll paintings.

These illustrations and writeups appear in my book, The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits. Omagatoki, which literally means “the hour of meeting evil spirits,” is a poetic way of referring to twilight—that moment just after sunset when the sky is still light but fading fast. This is the time when yokai were believed to cross over from their world into ours. Hinode, which means sunrise, is of course the moment when the rule of evil spirits ends, and the world once again belongs to man.

In many yokai scroll paintings, the final scene of the night parade of one hundred demons is broken up by the blazing sun rising to banish the evil spirits back into their world. I went for that same effect in The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits, starting off the whole thing with Omagatoki and ending with Hinode as the final illustration.

There is some other important symbolism to consider with Hinode banishing the evil spirits. After all, the sun is the symbol of Japan itself, appearing on the flag and even in the name of the country. The sun goddess is also the most central figure in Shinto, and it is her descendants who supposedly founded the imperial dynasty which is in place in Japan today. That said, yokai work is not particularly used as political propaganda; the opposite in fact, as it was used more often than not as satire. And yokai are connected more with Buddhism than with Shinto, so there is not necessarily any connection between this sun and the goddess Amaterasu. It’s just something interesting to consider, and nothing more.

Incidentally, the city in the painting below is my own adopted hometown of Echizen in Fukui, Japan. And the mountain that the sun is peeking over is Mt. Hino.

Click on the images below to read their entries on yokai.com:


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