It’s almost time for A-Yokai-A-Day for 2019! A-Yokai-A-Day is a month-long celebration of Halloween with yokai as the subject. Each day of the month, I will paint and post a different yokai. If you’re not familiar with yokai, all you need to know is that they are the ghosts and monsters of Japanese folklore. You can visit yokai.com or read my books to learn more about them.
A-Yokai-A-Day was started in 2009, back before yokai was a common word outside of Japan. Back then, very few people knew what yokai were, and if you read anything about Japanese folklore, you’d usually see words like “goblin” and “specter” being used for Japanese monsters, and individual creatures would have their names translated into something horrendous (like “mountain goblin” for tengu, or “river imp” for kappa). Fortunately, as yokai spread across the internet, better minds prevailed, and most fans are comfortable with the Japanese terms for these folkloric creatures.
A-Yokai-A-Day has evolved over the years alongside other art projects like Inktober, and these days it’s not only me painting #ayokaiaday. You’re welcome to participate, by drawing your own versions of your favorite yokai from yokai.com and sharing them on social media. You can view my past A-Yokai-A-Day archives on this site, and follow along on my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages as well.
For 2019, I will be doing something a little different. Usually I choose a selection of yokai that showcases the diverse range of types, from cute, to funny, to terrifying. This year, however, I am using the Japanese story Ino mononoke roku as the theme for A-Yokai-A-Day. Ino mononoke roku is a folk tale from Miyoshi, Hiroshima about a young samurai named Ino Heitaro who is plagued by nightly visits from a different yokai. Every day for one whole month, his sleep is interrupted by some yokai bothering him.
I had a chance to see some of the original scrolls depicting this story up close at the grand opening of the Miyoshi Mononoke Museum earlier this year. Despite being such a fantastic tale, it’s not particularly famous, even in Japan. Needless to say, it’s also not very well known outside Japan either. So I thought this would be a good chance to showcase the strange creatures who Ino Heitaro meets, as well as give an outline of the story. Plus, it’s the perfect theme for A-Yokai-A-Day, because it literally is a yokai a day!
Stay tuned for this year’s A-Yokai-A-Day in just a few more days!