Shachihoko

Greetings yokai fans!
Today I bring you the shachihoko, aka the shachi.

It has a pretty simple history, but it does tie back both to China and India, so it does go back quite a ways. Interestingly, its history is not very commonly known in Japan, and most people just think of it as a neat-looking sea monster, or else as a medieval representation of the killer whale (the killer whale was named for this creature, actually, not the other way around).

Anyway, enjoy!

Shachihoko

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Jinja hime

Greetings yokai fans!

Today I bring you the jinja hime!

She’s pretty straightforward, so I’ll let the post and the picture do most of the talking. What I really like about this one is that it hearkens back to the kudan, which was the very first yokai that I did in the Patreon project! I chose kudan back then because I thought it would be nice to have an auspicious yokai be the start (and also because I just loved the way kudan looks with his dopey cow face). As it turns out, jinja hime is likely the origin of the kudan! She, too, has an adorably dopey face, which I hope I captured well.

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Shrine Battle (Spot the Yokai)

The painting above is not mine, but it is one of my favorite woodblock prints. It was made in 1951 by Toshi Yoshida, one of my favorite woodblock printers. It shows the street leading up to Iwamoto jinja. Very little has changed since then. Here is that same view today: Google maps link

I loved that print long before I had ever been here, so when I first came to the Iwamoto shrine and saw the street above, I thought.. “Hmmm this looks oddly familiar, like I’ve been here before.” Later on I made the connection and realized that this was the street from this print!

Anyway, I mentioned in the previous post about the festival I visit every year this time. I took a video this time and I thought you guys might be interested in having a look.

The basic story behind what’s going on is that every village in Japan has a local shrine, and the local shrine of this neighborhood is the Otaki jinja. This is the large shrine that is the home of the goddess of papermaking, Kawakami gozen. Every year on this holiday, the god is removed from Otaki jinja and placed in a mikoshi, a portable (very heavy) golden shrine, which is carried on the shoulders of the men of the town. The mikoshi is taken from the head shrine and visits all of the smaller shrines in the village (there are lots). It takes all day, and at each shrine the men are given sake as offerings for carrying the shrine.

At around 5pm, they reach the final shrine, which is also the biggest of the local shrines (not counting the head shrine). This shrine is called Iwamoto jinja. The locals of Iwamoto are particularly zealous, so they don’t want the shrine to return back to Otaki jinja. The want Kawakami gozen to stay at their shrine for the whole year. So the men of the village gather at the shrine exit, and when the big mikoshi (carried by very drunk, very tired men) tries to leave Iwamoto jinja, there is a sort of tug of war battle that goes on. It’s pretty extreme to watch, and every year I can’t believe that nobody gets killed.

The mikoshi (portable shrine cart) arrives at the shrine:

https://goo.gl/photos/yBWMJ6Jy5AdvsnXL7

The shrine battle:

https://goo.gl/photos/DyLswYZzTP36pivr8

Bonus: can you find all of the yokai in the video? (Hint: There are three.)

Daidarabotchi

Greetings yokai fans!

Today I present to you April’s last yokai (though it will be May by the time most of you read this…) — the Daidarabotchi!

This is a giant like the onyudo or umibozu from The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, only its much bigger! You could call it a giant giant!

This one is pretty fun because of all of the local lore about it. Just about everywhere in Japan has a local name for this guy, as well as local legends about this mountain or that lake being formed thousands of years ago by a giant. I noted a few of them in the entry, but the list is just far to long to include every single one.

I actually went hiking in Yatsugatake a few years back, but at that time I didn’t realize that it had been created when a daidarabotchi lay down to rest his aching back. If only I had known!!

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Omukade

Greetings yokai fans!

I have to admit that this yokai was a little hard to do, because centipedes freak me out. Especially the centipedes over here, which give me actual nightmares. If you can picture a huge, think centipede over 8 inches long with bright orange legs and and head, you’ll have some idea. Also, they are fast, and very aggressive, so they will actually chase after humans! They can’t be killed easily. Even if you cut them up, they will still run around for 30 minutes or more. You can burn them, boil them, but they just don’t die. And if you squash them, they release pheromones that attract more of them to come. They like to hide in shoes, bedsheets, toilets, bathtubs, and clothes drawers… so basically anywhere that you are most vulnerable. They also drop down from the ceiling onto people. They are venomous, and their bites are extremely painful. If a big one bites you on the chest or head, you have to go to the hospital.

So yeah… there is at least one thing I don’t like about Japan.

On the plus side, today we get to hear about our old from Fujiwara no Hidesato, who you may remember from the Dodomeki  and Taira no Masakado  entries!

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Yasha

Greetings, yokai fans!

Today I bring you the yasha. As I mentioned in the sketch post, it was hard to pin down a depiction of yasha, since the imagery has changed quite a bit — everything from and Indian-style god, to a Chinese warrior, to an oni, and a hannya. I went with the Chinese warrior style, partially because it fits with the style I have used for the other Indian imports, and also because the most common place you see yasha is in temple sculptures, which take on this style of depiction. The yasha that look like oni and kijo seem to be, for the most part, generic ghost or demon stories that were later attributed to yasha, or just a use of the word yasha to denote an evil spirit, but not necessarily the specific yasha we’re talking about here.

It was hard to resist the urge to paint a ghost-like yasha, though. Particularly because of this movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079041/ Yasha ga Ike, known as “Demon Lake” in English (it should be “Yasha Lake,” of course). The small, remote village in that movie is actually right here in Fukui prefecture, so that movie has a special place in my heart. I’m a sucker for the local legends.

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