A-Yokai-A-Day: Mappira

Today is A-Yokai-A-Day number 17 for 2018! Time sure flies! If you haven’t been painting your own yokai, don’t forget to check out the other folks painting #ayokaiaday on Twitter and Instagram and elsewhere!


“totally flat (i.e. groveling, begging)”

Mappira is a somewhat pathetic looking yokai. It is bent over prostrate, totally flat on the ground (thus its name). It appears to be begging like a sad dog. It wears a red apron-like cloth around its waste, and its eyes are googling in opposite directions.

Origin-wise, mappira is pretty straight forward. The word mappira literally means “totally flat,” but it is used to describe genuine and sincere contriteness or humility. The image conveyed is one of a person bowing so low that they are flat along the floor. It’s not a normal every day word, of course. In fact, people use it so rarely these days that it sounds a bit cartoonish. But in the old days, it was used especially in the phrase “mappira gomen!” This phrase was used when you absolutely did not want to do something that was asked of you, and you were apologizing in advance for not doing it. It can also carry the nuance of begging for forgiveness.

So with that in mind, it really raises the question what this poor little mappira did or wants. Why are you lying on the floor like that? Are you asking for permission to do something? Are you apologizing for not being able to complete someone’s request? Are you groveling like some pathetic goblin servant begging your evil master not to squash you like a bug?

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