Last weekend was a very busy and very fun weekend for me. As I mentioned earlier on my blog, May 25 was the Mononoke Ichi yokai market down in Kyoto, and on May 26 I gave a talk on yokai in Echizen City. Both events were awesome. I thought I’d post a little summary and some photos here to share with my readers.
This is an event which is held multiple times a year by a group down in Kyoto. Their biggest event is their annual hyakki yagyo night parade in October. They do a number of other events, and Mononoke Ichi is one of them. It’s basically a yokai-themed crafts convention. Vendors include artists and craftspeople from around the region, as well as students from Kyoto’s local art universities. They also do local yokai tours, and being in Kyoto there is no shortage of yokai spots. In fact, the event is held right next to the temple where the severed hand of Ibaraki doji is kept as a relic. The organization and its events serve two main purposes: to preserve and spread awareness of yokai, and also as a sort of community stimulus/revival.
It was wonderful to meet so many other creators who are passionate about yokai. I was also really surprised at how many of them knew who I was before I even met them. I mentioned in a previous blog post how the Miyoshi Mononoke Festival was the first time anyone in Japan had ever recognized me for my work, but it turns out a lot of others recognized me and just were too shy to say anything. A number of people came to my table last weekend and told me they saw me at the Miyoshi museum opening and wanted to say something but didn’t. And many of the vendors and guests were already fans of yokai.com and my twitter feed, and said they were very excited to meet me in person. It was very humbling, because I was also so excited to meet everyone there.
Anyway, here are some photos of the event:
The next day I gave a talk on yokai in Echizen City, which is the town where I lived for 5 years when I first moved to Japan. The presentation was organized by the Echizen International Association as part of their annual stakeholders meeting.The things I spoke about were both personal (about my own history and experiences with yokai and my appreciation for yokai art) and general (about the appeal of yokai outside of Japan and among non-Japanese). I also spoke about recent events in the Japanese yokai community, including the Miyoshi Mononoke Musuem and Mononoke Ichi, and how yokai are being used by local communities to revitalize aging communities suffering from population drain. Like pretty much every place in Japan, Echizen has its own collection of local yokai stories, and those could be tapped for yokai-themed festivals and events to help bring attention and visitors to the city.
Although I’m used to talking about yokai in Japanese with people, it was my first time to ever give an hor long presentation in Japanese on the subject, so I was pretty nervous. But it went well, and the attendants were all very interested. People asked lots of questions, which I usually take as a good sign that the presentation was interesting. And there was a lot of interest in the idea of putting on some kind of local yokai festival to promote investment in the city; an idea which I enthusiastically support.
Here are some photos of that:
So all in all, it was an awesome weekend. And a very exhausting one as well! I am looking forward to doing events like that again, but maybe (hopefully) not on the same weekend!