[ History and the Background ]

Japanese people have long believed that all phenomena and beings have a "soul" or "spirit" in them.

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. 

"Tuchigumo Zoushi (土蜘蛛草子)" 
The story of Minamoto no Raikou, a warlord from the mid-Heian period, who fights off spider monster in Kyoto.
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 to transform, 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 "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 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”? ]

A procession of frightening and bizarre-looking “Yokai” appear out of nowhere and roam around Kyoto in the dark. ... In the Heian period (794-1185), this mysterious phenomenon was called "Hyakki Yagyo (Night Parade of One Hundred Demons)".

Tomonori Yamasaki's Maki-e drawing is based on "Hyakki Yagyo Emaki (picture scroll)" (painting attributed to Mitsunobu Tosa), which was 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 prototypes for many similar later creations.

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. 


One of the characteristics of this "Hyakki Yagyo Emaki (picture scroll)" (painting attributed to Mitsunobu Tosa) is that it has a large number of “Yokai of tools and household goods”, even among picture scrolls depicting “Yokai”. 

 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 from left "Nyoi Jizai","Oogi","Sho", from "Hyakki Yagyo Emaki (picture scroll)" (painting attributed to Mitsunobu Tosa), owned by Daitokuji Temple Shinju-an. 

 

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 ]

Tomonori Yamasaki

I have always been fascinated by imaginary creatures 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. 

 

[ The message I want to convey ]

"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 like my "Hyakki Yagyo". 

 

Tomonori Yamasaki 山崎 友典

 

 >>  Biography of  Tomonori Yamasaki 

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