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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$25.79+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on May 30, 2015
This book is absolutely stunning. I've always loves yokai and have collected as many books as I can on the subject, and this one is by far my favorite because it is so cohesive and includes many, many types that I haven't read about in my other books. There are two downsides I've stumbled across, one being that some information contradicts other books I've read (which with a subject like yokai is fairly forgivable because legends do evolve) and the more.... I'd say 'upsetting' one is how some of the images were handled. Many look wonderful, I'd say the majority are great, but some look as though they were small images stretched to fill whole or half pages when they shouldn't have been, and that left them pixelated. None so badly you can't see what they are, but a few distractingly so. That is the only reason I felt I had to take away one star.

Beyond that, the information is amazing and opened the door to many yokai I'd never heard about and that was the entire purpose for me. If you read about one you really do like, I'd recommend just looking them up separately to make sure the information is correct. It works perfectly as a starting point, and a beautiful starting point at that. Even with the handful of pixel-images, it's still probably the prettiest yokai-related book on my shelf.
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on September 7, 2016
This book is filled with a bunch of fascinating facts about tons of yokai and I learned things I didn't know before. It is a perfect book for yokai fanatics everywhere!
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on November 2, 2010
A well researched book, densely populated with weird and interesting entries. I discovered more yokai than I had imagined existed. The essays on the more popular Japanese spirit folk--kappa, kitsune, tengu, &c.--are delightfully lengthy, but just as interesting are the more obscure yokai listed here, such as a monk made of ash, a microscopic viral boar, or a giant sea cucumber born from a girl's discarded underclothes. This book is dense with legendary creatures, the entries including any relevant folklore whenever possible.

Although the amount of text is admirable (if not sometimes a little glib), the design of the book is a little disappointing. It's illustrated throughout, but often the works shown (most of them Edo period prints) are pixelated, as if they had been lifted off the web from a Wikipedia article. The original illustrations by Anthony Wallis are reproduced well, but his pictures sometimes pale next to those of Kuniyoshi and other Japanese printmakers. (Also--and I realize this is a huge nitpick--the designers used a title font in the book that does not include all of the glyphs used in yokai names, so occasionally an special character appears in the middle of a heading in a different typeface than the rest of the word. It looks sloppy.)

Still, I purchased this book hoping to learn more about yokai, especially the obscure ones I could not find in other books or the internet, and in that sense, this book really delivers. A solid reference for those interested in the weird critters and beings that inhabit Japan's folk tales.
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on January 13, 2016
I read it and I don't like the formatting too much, reading the beginning says that costs were cut to keep the price low, so I guess I understand.
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on December 1, 2016
Extensively researched and thorough.
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on August 8, 2012
The Great Yokai Encyclopedia had new yokai that I have never known about before. As soon as I opened up the book, i could tell that i would cherish it forever. I do agree with the following reviews that this book doesn't have an index to help the reader search for a certain species of yokai and some of the pictures are hard to tell which yokai it is (unless you start reading each creature's infomation to match the written description to the picture which can take some time). But, it is a good book if you have alot of imagination and if you don't mind this weird format.
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on January 31, 2012
All mythologies contain strange creatures, but the record holder for most strange creatures of all must surely be the mythology of Japan.

After an introduction telling a bit about Japanese history and the appearance of Japanese mythological themes in popular culture, this book goes on to list literally hundreds of different mythological creatures in alphabetical order.

Yokai is a broad term referring to any mythological creature from Japan. Some of the yokai may be familiar to a number of people, such as the Kappa, a cucumber-loving water monster that tears out people's bowels through their anus; the Oni, Japan's answer to ogres and trolls; the Tatsu, the dragons of Japan; the Tengu, supernatural birdmen; and so on.
Others may be a lot less well known, such as the Atsuuikakura, a giant flesh-eating sea cucumber that grows from the undergarments of a dead girl; the Bake-Kujira, a skeletal phantom whale; the Basan, a fire-breathing rooster; the Gashadokuro, a giant animated skeleton; the Katakiruwa, a one-eared flaming pig that steals souls and renders people impotent; the Mouryo, a big bipedal rabbit that eats corpses; and much, much more.
The book does not appear to leave out any yokai. Even the most obscure and little known ones get an entry, even its just a small entry.
A few of the yokai are briefly compared to similar creatures from other mythologies in the world, which helps provide some quite interesting extra info.

Some of the yokai are known to be real animals that the old tales have bestowed with supernatural qualities. The tanuki (racoon dog), for instance, is a primitive type of dog that the legends bestow with sentience, shape-shifting and scrotum enlarging abilities (and no, I am not just joking about the last one).
Also, some yokai could be real animals still officially undiscovered by science. Examples of these include the ape-like Hibagon, the lake monster Issie, and the flattened snake Tsuchinoko.

The book is well organised and pays a lot of attention to detail. I think most people reading it would end up learning a lot that they didn't know before. I certainly did.
I would recommend The Great Yokai Encyclopedia to anyone interested in Japanese mythology, or even just mythology in general.
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on January 8, 2014
Looking at the colorful cover I expected a wide array of colorful pictures of yokai on the inside; nopes! They are in black & white & I give the pictures 3 stars. They really could be more clear, less fuzzy in some parts. As for the content, it's pretty extensive, written in dictionary style. I would consider this a ' flip and read in my spare time book '.
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on February 9, 2014
Excellent resource material, although could do with a cross-reference section.

The problems mostly reside in the typos. Repeated words, misspelling within the same entry (Oiwa), & even words missing letters! This seems to get worse the deeper into the book you get, giving the impression that proof reading was only cursory.

Added to that a number of the illustrations are obviously of too low a quality to be full page printed. Some a very pixelated.

This book would have had 5 stars without these glaring problems.
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on February 18, 2011
I liked this book for the complete lists and description. I know, you vould read it from the japanese yokai encyclopedia, if you know japanese... but the author is sincere and gives you an amazing list of sites, movies and translates a lot of japanese yokai to a more digestive english.
If you like folklore, it is for you; if you like RPG, it is for you; if you want pictures... go chase in the wikepedia. The downsize of this book is the illustrations: you can take a lot of better pictures freeware from the internet, with better quality than those in the book (some from the internet. It is the only thing that keeps the book to be perfect
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