A-Yokai-A-Day: Nanjaka

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Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I could never forgive myself if I let the last two—and most mysterious—yokai from the Bakemono tsukushi emaki go untouched. So while yesterday you got to see biyorori, today you’ll get to see perhaps the most mysterious yokai in all of yokai-dom. Read on!



Like biyorori, nanjaka appears in this scroll and only this scroll. Like the other yokai in it, there is no story or explanation to go with it, so we can’t know for sure what it means. Worst of all, this one is not even a full picture! The upper half of the yokai has been completely left out of the scroll. Further, we don’t even get the rest of his legs. The picture cuts off at the knees. It’s basically just a yokai crotch shot!

Nanjaka has got a hairy belly with a bit of a paunch. It wears a loincloth. Its hands are curled up and look sort of bestial. It’s got a fluffy tail. Based on the tail, it’s probably safe to say that nanjaka is a shapeshifted tanuki or a kitsune, maybe even a mujina or an itachi. But we can’t know for sure.

Nanjaka is a bit famous among Japanese yokai fans only for being perhaps the most mysterious yokai of all. There’s really nothing you can say or even guess about it. Even the original meaning of its name—probably a wordplay—is not recorded. But the best part about it is that “nanjaka” is Japanese slang for “what??”

That’s the best possible name to describe this yokai. It’s like the artist himself didn’t even knew what he created, and in a drunk fit he wrote “what the hell is this?” next to the creature he just painted. The name alone makes this yokai worth talking about.

Want more yokai? Visit yokai.com and check out my yokai encyclopedias on amazon.com! Still want more? You can sign up for my Patreon project to support my yokai work, get original yokai postcards and prints, and even make requests for which yokai I paint next!

「A-Yokai-A-Day: Nanjaka」への1件のフィードバック

  1. A “canine” tail. Looks “wolfish” to me. HAH! Koga from “InuYasha!” (A wolf yokai character.)