Video of a Shrine Ritual

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I wanted to share this because usually every year during Golden Week I share a video with my Patreon backers of the “shrine battle” at one of the major local shrines. This year because of the pandemic, the festival was cancelled, but the shrine ceremony went on as it always does and has for over 1000 years. This year, the priests posted a video of the ceremony, which is really really cool.

This is Otaki jinja, a shrine to the goddess Kawakami Gozen. It’s a big shrine located in the far corner of a rural town in a rural prefecture. It’s essentially the last building before you enter the mountains. Legend has it hundreds and hundreds of years ago, she came down from this mountain and taught the locals how to make paper. Since then, Echizen has been an important center of traditional Japanese paper (washi). Incidentally, it has special meaning to me because it is the shrine where my wife and I got married.

In this above video, you can watch as the priests leave early in the morning from the shrine at the base of the mountain. They wear a little backpack like structure, which is a house for a god. Normally instead of a mini backpack, there is a massive and majestic golden palanquin carried by many people. But for social distancing, this year it’s just a priest with a backpack.

They travel to the top of the mountain, and take the goddess and her family out of the shrines where they live during the year. They then take her down, and re-enshrine here in the village for the day.

She visits each of the local shrines at that time, and the local villagers all pay their respects. (This is where the shrine battles take place, because each village doesn’t want the goddess to leave. They want her to stay with them for the year.) Obviously that is not part of this video, but it’s my favorite festival during other years.

Finally, at the end of the day, there is another long ceremony, and she is placed back into the palanquin (or backpack) and carried back up the mountain to her home at the top. Normally, this is done in the pitch black (lit only by hand held paper lanterns), up a dangerous mountain trail, by drunk villagers carrying a heavy golden palanquin. Even when I was not drunk or carrying a shrine, I was afraid of falling and breaking my neck, so I can’t imagine how they do this every year.

Anyway, it’s really cool to get a unique perspective of this ritual, even though it’s unfortunate that the festivals had to be canceled.

A-Yokai-A-Day: Ino Mononoke Roku, Day 21

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This year for #ayokaiaday we are looking at the bizarre occurrences which took place at the Ino residence in Miyoshi, Hiroshima, during July of 1749. These occurrences all revolve around a young boy named Ino Heitaro. His story is collected in Ino mononoke roku, a collection of scrolls, books, and legends which collectively form the narrative of a supernatural phenomenon that took place 270 years ago.

It was now three full weeks since Ino Heitaro’s haunting began. Pretty much anybody would need a break by now. Even with all of his bravery, surely Heitaro must be starting to crack?

Heitaro decided to read a book to clear his mind. Unfortunately, there was no way he was going to read uninterrupted…

The shadow of a person appeared on the wall in the light from his lantern. The shadow was so clearly cast that Heitaro could make out every detail. It looked like a human reading a book out loud.

Heitaro watched the shadow’s mouth and tried to read its lips, but he couldn’t make out what it was saying…

December-January Japan Trip

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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. 続きを読む December-January Japan Trip

百鬼夜行@スペースオイチ

日本では、夏といえば何か怖いホラーの季節のイメージがあります。(アメリカではハロウィーンの時期ということで遅めの秋がホラーシーズンですからちょっと違いますね)夏にには毎年新作のホラー映画がでてきて、怪談話もあちこちで聞かれるようになります。死者が蘇る時期でもありますね。夏の暑さ対策にはもってこいです!

と、言うことで・・・夏です!妖怪の季節がやってきました!涼しくなりたい皆さんに朗報です。私の本「The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons」の妖怪たちの展示がスペースおいちさんで開催されます。

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

展示は7月27日から8月16日まで、時間はAM11時~PM7時30分までです。フェニックス祭りをはさんで展示が行われますので、お祭りに来られた際には是非立ち寄って見てください!

場所は福井市中央1-17-1アップルビル2Fです。妖怪たちがあなたを待っていますよ!

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (百鬼夜行)発売中!

私の本、The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (百鬼夜行)が遂に発売されました!

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (cover)

本は Amazon.co.jpから直接オーダーすることができるようになりました!

妖怪は、古来から日本で言い伝えられてきたとても不可思議な生き物であり、その種類は大変幅広いものであります。例えば口が頭の後ろについている女性や、人間の肛門が好物のwater goblins:水のゴブリン(河童を表現しています),悪い夢のみを食べる、象―ドラゴン(獏を表現しています)。また、死んだ体のゾンビや話ができるキツネ、火の息を吐く鶏に、道を行ったり来たりする生きている腐った肉塊などもいるのです。

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (百鬼夜行)」には大変多くの妖怪が載っています!100種類もの日本の妖怪を、一つずつ丁寧に描きました。全てフルカラーで、全ての妖怪についての詳細な英語の説明もついています(古い文献や民話を翻訳しています)。

この本を読んだ後にゴジラや日本のアニメなどを見ると、それらのキャラクターのベースに妖怪がいるということに気が付けるかも。。。もしくは、神社、お寺、ビール缶や日本のお札などでみかけるちょっと不思議な動物達についても何なのか分かることができますよ。この本を読むと、日本の妖怪のエキスパートになれますよ!

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (百鬼夜行)」は、100以上のフルカラーイラストが掲載された224ページの本です。本の中であなたは以下の妖怪を見つけることができますよ!

河童・ガラッパ・兵主部・麒麟・鳳凰・龍・獏・狛犬・野槌・鬼火・人魂・木霊・山彦・キジムナー・濡女子・絡新婦・土蜘蛛・青鷺火・鼬・鎌鼬・波山・山童・小豆洗い・小豆はかり・小豆婆・輪入道・片車輪・鬼・鬼女・霊鬼・樹木子・釣瓶落とし・がしゃどくろ・山姥・小天狗・大天狗・大入道・一つ目入道・見越入道・高入道・油すまし・雪女・猩々・牛鬼・濡女・磯女・船幽霊・人魚・磯撫で・衣蛸・海坊主・化鯨・滑瓢・お歯黒べったり・轆轤首・抜け首・二口女・針女子・口裂け女・骨女・倩兮女・高女・雨女・べとべとさん・泥田坊・赤舌・おとろし・わいら・うわん・百目・ぬっぺっぽう・一つ目小僧・姑獲鳥・幽霊・怨霊・獺・野箆坊・貉・狸・狐・狐火・化け猫・猫又・精螻蛄・青女房・影女・塗佛・座敷童子・チョウピラコ・臼搗童子・垢嘗・毛羽毛現・髪切り・瀬戸大将・白溶裔・化け草履・唐傘小僧・目目連・提灯お化け・経凛々・硯の魂・三味長老・琴古主・琵琶牧々・一反木綿・小袖の手・蛇帯・青行燈・百鬼夜行

これら全てそれぞれの妖怪について、100年以上前の文献や伝承をもとに説明してあります。そしてそれぞれの妖怪たちのイラストもまた、鳥山石燕の画図百鬼夜行などの古いイラストや、その他の浮世絵師による版画などを参考して描いています。

これほどまでに多くの妖怪について知ることのできる本は他では見つけることができません!こちらに、最初の数ページを本から紹介します。この本を通じて、妖怪の世界を是非体感してみてください!

Night Parade - Map of Japan

Night Parade - Kappa

Night Parade - Hou-ou

Night Parade - Out at Sea