Ok, I’m stretching relevancy here to Hakuouki and/or the Shinsengumi quite a bit, but it’s my tumblr, and I adore Matthew Meyer’s yokai art. (The style reminds me a bit of Michael Hague’s illustrations in childhood fantasy/fairy tale books).
These creatures (and some ghosts) are from all over Japan, and Meyer explains where from, and shares stories with sources about them in the links below.
I picked some of my favourite pieces of Meyer’s artwork, and also, to be more strictly relevant, I included an oni.
Meyer also has a pretty, more easily-navigable site: Yokai.com, which takes the form of a field guide to Yokai (plus some ghosts and gods), and some people might enjoy that site more, but I love the blog best because of all the extra information about his art and the history.
Matthew Meyer. A Yokai a day Series. Keukegen. Gouache and acrylic painting.
Keukegen, “mysterious hairy thing,” is a monster that lives in Japanese houses. It is the size of a small dog, and cute and hairy – but don’t let that fool you into raising one! Keukegen is a disease spirit and will bring sickness and disease to your house if you let it grow!
HABITAT: dark streets and alleys; formerly clouds and holy mountains
DIET: unknown; possibly rain, or children
APPEARANCE: Ame-onna are a class of yokai that appear on rainy days and nights. They summon rain wherever they go, and are often blamed for kidnapping and spiriting children away. They appear as depraved, haggish women, soaked with rainwater, often licking the rain off of their hands and arms like wild animals.
BEHAVIOR: Ame-onna are related to minor rain deities. However, unlike the gods, ame-onna are not benevolent. Though the rains they bring might save a village in drought or bring fortune to farmers, ame-onna have another purpose in mind: they wander the villages on rainy nights looking for newborn babies. If they should find a child born that night, they snatch it and carry it off into the darkness, spiriting it away to turn it into another ame-onna.
Mothers who have their babies snatched away in this manner are sometimes known to transform into ame-onna themselves out of grief and despair. Having lost their minds, these transformed women roam the streets at night with large sacks hoping to replace what was stolen from them while they were still human. They sneak into houses where crying children can be heard, and steal them away from their homes into the night.
ORIGIN: The first ame-onna go back to the ancient folk religions of Japan and China, where the rains were said to be brought by benevolent gods and goddesses who live as clouds by morning and as rain by night, forever traveling between heaven and earth. Legend has it that somehow, some of these rain-bringing goddesses became corrupted and gradually evolved into evil yokai, abandoning their divinity to live among mortals and prey upon them.
RAIN WOMEN AND MEN
These days, it’s not uncommon to hear somebody called ame-onna or ame-otoko (for men) in daily conversation. This term refers to unlucky people who seem to bring rain with them wherever they go, ruining outdoor events and generally spoiling good moods, but are not related in any way to the yokai. The opposite terms, hare-onna and hare-otoko, refer to those people for whom the sun always seems to shine whenever they go to outdoor events.
I’ve just reached three hundred followers on Hakuouki History. I’m very grateful to my followers for all the feedback, support, and interesting information they’ve given me. This blog has taken off in a way I couldn’t have imagined when it started less than a year ago.
One of the most obvious changes has been that the audience has gone way beyond Hakuouki fandom. This blog is still rooted in Hakuouki, but I have plenty of followers from other Bakumatsu fandoms: as well as folks just generally interested in Japanese history and culture. Some of these followers know way more about this stuff than me. It’s really humbling.
Yokai – monsters from Japanese folklore – are some of the zaniest and wildest things ever imagined up. From the mists of Japanese prehistory, through the medieval ages, up to today, the bestiary of Japanese folklore contains a wide range of monsters. There are women with extra mouths in the backs of their heads, water goblins whose favorite food is human anus, elephant-dragons which feed solely on bad dreams, dead baby zombies, talking foxes, fire-breathing chickens, animated blobs of rotten flesh that run about the streets at night… The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons is a massive illustrated bestiary choc full of yokai. It features over one hundred traditional Japanese monsters, each one beautifully illustrated in full color by yokai artist Matthew Meyer. Each yokai is described in detail, including origins, habitat, diet, and legend, based on translations from centuries-old Japanese texts. Read this book, and the next time you watch an anime or a Godzilla movie, you’ll be able to recognize their folkloric ancestors dating back centuries. You’ll find out about all of the strange mythical animals you can see at temples and shrines, on beer can labels, and even on Japanese money. Meet the predecessors to Pokemon, Power Rangers, scary J-horror girls, and all of the strange creatures that pop up in Japanese video games. Night Parade will turn anyone with a passing interest in Japanese folklore into a full-blown yokai expert!
