LoveDen (ラブ電)

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“Love will come to you when you ride the train!”

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do a poster for the local train company. Last yera a new annual event was created — LoveDen (it’s not as dirty as it sounds; “den” is short for the Japanese word for train) — basically a speed dating kind of thing for singles to go and meet other singles. They ride the local train line and have coffee, tea, and snacks, and I guess at certain stops on the line they change partners (or stay with their current partner if they like each other). It’s a pretty interesting idea, mainly to raise awareness and the reach out to young folks to ride the train more often. One of the couples who met at last year’s LoveDen is getting married soon, so that’s turning into a big piece of publicity for the event.

LoveDen

LoveDen

A-Yokai-A-Day: Azukiarai

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Today’s yokai is Azukiarai, a fairly gentle yokai who lives in the mountains. They are very shy and elusive, so it’s quite difficult to see them. Their name means “bean washer,” and that’s exactly what they do — they wash buckets of red beans in mountain streams, singing their bean-washing song, which goes like this:

“Azuki togou ka? Hito tottekuou ka? Shoki shoki.”
“Should I grind my azuki beans? Or should I snatch a person to eat? Shoki shoki (the sound of washing beans in the bucket).”

It sounds scary, but he really just sings it for fun. Azukiarai doesn’t hurt people or cause mischief, though it is said that anyone approaching close enough to see one will inevitably fall in the water just before he runs away.

Azuki-arai

Azukiarai

The Wedding

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Here’s a bonus chicken painting to follow up on The Commando and The Zulu I posted recently. The gallery that showed Hanamachi invited me to show another piece, this one F20 size — which I soon found out is BIG! Not huge, mind you, but big compared to all my other paintings so far — roughly 727×606 mm, or 5 times the size of the other chicken paintings. So it was a real challenge and a real pleasure to paint The Wedding.

The Wedding

The Wedding

The model for this painting, I’m proud to say, was my own wedding. Much artistic liberty has been taken — aside from the obvious transformation into chickens — the clothing was changed, and the shrine in the background has some tweaks to it, but it goes fairly well with our wedding photos. The chicken models are from a local farm. It took a fair amount of time to do, but even more to dry, and I was finally able to scan it yesterday morning, about half an hour before I took it to the gallery in Kanazawa.

A-Yokai-A-Day: Usu-tsuki-warashi

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Yesterday I showed you Zashiki-warashi, which is named for the zashiki — a kind of room in a Japanese house. I mentioned that there are different kinds of zashiki-warashi, and they vary in terms of pleasantness. Most zashiki-warashi appear as young children, and while they love to play pranks and mess around, they’re generally well-liked yokai.  Today’s yokai has a much less wholesome image. This isUsu-tsuki-warashi. It’s named for a Japanese millstone, and has a slightly less wholesome image. Usu-tsuki-warashi is connected with ancient infanticide customs, in which an unwanted baby would be buried in a warehouse, in a dirt floor, or underneath the millstone.

Usu-tsuki warashi is said to cause general feelings of unease in houses that it inhabits. It crawls out from beneath the dirt floor and creeps about the house, making noises like someone pounding on a millstone (thus its name). It’s not a malevolent yokai, but it certainly can feel that way.

Unfortunately, it’s like that driving it out of the house would have the same ruinous effects that driving its more-pleasant cousin out would have… so a family with a Usu-tsuki-warashi may have to live with the creepy yokai rather than forcing it to leave.

Usu-tsuki-warashi

Usu-tsuki-warashi

The Commando

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This was finished last week, but finally became dry enough to scan yesterday. I wasn’t sure when I should post this, because with the A-Yokai-A-Day project, I didn’t want to step on the heels of my previous post… but I suppose I’ll have to post it now rather than wait until November to do so.

Here is my most recent Chicken of the Word: The Commando. He is a Vietnam War era-inspired soldier.

I’m trying to think of more to say than just that… I guess I hope the painting speaks for itself? I can say, though, that after painting The Zulu and The Commando, I don’t want to do any more jungle foliage for a while.

The Commando

The Commando

On a final note, I have one more chicken painting to post here… but I think I’ll wait until tomorrow so as not to steop on this one’s heels, or the heels of the yokai painting I have to paint and then post tonight. Yikes, I’ve got my hands full!

A-Yokai-A-Day: Zashiki-warashi

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Today’s yokai is a little less sinister than yesterday’s. This is Zashiki-warashi, a house spirit which looks like a young child. It’s generally a harmless spirit, and it’s said that if you see one in your house, it will bring you good fortune (though it’s also said they are invisible to adults). However, if it ever leaves your house, you will fall into ruin. Zashiki-warashi are pranksters who like to make noise, move things about, and goof off in other ways. They’ll often jump on sleeping guests in the middle of the night, and then vanish before anyone can see them. They also like to play with anything in the house that makes noise, or run around singing Japanese “spirit music.” Another of their favorite pranks to do is to rub their feet in the ashes from the fire place and run around the house, leaving footprints everywhere. In some areas, people leave food out at night for the zashiki-warashi in hopes to keep it happy.

Zashiki Warashi

Zashiki-warashi

There are a number of variations on zashiki-warashi, and while this one is a prankster, it’s relatively pleasant. We’ll see a less pleasant variation tomorrow.

A-Yokai-A-Day: Hyosube

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Today’s yokai is Hyosube. This nasty fellow is a cousin of the much-beloved Kappa, a slightly mischievous river spirit, however, Hyosube is much crueler. Those who cross one of these foul little wretches often find themselves sorry for it. Like the kappa,  he lives in rivers most of the time; but he likes to venture in to towns to, among other things, take baths in people’s houses. His body is covered in thick hair, which invariably gets left all over the bathroom, in the tub, and every he’s been. If you’re hairy like me, you know this problem only too well — we Meyers are a hairy bunch — (thankfully my wife likes hyosubes so she doesn’t seem to care).

There are a few stories of people who had unfortunate run-ins with a hyosube. In one story, a woman caught a hyosube who was trashing her eggplant garden. The hyosube got angry and destroyed all of the eggplants, and afterwards the woman turned purple and soon died. In another story, a man who went to take a morning bath found hairs and a horrible smell all over his bathroom, so he made sure to empty all the hot water after his bath that night. In retaliation, the hyosube killed his horse. In a third story, another man found his bathroom befouled by a hyosube and threw the dirty hairs and water out the window. Some of the hairs landed on his horse, which promptly died. (These stories were translated from the Japanese Wikipedia page on hyosube, as the English page just redirects to the page for kappa.)

Hyosube

Hyosube

I really love how this monster as well as yesterday’s monster both sound like stories someone made up to explain away a nasty relative. “Grampa Jim always drinks our beer and smokes all our cigarettes and acts like he owns this place!” could easily be a nurarihyon, while “Uncle Carl is so rude, he stinks, and he leaves his hair all over our bathroom whenever he bathes!” could easily be the origin for a hyosube.