[ History and the Background ]
In Japan, it has been believed since ancient times that "souls" or "spirt" dwell in the various objects around us and those "souls" or "spirits" transform into demons when they have something to say to the living humans.
The soul or spirit is what animates all phenomena, a kind of "life". They believed that people, animals, plants, mountains, rivers, rocks, stones, and even tools and household objects made by people had souls.
“Gods” are the most important and respected of these souls, and they are enshrined in shrines and prayed to work for the good of people. For example, the "spirit of the mountain" was enshrined in the "shrine of the mountain god" found all over Japan.
”Yokai (Demons, Ghosts or Apparitions)”, on the other hand, are the spirits or souls that reside in various phenomena and beings, and have emerged and transformed as demons (or ghosts, apparitions) for various reasons.
Some appear because they have a guilty conscience, but there are also many that we don't know why they appear. Some come out simply to scare people, while others come out to warn people.
Source: Integrated Collections Database of the National Museums, Japan (https://colbase.nich.go.jp/collection_items/tnm/A-18?locale=en)
For example, foxes and raccoons, which are well known in Japan for their characteristics of transformation, are representative of animals that can transform when they get old. There is a tradition that tools and household objects that have been used for 99 years and then thrown away without being appreciated will transform into monsters because of a "grudge ". And it was also believed that as humans grew older, they too could gain the power to become ”Yokai”, if for some other reason.
And these “Yokai” were thought to live in many places. They could be found in the mountains, in the sea, in rivers and swamps, in the thorns and azaleas on the borders of villages and towns, and even inside houses. “Yokai" were things that could transform, appearing in the dark and in places where people did not have complete control. For people who thought about “Yokai” in this way, it was frightening to go out and spend the night in places where “Yokai” might appear. In those days, it was natural for people to think that “Yokai” had appeared when they encountered strange phenomena or experiences.
Our ancestors have passed down many stories about “Yokai”. These stories are imprinted with the Japanese way of thinking about nature, tools and household goods, and people.
This story was summarized and translated from [ Yokai : Mysterious things around Us. Do yokai really exist? Illustrated book] Written by Kazuhiko Komatsu (Director, International Research Center for Japanese Studies) Published by Graphic-sha (original in Japanese)
[ What is “Hyakki Yagyo - Night Parade of One Hundred Demons”? ]
“Hyakki yagyo“ a term came from “Konjaku Monogatari Shu“ (“The Collection of Tales of the Past and Present“) and other tales that are considered to be written in the later timing of the Heian period (794-1185)
The translation of “Hyakki（百鬼）” is "one hundred demons" and “Yagyo（夜行）” is “night parade”. And it describes a procession of frightening and bizarre-looking “Yokai” appearing out of nowhere and roaming along the main streets of Kyoto in the dark.
One of the original drawings of this mysterious phenomenon is seen in the "Hyakki Yagyo Emaki (picture scroll)" (painting attributed to Mitsunobu Tosa), drawn in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) and is owned by Daitokuji Temple Shinju-an in Kyoto.
This picture scroll is a typical example of the “Night Parade of One Hundred Demons“, and is considered to be one of the oldest and most well-drawn examples of its kind and has been considered to be used as a prototype for many similar creations made in the Edo period, that now exists many in different forms.
The book “The World of Hyakki Yagyo” A Collaborative Exhibition with the National Institutes for the Humanities,
supervised by the National Research Center for Japanese Studies, showing "Hyakki Yagyo Emaki (picture scroll)" (painting attributed to Mitsunobu Tosa), owned by Daitokuji Temple Shinju-an.
A distinguishing hallmark of the "Hyakki Yagyo Emaki (picture scroll)"(painting attributed to Mitsunobu Tosa) is the preponderance of yokai emanating from tools and household items, setting it apart from other picture scrolls depicting yokai. This scroll, featuring a large number of such yokai, captures the essence of the Japanese way of perceiving the supernatural and showcases the culture's affinity for attributing life and emotion to everyday objects.
supervised by the National Research Center for Japanese Studies, showing from left "Nyoi Jizai","Oogi","Sho", from "Hyakki Yagyo Emaki (picture scroll)" (painting attributed to Mitsunobu Tosa), owned by Daitokuji Temple Shinju-an.
In essence, the concept of Hyakki Yagyo and the myriad tales of yokai preserved throughout Japanese history reflect a sophisticated understanding of the world and its inhabitants, both seen and unseen.
These stories, woven into the very fabric of the culture, continue to captivate and intrigue, shedding light on the complex interplay between the natural world, the spiritual realm, and the human psyche.
As Hyakki Yagyo demonstrates, the Japanese people have long embraced a sense of wonder and reverence for the unseen forces at work in the world around them, fostering a deep appreciation for the mysterious and enigmatic aspects of life.
Tomonori Yamasaki's Maki-e drawing is based on this “Hyakki Yagyo Emaki (picture scroll)“ (painting attributed to Mitsunobu Tosa). The interesting characters in the Guinomi Maki-e are from those interesting “Yokai”. That is why there is Yokai of a Fan or a Pot that is humorous and charming in some ways.
[ How and Why Tomonori Yamasaki came to Create the “Hyakki Yagyo” Guinomi ]
[ Motives and Inspirations ]
I have always been fascinated by imaginarycreatures such as demons and ghosts, and I am fascinated by the history of how people in the past have breathed life into natural phenomena and things around them with their rich imaginations.
Especially, I had been particularly fond of the “Hyakki Yagyo“ because of its interesting appearances and the designs of demons and household goods, and I thought it would be cool if it was made into maki-e.
When I thought of ten Guinomi sake cups lined up, these demons and ghosts were the first ones that came to my mind.
[ What I wanted to Express here ]
How should I express their dynamism? What materials to use and how to use them is a matter of skill for a maki-e artist, but what I always keep in mind is to maximize the effect of the materials. The texture of the demons’ and ghosts' skins, the clothes they wear, and the tools they carry. I don't want to ruin the fun atmosphere by making it too heavy. This is probably the most fun part of the planning process. In the end, when putting in the black eyes are the moment I will be most careful and attentive. Location, direction, size, and shape. This one black spot will determine their personality and emotions.
“Yokai“ or “Hyakki Yagyo“ is not necessarily an auspicious theme, but I made it with the hope and with a lot of care in making their eyes that they will bring cheerfulness to the people who look at them. I will be pleased if you take a good look at them.
I hope you like my “Hyakki Yagyo“.
Tomonori Yamasaki 山崎 友典
Guinomi - All Sold Out -
- Night Parade of 100 Demons -