A-Yokai-A-Day: Bekataro

Today’s yokai is one we can all relate to. At least I think so. This is pretty much the way I look/feel after binge-eating Halloween candy, or any other fall treats (seasonal beer, donuts, and beef jerky are my eternal vices). And best of all, he’s easy to draw! So give it a try, and don’t forget to hashtag your illustrations #ayokaiaday and #ayokaiaday2018!

Bekataro

Bekataro
also known as: bekuwataro, bekabo, beroritaro, peroritaro, akanbei, bekanko (and other variations)

Bekataro is a unique looking yokai! He looks like a naked little boy with a massive belly and squashed body proportions. (Or maybe the morbidly obese offspring of Sloth and Eddie Munster?) Of course his defining feature is his pose: he sticks his tongue out and pulls both his eyelids down with his fingers. Though you can’t hear it in the painting, he’s almost certainly making a teasing “bleaaaaaaaaaaaa” sound.

Bekataro comes from the same Matsui Bunko scroll as yesterday’s asuko koko does, though he appears in many other places as well. A similar looking yokai appears in another scroll as “akanbei” and he has been copied into other scrolls and books under slightly different name variations.

There’s no story included with the Edo Period paintings that depict bekataro. However, the great Mizuki Shigeru was kind of enough to include (invent?) one for him in his yokai encyclopedias.

Long ago, a boy was born who loved to eat. His name was Taro. He regularly consumed as much as 10, even 20 normal people would eat. He ate so much that his parents could no longer afford to feed him, and so one day they kicked him out to live on the streets.

Baby Taro wandered the streets begging strangers for food, but no matter how much they gave him, it was never enough. He just ate, and ate, and ate. Eventually, he even began to contemplate eating human flesh! Eventually, the townspeople became afraid of Taro and began to run away from him whenever he appeared on the streets.

According to Mizuki, bekataro was also included in Edo Period scrolls used as charms against evil spirits. So, despite the bizarre and perhaps slightly gruesome behavior of this yokai, it apparently has some positive powers as well.

These days, akanbei, perori, and other variations of this yokai’s name are used to describe the facial expression that he is making. If you watch a lot of anime, no doubt at some point you’ve seen a character pull down their eyelids, stick out their tongue, and say “bleaaaaaaaaaaaaa” or something of the like.

Is the gesture named for the yokai? Or is the yokai named for the gesture? I wonder…


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