A lot of people have asked me where I do my research on yokai for this project. I actually haven’t made any of these up — they existed for hundreds of years before I was even born. Most of my research is done on the internet, because the old yokai anthologies are all public domain now. However, there are also good references that can be found in libraries or on Amazon.com as well. The English Wikipedia has a lot of information on yokai — particularly in the form of scans of old yokai art books from hundreds of years ago located in the Wikimedia Commons. The Japanese Wikipedia has even more information, if you can navigate the Japanese. For those of you who want to learn more, here are a few good yokai chroniclers to reference:
- Shigeru Mizuki, author of the yokai manga GeGeGe no Kitaro
- Toriyama Sekien, ukiyo-e painter and author of The Illustrated Night Parade of A Hundred Demons (画図百鬼夜行, 1776), The Illustrated One Hundred Demons from the Present and the Past (今昔画図続百鬼, 1779), Supplement to The Hundred Demons from the Present and the Past (今昔百鬼拾遺, 1780), and The Illustrated Bag of One Hundred Random Demons (画図百鬼徒然袋, 1784)
- Tosa Mitsunobu, the 15th cenury painter of the original Hyakki Yakko Zu scroll
- Utagawa Yoshiiku, a 19th century painter
- Kawanabe Kyosai, one of my favorite yokai painters
- Sawaki Suushi, another one of my favorites, author of The Illustrated Volume of a Hundred Demons (百怪図巻, 1737)
Today’s yokai is a truly bizarre one, but even so it is a little bit cute… Its name is a pun with two different meanings — the first one being “fluffy-looking hairy thing” and the second being “unusual and rarely seen thing” — depending on the kanji used to write it. It kind of looks like a small dog covered in hair.
It lives in damp, dark places, and is actually a disease spirit. Despite its cuteness, if you find one of these in your house you are probably going to get very sick. Beyond that, there is very little documentation on this yokai. The earliest appearance of him is in Toriyama Sekien’s supplemental yokai anthologies, so I suspect it may be one that he invented just to fill in some pages. Not that that really cheapens it at all, of course.
If any yokai were to do well as a pet for humans, this would be it. In my opinion, it is just a like a small dog; tiny, hairy, and disease ridden. But then, I’m biased towards parrots myself.
Tomorrow I will update my Etsy store with additional yokai prints from the second week of October!