Japanese Studies invites you to learn about the mythology and artistic culture of Meiji Japan (1868-1912) through the newly acquired Kyōsai Hyakki Gadan (暁斎百鬼画談), a color woodblock print by eccentric painter and manga forerunner, Kawanabe Kyōsai (河鍋 暁斎, 1831-1889). The long, accordion book (orihon) depicts a parade of all manner of weird and wicked yōkai (妖怪), spirits and demons from Japanese mythology. This particular scene is evocative of the hyakki yagyō (百鬼夜行) idiom, a historic theme in Japanese visual representation wherein a procession of legendary creatures sets foot upon the communities of mortal men and women.
For more information about this new acquisition, please check out the full article on our Manga Blog at OSU Libraries, available here: https://library.osu.edu/site/manga/2019/10/02/night-parade-of-one-hundred-demons-kyosais-hyakki-gadan-now-at-osu-libraries/
An example of a colorful three-panel woodblock print of Japanese spirits and demons from the book Yōkai: Strange Beasts & Weird Spectres — 100 Japanese Triptychs (pages 56-57)
In Japanese folklore, yōkai (妖怪) refers to legendary ghosts, monsters, and spirits. Rooted in Japanese animism, ancient Japanese religion, and the providence of nature, these mythical creatures are attributed with strange behaviors to explain the otherwise mysterious phenomena encountered in ancient life. Shedding light on the meaning of this word, the two kanji for yōkai, mean “attractive, bewitching” (妖) and “mystery, wonder” (怪) respectively. Because of their connection to human nature, yōkai were often depicted as strange embodiments of ordinary individuals or creatures — some resembling humans, for example, with altered features such as a long neck or three eyes. Others looked like strange animals, plants, insects, or household goods.