Start searching »
The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore
Published by University of California Press
Monsters, ghosts, fantastic beings, and supernatural phenomena of all sorts haunt the folklore and popular culture of Japan. Drawing on years of research in Japan, this book unpacks the history and cultural context of yokai, tracing their roots, interpreting their meanings, and introducing people who have hunted them through the ages.
Monsters, ghosts, fantastic beings, and supernatural phenomena of all sorts haunt the folklore and popular culture of Japan. Broadly labeled yokai, these creatures come in infinite shapes and sizes, from tengu mountain goblins and kappa water spirits to shape-shifting foxes and long-tongued ceiling-lickers. Currently popular in anime, manga, film, and computer games, many yokai originated in local legends, folktales, and regional ghost stories. Drawing on years of research in Japan, Michael Dylan Foster unpacks the history and cultural context of yokai, tracing their roots, interpreting their meanings, and introducing people who have hunted them through the ages. In this delightful and accessible narrative, readers will explore the roles played by these mysterious beings within Japanese culture and will also learn of their abundance and variety through detailed entries, some with original illustrations, on more than fifty individual creatures. The Book of Yokai provides a lively excursion into Japanese folklore and its ever-expanding influence on global popular culture. It also invites readers to examine how people create, transmit, and collect folklore, and how they make sense of the mysteries in the world around them. By exploring yokai as a concept, we can better understand broader processes of tradition, innovation, storytelling, and individual and communal creativity.
List of Illustrations Water Goblin Tales: Preface and Acknowledgments Names, Dates, Places Part I. Yokai Culture 1. Introducing Yokai Yokai, Folklore, and This Book The Language of Yokai Event Becomes Object 2. Shape-Shifting History Heroes of Myth and Legend Weird Tales and Weird Tastes Modern Disciplines Postwar Animation and the Yokai Boom 3. Yokai Practice/Yokai Theory Yokai Culture Network Zone of Uncertainty Part II. Yokai Codex 4. The Order of Yokai 5. Wilds 6. Water 7. Countryside 8. Village and City 9. Home Epilogue: Monsterful Notes Bibliography Alphabetized List of Yokai in the Codex Index
Michael Dylan Foster is Associate Professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. He is the author of Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai and numerous articles on Japanese folklore, literature, and media. Shinonome Kijin is an artist and scholar of yokai. He lives and works in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
Reviewer: Ian Rapley