Tuesday, 30 June 2020


One of the latest episode of 99% Invisible is a fascinating and wide-ranging survey of the fantastical menagerie of legendary creatures—this bestiary captured in community and corporate mascots and games—including the Amabié, other mythical characters and yōkai.
There are more guides for reference plus a profile of the academic and philosopher Inoue Enryō (*1868 – †1919) self-appointed superstition dispeller (embarking on the above field,  妖怪学, of research) of the Meiji Restoration and the opening of Japan when it became obvious at least to him that Japanese folk beliefs were putting it at an economic and political disadvantage. I am reminded of the words of Ursula K. Le Guin: “People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons—from within.” Despite Inoue’s reputation as an agent of debunkery and responsible for ending many local customs in the name of enlightenment, it is also thanks to his extensive research that we have as much documentation and knowledge about yōkai, an ethnographer much like the Brothers Grimm and burdened with similar baggage, that we presently enjoy.