Back in England!
Today I am e-mailing the Kyoto International Manga Museum about an exhibition of Japanese Folklore I saw in August while we were there.
Japanese Folklore is heavily influenced by Shinto and Buddhism, as these are the two main religions in Japan. It features some of the most surreal characters and story lines I’ve ever come across, and I got particularly excited about some of the ‘Yōkai‘ or monster spirit characters, as they have the ability to shape-shift, have supernatural powers and tend to be pretty irritating – for example, there is one character who hides in trees above paths that travelers often tread, transforms him self into a giant disembodied head, and falls out of the tree infront of said traveler to terrify him. There is another character who has a giant eye instead of a bottom, and uses this to terrify people in a similar fashion by pulling down his trousers when they least expect.
Often these characters are a mixture of human and animal, and some can originate from as exotic locations as ‘The Capital of The Moon’ so there’s no end of fun to be had reading about them.
This is ‘Kappa’; a kind of humanoid child sized amphibious river spirit. Kappa inhabit ponds and rivers in Japan and like to fart loudly and look up lady’s Kimonos. Kind of looks very similar to ‘Ponyo’ from Miyazaki’s new film of the same name, but where as Kappa are quite happy just being Kappa, Ponyo is a goldfish who wants to be a human girl. (Sigh, awesome)
I was really impressed with the KIMM – not only does it have an absolutely phenomenal library of Manga new and old, it has a complete history of how it developed and a tonne of interactive stuff like this:
You can also enjoy a beer outside on the astro turf – complete with fake dirt!
Want to go back to Japaaaan.