December-January Japan Trip

My wife’s brother happened to get married in December, which provided us the perfect excuse to go back to Japan for a short trip. With the Christmas and New Years holidays around the corner as well, it made sense to extend the vacation a bit and spend the whole month in Japan. This was awesome not only for the wedding, but because I got to spend my birthday, Christmas, and New Years (the absolute BEST Japanese holiday) in Japan, as well as having the chance to tour around and do some yokai research and collect visual reference for my next book. Continue reading

More Publicity

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons show opened up last Friday, and it’s been a great success so far. Everyone’s reactions have been very interesting — from kids insisting that they aren’t scared while gritting their teeth and refusing to look anywhere but at the floor, to adults doing pretty much the same thing. I’m really enjoying meeting fans and hearing what they have to say about the book. One family brought in their tattered copy for me to sign. Their kids love it so much they take it everywhere they go, and it looked like it could have been 20 years old instead of only a couple of months.

Here are a couple of articles about the show. The first one is from Urala, Fukui prefecture’s monthly magazine. They got my website address wrong (.com instead of .net), but oh well. The article looks nice anyway, and it’s an honor to be in Urala:

Urala article

Urala, August 2012

On the first day of the show, a reporter who really loves yokai came from the Fukui Shinbun to take some photos and write an article. He was squirming and making faces while reading each yokai description, and letting out yelps and shouts. But he stayed for an hour and came back again later in the day. He said really enjoyed the show, and he wrote a great article to go with it:

Fukui Shinbun article

Fukui Shinbun, July 28, 2012

If you haven’t come to the show yet, please do! I’ll be there every weekend and sporadically throughout the week until August 16th!

Night Parade Gallery Show at Space Oichi

日本語版はこちらです。

In Japan, summer is the season for scary things (unlike in the US, when horror revolves around late fall and Halloween). Summer is when the new scary movies come out, when ghost stories are told, and when creatures from beyond are said to return to our world. The idea is that being scared chills your body and helps you beat the summer heat, but this also has more ancient roots going back thousands of years — the same roots that lead to the superstitions of the dead returning to our world and the boundaries of the spirit world being weaker during the Obon holiday.

As such, summer is the perfect time to talk about yokai! And in the spirit of keeping everyone cool, I’m having a gallery show featuring illustrations from The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons next month in Fukui City.

The show will feature a broad range of yokai, from the funny and cute, to the weird and creepy, to the downright terrifying. If you can make it to Fukui city this summer, definitely come check it out!

Hyakki Yagyou poster

Hyakki Yagyou, 7/26-8/16 @ Space Oichi

The full dates of the show are July 27 until August 16, 11 am to 7:30 pm. The location is Space Oichi, Apple Building 2F, right behind Seibu and above Seatle’s Best Coffee and Theatre Cinque. Hope to see you there!

Night Parade in the News

Today the Night Parade of One Hundred Demons appeared in the Fukui Shinbun!

5/23 Fukui Shinbun

the article

Translation:

Echizen’s resident American, illustrator Matthew Meyer (29), has published a book of 100 Japanese yokai with English descriptions. The title, “The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons” means “Hyakki Yagyou” in Japanese. He started work in January of 2011, and completed the illustrations, book layout, translations, etc. in about 1 year and 2 months. It includes 100 yokai from famous places around Japan, each with its own illustration and explanation of its history. Our town’s beloved Mt. Hino is also featured among the illustrations. Mr. Meyer first came to Japan as a college student, and spent a month-long homestay in Kanazawa. He grew to love Japanese art. Later moved to Echizen city and married a local girl in 2009. After May, he will accompany his wife to the US for 2 years while she studies at a university in Pennsylvania. “I worked for many days and months, but completing the book was very fun,” says Mr. Meyer. “Next I want to illustrate and publish a book with 100 famous views of Philadelphia.” The yokai book can be purchased at Mr. Meyer’s website.

Have You Ever Seen a Shrine Battle?

Last week was Golden Week, an annual string of consecutive National Holidays which makes for about a week off of work. One of those days is Children’s Day, and the locals in Echizen have an interesting way of celebrating: they fight each other while carrying a golden shrine on their shoulders. It’s one of my favorite festival events of the year, so I wanted to show some of the activities to you.

Let me start with the story behind the battle. Echizen is home to the shrine dedicated Kawakamigozen, the goddess of papermaking. (Echizen has been a major papermaking center for centuries). Like most shrines, once a year, the gods and goddesses are taken out of their main shrines to visit the smaller local shrines around them, and then to spend a good portion of the year up in a mountaintop shrine, deep within their natural surroundings. The Otaki shrine, the head shrine for Kawakamigozen, does this on Children’s Day every year. Continue reading

Now Available: The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons

My book, The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, is now available to order!

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (cover)

You can order your paperback copy directly from CreateSpace, or from Amazon.com. The digital version will also be is also available on Amazon.com within a few days! Check your local brick-and-mortar bookstores too!

