‘Mononoke’, an Inventory of Strange Creatures by Pen

In this book, Shigeru Mizuki offers an artistic interpretation of these supernatural beings found in Japanese legends.

They are known as Bakki, Waira, Zan and Tenaga Baba, and they take the form of an ogre, a strange beast, a mermaid or a witch with white hair. Sometimes they live in lakes and sometimes in the depths of the forest, and other times they simply take up residence in people’s attics. These yokai, fantastical and supernatural creatures, are found in the tales and legends that have been passed down for centuries in Japan.

Although their exploits are told orally, some authors have sought to create visual portraits of them. First is the Bakemono zukushi, a long scroll dating from between the 18th and 19th centuries on which these creatures appear. This was followed in 1890 by a series of prints by Kyosai Kawanabe, entitled Night Parade of 100 Demons. Then came the work of Shigeru Mizuki, considered one of the leading modern authors involved in researching these creatures from folklore.

Shigeru Mizuki was born in 1922 in the small coastal town of Sakai Minato in Tottori prefecture. He was passionate about drawing, but the war scuppered his artistic ambitions as he was enlisted in the Imperial Army and joined the troops in Papua New Guinea, where he lost an arm and caught malaria. It was not until 1957 that he started working as a mangaka, with his childhood, popular culture and the supernatural world featuring prominently in his work. Shigeru Mizuki also founded and presided over Sekai Yokai Kyokai, an association for individuals fascinated by these Japanese spirits.

Read the full article on Pen.


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