Tonight’s yokai is a really special one, very close to my heart. It’s funny, I feel like every time I post a yokai I say “this one is really special” or “I really love this yokai” or something along those lines. It’s true, though! There are plenty of yokai that I’ll briefly chuckle at, or that I find only moderately amusing. But there are so many yokai that really hit the spot—they find that one little slice of life to satirize, and they do it better than anything else. In some ways, a yokai is like a walking, breathing pun. With just a name and an illustration, you can get across an entire joke, and never even need to explain the punchline.
Those are the truly special yokai.
And shiro ukari is one of them.
Shiro ukari has a visual charm to him that makes it impossible not to like him on first sight. And after you see him and want to know more, the next thing you get to hear is his name… “shiro ukari…” Shiro means white, and ukari has a sort of floating, light, aimless meaning to it. Even it’s definition is hard to pin down, which is pretty much the definition of the word itself. Lovely!
So what does shiro ukari do? Well, obviously he is a white thing… that floats around… Beyond that there is no description at all! Why would someone create this guy and give him this intriguing name, only to leave it completely unexplained?
Well that’s pretty common with yokai actually, and it’s part of the fun: deciphering what on earth the artist meant when he came up with this character.
I go a little more into the meaning of his name on the writeup, so I won’t repeat it all here on the blog. But the yokai that you have to guess have a really special charm to them, especially when you’re pretty sure you’ve figured it out. Because there is such a comic, layered, and punny nature to yokai, part of the joy of studying them is trying to solve the riddle.
Click on the shiro ukari to visit yokai.com and read more about him: