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Yokai Museum: The Art of Japanese Supernatural Beings from YUMOTO Koichi Collection (Japanese, Japanese and Japanese Edition) (Japanese) Tankobon Softcover – October 1, 2013
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The book is pretty thick and the quality of it is amazing. The paper is thick and smells pretty darn good. I love that fresh book smell! The pictures are crystal clear and they're so colorful!
Moving onto the actual content of the book... I read this book during the day and with other people around me, I refuse to open it at night! The book contains pictures of actual artwork from the Yokai Museum in Japan. The artwork are from early periods, so they aren't modern or anything, they are traditional. They reminded me of the enemies and artwork from the videogame Okami (which is the reason why I wanted this book so bad). The artwork have stories and descriptions and some of them are very creepy! There are many different yokai in this book and I was downright terrified by some of them (like a floating head, yikes!)
Yokai Museum is divided into six chapters covering various formats of yokai art that appeared over time: picture scrolls, books, woodblock prints, games, everyday items, and religious items. Chapter 1: Picture Scrolls – A Cast of Colorful Yokai begins with the oldest known piece of true yokai art: the Hyakki Yagyō Emaki scroll attributed to Tosa Mitsunobu. It then shows a large number of other scrolls, including detailed close ups, and goes over the history and development of the styles used in these paintings. Chapter 2: The World of Yokai Books starts with Toriyama Sekien’s Gazu Hyakki Yagyō and moves on to the “yellow cover” books and other kusazoshi printed material from the Edo period. Chapter 3: Nishiki-e – A World of Gorgeous Color features the beautiful and colorful woodblock prints from the golden age of ukiyoe. Images by Hokusai, Yoshitoshi, and other masters are included alongside other less well-known pieces. Pictures of Edo period color newspapers, large format tryptichs, advertisements, and other old images are beautifully reproduced here. Chapter 4: Yokai Games is full of toys and games of all kinds from the Edo period up until the Showa period. There are illustrated board games, card games, fold-up paper models, kamishibai, and beautiful, strangely crafted mechanical wooden toys that would probably give any kid today nightmares! Chapter 5: Yokai Lurking in Everyday Life contains pictures of everyday items including kimono, obi, and other clothes, dishes, bottles, netsuke, even knife handles and sword guards. Chapter 6: Yokai and Prayer features a large number of votive cards that feature illustrations of various yokai on them. There are also works of art with religious significance which once belonged to various temples.
I was surprised at just how pervasive the yokai influence actually got to be. While I have long been a fan of the old prints and paintings from the Edo period, this was the first time I had ever seen yokai-themed kimonos, and that just blew me away! And while I had seen yokai paintings, prints, and netsuke, before, the votive cards and toys that were created over a hundred years ago (and look like they could have been made today) were amazing.