A-Yokai-A-Day: Furi

Greetings yokai fans!

Today of course we have a new yokai for you, but before that, I just wanted to mention that The Book of the Hakutaku has now passed 800% of its funding goal! Two new stretch goals have been unlocked and put on the project page: a yokai hoodie and a yokai happi coat! Check them out on the Kickstarter page!

And now, your yokai:

Fūri
風狸
ふうり
“wind tanuki”

Toriyama Sekien’s furi

In Japanese art, we often see thunder gods and wind gods together in the same place. Since we looked at a thunder beast yesterday, today it only follows that we should see a wind beast. And this is one badass beast!

The fūri comes from Chinese folklore but was brought into Japanese lore during the Edo period folklore/yokai boom. It is a mammal about the size of a tanuki or river otter. It looks something like a monkey. It has red eyes, black fur with a leopard-like pattern, a short tail, and a blue-greenish mane which runs from nose to tail. It feeds on spiders and incense.

The fūri is nocturnal. It stays hidden during the day, but at night it soars through the sky like a bird, gliding amongst the trees and rocks. It’s flying ability is so great that in one leap a fūri can glide the distance between two mountains.

Hokusai’s furi

Fūri are extremely fast, but it is possible to capture one in a net. A captured fūri will play embarrassed, lowering its head and looking up with its big eyes in an attempt to convince a person to release it. They are very fragile, and will die immediately if they are struck. If you try to slice them up with a sword or knife, the blade will not cut through their skin. If you try to roast them with fire, their bodies will not burn. They even have the amazing ability to revive from death merely if wind blows into their open mouths. However, they cannot revive if their skull has been broken, or if their nose is stuffed with leaves of Japanese rush (Acorus gramineus), a wetland shrub.

It’s possible that the fūri legend originated from the colugo, an adorable flying mammal from southeast Asia. Colugos are not found in Japan, but as their story was transmitted through folklore books in China and eventually made it to Japan, where it was considered to be a species of tanuki.

Furi, as it will appear in The Book of the Hakutaku (once it’s painted of course)