Yokai – monsters from Japanese folklore – are some of the zaniest and wildest things ever imagined up. From the mists of Japanese prehistory, through the medieval ages, up to today, the bestiary of Japanese folklore contains a wide range of monsters. There are women with extra mouths in the backs of their heads, water goblins whose favorite food is human anus, elephant-dragons which feed solely on bad dreams, dead baby zombies, talking foxes, fire-breathing chickens, animated blobs of rotten flesh that run about the streets at night…

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons is a massive illustrated bestiary choc full of yokai. It features over one hundred traditional Japanese monsters, each one beautifully illustrated in full color by yokai artist Matthew Meyer. Each yokai is described in detail, including origins, habitat, diet, and legend, based on translations from centuries-old Japanese texts.

Read this book, and the next time you watch an anime or a Godzilla movie, you’ll be able to recognize their folkloric ancestors dating back centuries. You’ll find out about all of the strange mythical animals you can see at temples and shrines, on beer can labels, and even on Japanese money. Meet the predecessors to Pokemon, Power Rangers, scary J-horror girls, and all of the strange creatures that pop up in Japanese video games. Night Parade will turn anyone with a passing interest in Japanese folklore into a full-blown yokai expert!

The book is 224 pages, with over one hundred full-color paintings. Inside the book you will find all of the following yokai: Abura-sumashi, Aka-name, Aka-shita, Ame-onna, Ao-andon, Ao-nyōbō, Ao-sagi-bi, Azuki-arai, Azuki-babā, Azuki-hakari, Bake-kujira, Bake-neko, Bake-zōri, Baku, Basan, Betobeto-san, Biwa-bokuboku, Chōchin-obake, Chōpirako, Dai-tengu, Doro-ta-bō, Funa-yūrei, Futa-kuchi-onna, Garappa, Gasha-dokuro, Hari-onago, Hito-dama, Hitotsu-me-kozō, Hitotsu-me-nyūdō, Hone-onna, Hō-ō, Hyakki Yagyō, Hyakume, Hyōsube, Iso-onna, Isonade, Itachi, Ittan-momen, Jatai, Jorō-gumo, Jubokko, Kage-onna, Kama-itachi, Kami-kiri, Kappa, Karakasa-kozō, Katawa-guruma, Kawauso, Kerakera-onna, Keukegen, Kijimunā, Kijo, Kirin, Kitsune, Kitsune-bi, Ko-dama, Komainu, Koromo-dako, Kosode-no-te, Kotengu, Koto-furunushi, Kuchi-sake-onna, Kyōrinrin, Mikoshi-nyūdō, Mokumoku-ren, Mujina, Neko-mata, Ningyo, Noppera-bō, Nozuchi, Nuke-kubi, Nuppeppō, Nurarihyon, Nure-onago, Nure-onna, Nuri-botoke, Ohaguro-bettari, Oni, Oni-bi, Onryō, Ō-nyūdō, Otoroshi, Reiki, Rokuro-kubi, Seto-taishō, Shami-chōrō, Shiro-uneri, Shōjō, Shōkera, Suzuri-no-tamashii, Taka-nyūdō, Taka-onna, Tanuki, Tatsu, Tsuchi-gumo, Tsurube-otoshi, Ubume, Umi-bōzu, Ushi-oni, Usu-tsuki-warashi, Uwan, Waira, Yama-uba, Yamabiko, Yamawaro, Yuki-onna, Yūrei, and Zashiki-warashi. Each yokai has a detailed description based on translations of documents hundreds of years old, and an illustration based on classical descriptions, woodblock prints, and paintings from throughout Japanese history.

You won’t find any other book on yokai with this many monsters in it; let alone this many color illustrations! Here’s a few preview pages from the book so you can get a feel for what the whole thing looks like:

Night Parade - Map of Japan

Night Parade - Kappa

Night Parade - Hou-ou

Night Parade - Out at Sea

Ecchan #12 (The Final One)

March’s Ecchan manga marks the last in the series. It was a fun series, and I will miss doing it; not only for being fun to do, but also because I think it was a great help for foreign residents who otherwise have to deal with the most draconian garbage laws on planet Earth without much of an explanation. Hopefully some day Ecchan will continue.

An interesting thing happened today as well — just before writing this update, a stork just like Ecchan flew past my window! March is when they migrate back to Japan from China, and considering there are only a few hundred or so in all of Japan, this was a great sighting for me and for my town! The storks are back in Echizen for the summer!

Ecchan #12

Ecchan #12

Panel 1:「この金属製のふたは、何ごみなの?」
What kind of trash is this metal cap?
Panel 2:「金属製なら『燃やせないごみ』」
If it’s a metal cap, it’s non-burnable trash!
Panel 3:「プラスチック製なら、ほとんどが『プラごみ※』だよ。」
If it’s made of plastic, usually it will be puragomi.
Panel 4:「プラごみは資源として再利用されるごみの一つだから、汚れていないことが条件だよ!」
Puragomi is one kind of recyclable trash, so make sure it is not dirty when you throw it out!

All of the Ecchan comics can be viewed in Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and English at the Echizen International Association’s website: http://www.e-i-a.jp/en/help/garbage/