The ebook comes in Kindle format via Amazon, but you don’t need a Kindle or an Amazon account to read it. Amazon has a free Kindle reading program you can download to view it on your computer, smartphone, or Ipad.
I’d personally love to have the hardcopy of this book, but it costs about fifty dollars, so this beautiful e-book is the next best thing.
1. To enter, you must first follow Hakuouki History. Send me an ask with the word Yokai. I will number the asks and randomly draw for three winners.
2. Giveaway closes on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015, at Midnight, Eastern Time.
3. I will contact the winners by responding to their asks. At that point, you will need to give me an email address to send the e-book to.
4. If I draw a name and the person doesn’t reply back by Friday, February 13, Midnight, Eastern Time, I will draw again from the other entries.
Matthew Meyer. A Yokai a day Series. Aonyobo. Gouache and acrylic painting.
Aonyobo is the Japanese version of a Desperate Housewife. She is a demon created from a poor and destitute fallen aristocrat, living alone in her dilapidated mansion. She waits, always preparing for rich guests to pay her a visit. They never come, but she keeps preparing. Beware, though, if you should happen to pay her a visit, she will eat you up!!
Matthew Meyer: ‘I promised myself that I would always play music for the pleasure of it regardless of whether I was the only one who was listening ‘
Cristina Torres. London
Born in North Carolina to a teacher and a university professor, raised in Connecticut and now an adopted Brooklinite, Matthew Meyer is a simple and easy approach guy. As many artist he has a secret life, one that allows him to make a living and another one dedicated to his major passion, music. Although simple for him the way he creates music remains, somehow, a mystery for us. Nevertheless, his songs have managed to reach the weloveyoursongs.com users.
Here we present you an interview to Meyer so you can get to know better this synasthesic artist.
Matthew Meyer. A Yokai a day Series. Kage-onna. Gouache and acrylic painting.
Kage-onna is the shadow woman. She appears on the walls and windows of old houses and especially haunted ones. In fact, it is said that a kage-onna is a foreboding omen; if you see one, it means your house will become haunted very soon by other yokai! So be careful!
Literally translated as “broom spirit,” hahakigami is not the ordinary broom that you and I use to clean the house. Long, long ago in Japan, the broom was not a tool for cleaning trash and brushing dust out of houses; it was a holy instrument used for purification. If you have ever seen a Shinto purification ceremony where they shake an ōnusa (a stick covered in strips of paper), that may be somewhat of spiritual successor (no pun intended) of this ancient broom tradition. The shaking of the ōnusa purifies the space around a shrine (and makes a beautiful sound!), and long ago a broom would be used in much the same way. Although today brooms are pretty much entirely used for cleaning dirt.
A hahakigami is not simply an animated broom, however. It has specific meaning. One is as a charm for safe childbirth. Because brooms are used to “sweep out” evil energy from the air and purify a room, the hahakigami is used as a sort of totem to “sweep out” the baby from the mother safely.
They are also supposedly charms to keep guests from overstaying their visit. Again, when someone has overstayed their welcome, you just want to “sweep them out” don’t you?
Finally, even though old Japanese brooms were not used for simply cleaning, it seems that the hahakigami does, in fact, enjoy running around chaotically on windy days in late autumn, sweeping the dead leaves around.
Matthew Meyer. A Yokai a day Series. Oiwa. Gouache and acrylic painting.
Oiwa, from Tokai Yotsuya Kaidan, is the most famous ghost in all of Japan! Her story is so tragic, so heartbreaking, and so scary that it has inspired over 30 movie remakes, multiple kabuki plays, puppet theaters, manga, and even modern day horror movies like Ringu and Ju-On.
These are meant to be depictions of the original legendary creatures and beings of Ionian legend as opposed to the models that are named and slightly resemble their namesake. Just wanted to be make this clear, none of the art is mine and they are meant to be merely what the namesakes of the models look like, not the models themselves. This was just something I need to say, nothing more ^^