Nick Redfern Interviews Richard Freeman On The Yokai

lordmongrove

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Japanese Monsters: An Interview With Richard Freeman

Just recently CFZ Press published Richard Freeman's new book, The Great Yokai Encyclopedia: An A to Z of Japanese Monsters. An appropriately Godzilla-sized book (it runs at 416 pages!), Yokai is a definitive look at the strange creatures and beasts of Japan, both in times-past and the present.

A couple of days ago I interviewed Rich about his book, which practically turned into a book-length venture too! Here you go:

Nick: Broadly speaking, what is the book about?

Rich: The book is about the monsters and ghosts of Japan. These are collectively known as Yokai and constitute a veritable supernatural menagerie. With a handful of exceptions these amazing creatures and characters are almost unknown in the west. The book looks at the cultural background that gave rise to these legends and then lists the creatures in an encyclopedic form.

Full Interview: http://monsterusa.blogspot.com/2010/07/japan.html
 

Zilch5

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Interesting - I think the magical powers of the foxes in Japan has been mentioned here before.
 

lordmongrove

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Ironicaly the wolf, so villified (unjustly) in the west is concidered a positive force in Japan.
 

oldrover

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With all respect, and goodwill, and with an understanding of how much work it must have taken, I've got to ask is this cryptozoology?
 

lordmongrove

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Quite a bit.It covers he possible survival of Japanse wolves, sea serpents, lake monsters, the tsuchioko (a unknown species of doso-ventrally flattened snake), hibagon(an ape like beast), a mystery cat on Irimote island (possably a clouded leopard)and a shd oad of other stuff.
 

oldrover

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Hope you didn't mind my asking. And I'm not knocking the content at all, but I don't see the connection between the Irimote cat, the wolves and the snake who would be real flesh and blood, with the Tengu, Oni and Kappa.

I don't want to go on about this in terms of your book, because I wouldn't want to appear to critical of it, or disrespectful of your work, which as someone whose just struggled to write 20 pages I realise it must have been a hell of an undertaking. But I do want to raise it as a general point, not about your book, on a new thread.
 

lordmongrove

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All thereal animals mentioned have had superntural attributes or mystrious attributes attached to them.The Japanese wolf, or okami was said o guide lost travlers down from the mountains. If it drank from poisoned water it ook on human attibutes and became like a man (a reverse werewolf if you will). The tanuki or racoon dog ad hpe shifting balls, and the tengu may have been based of the veneration of kites (the birds) by early anamist Japanese. The cryptozoological snake tsuchinoko has stories about it going back to the Jamon era. Tatsu,the Japanese dragon, as with other Asian dragons is an elongate reptile associated with water, rainfall and the sea. They old be based o encounters with creatures we now call 'sea serpents'. So whilst not every yokai has conection alot do.
 

OneWingedBird

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And Yokai is an odd sort of classifiacation, iirc more of an umbrella terminology that covers more or less anything folklore/supernatural/bloody weird, so perhaps it's appropriate that this more or less covers everything relevant irrespective of how it would be classified in western weird shit taxonomy.

I'll have to give the book a look in sometime.
 

lordmongrove

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I think you've got it about right there.
 

RabidReader

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lordmongrove said:
http://monsterusa.blogspot.com/2010/07/japan.html

This reader wonders whether Mr Redfern has already gotten the help he needed translating from Japanese?
 

Kondoru

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Ive always thought of tengu as shamanatic characters
 

lordmongrove

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One idea is that they were based on mountain mystics.Shugendo is a religion perculiar to Japan. It arose from the veneration of sacred mountains that were the dwelling place of kami (spirits). This became overlaid with symbolism and belifes from both Taoism and Buddhism. The priests of Shugendo were known as yamabushi meaning ‘to lie down in the mountains’. They climbed to the peaks to preform special ceremonies said to endow them with magickal powers.
The 18th-century Kaidan Toshiotoko tells of a tengu that served the abbot of a Zen monastary for many years in the guise of a yamabushi monk.
The mountain ascetic Doryo Daigongen became a Zen monk and upon his death in 1411 vowed to become the guardian of the Daiyuzan temple.He was supposedly transformed into a fire wreathed tengu who rode a huge white fox. He promised a healthy and rich life to those who worshiped him.
Doryo, many years later, helped a young monk create the Saijoji Temple. He becan by tossing a boulder into a clearing. The boulder is still in the temple today and is swathed in Shinto robes. Nearby is a healing well. People still visit the well to take home jugs full of it’s water. At the top of the temple is a shrine to Doryo who is now considered a Bodhisattva.
 

James_H

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'pompoko' (studio Ghibli film) has a great yokai scene near the end that recreates several classic ukiyo e woodcuts.
 
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