Summer is the season for different kinds of ghostly activity in Japan. During the Obon festival in August, the ancestors are said to come back home to the human world. There is also a tradition of telling ghost stories that send shivers down your spine, thus keeping you cool during the hot summer nights. Many stories tell us about yokai, supernatural monsters, spirits and demons in Japanese folklore. They take different forms and cause all kinds of mischief to humans. They occasionally also bring good fortune to those who encounter them. In Japan yokai have been used to explain the unexplainable. The feeling when you're walking home at night and you feel that someone's following you although there's no one there? The strange sound of someone washing beans in the river stream? Yes, that's a yokai. Yokai have been an inspiration to several Japanese artists, from the woodblock print master Hokusai to the manga artist Mizuki Shigeru, who created the series 'Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro'. Also the shape-shifting tanuki raccoon dogs in Hayao Miyazaki's 'Pompoko' are originally yokai creatures from Japanese folklore.
Kyoto was the royal capital city and the center of Japanese culture and history for about thousand years (794-1867). Nowadays, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Japan and tourists from all over the world come to see the World Cultural Heritage sites, national treasures and cultural properties of Kyoto. As the cultural and historical capital of Japan, many historical relics and documents have been preserved. Not widely known, but Kyoto is also the home to several legends and ghost stories also known as kaidan. There are myriads of stories about for example, a bridge where the dead become alive, revengeful spirits who cause natural disasters or a noble man who acts as assistant at the court of Buddhist hell. The historical places where the stories take place can still be visited nowadays.
Yokai are supernatural monsters, spirits and demons that appear in Japanese ghost stories and folklore. For the Japanese people, yokai are not just fantasy characters of the past, but they can still be seen in contemporary popular culture. From the woodblock prints of Hokusai to modern day manga, anime, novels and movies, yokai serve as inspiration to different kinds of cultural products. Japanese people have loved strange things since the ancient times. That is why yokai still remain popular. Japanese yokai combine entertainment and commerce and with the pictures and stories produced, artists keep on reinventing and expressing yokai in new and exciting ways, while also preserving the original themes. Although while being things of the past, yokai keep on living in the modern times through this kind of process of expression and reinvention.
In Japan, it was believed that if not disposed of properly, when household items and tools reach the age of a hundred years, they would become alive and come back to haunt their previous owners. According to the 'Tsukumogami Chronicle', a picture scroll set in the Heian Period (794-1192), major cleaning was done all throughout Kyoto in the Koho period (964-968) and in consequence, many old tools were thrown away. For this reason, the utensils got very angry and wanted revenge. The tools turned into yokai creatures called 'tsukumogami' and assembled at the mountains before heading off to cause mischief to the townspeople. Wishing for long lasting prosperity, the tsukumogami gathered to have a parade in the honor of the god of transformation, Henge Daimyoji, who had helped them to become alive. At night the creatures paraded from west to east at the Ichijo Street. This parade is known as the hyakkiyagyo parade (night parade of a hundred demons). In the end, Buddhist priests are called to eradicate the creatures and make them repent for their wrong doing. The story about abandoned tools transforming into yokai creatures reflects the worldview of the ancient Japanese people. Tools were to take good care of and not thrown away lightheartedly. This kind of thinking is also connected to modern day recycling, reusing of resources and conservation of nature. The story of tsukumogami takes place in the Ichijo Street, where the Taishogun Shopping Street is also located. That is why in 2005 Ichijo Street was named as the pathway of the night parade of a hundred demons, the Yokai Street. Every year Yokai Street hosts different kinds of yokai-related events.
Yokai and Kyoto are the perfect match. The former combining old and new and the latter preserving old traditions but at the same time transmitting new culture. The Taishogun Shopping Street aims to reveal the unknown charm of Kyoto. At the Taishogun Shopping Street (Ichijo Street), we are promoting local area revitalization and tourism based on the theme of yokai, with also laying emphasis on recycling and ecological thinking.
Various artists sell yokai-themed original goods such as accessories, stuffed animals and comic books, which are only available at the Mononoke Ichi.
At evening, he will sneak into someone's house while they are busy. However, we cannot notice him action even he drink a tea and smoke a chigger.
He is sometimes said to be leader of the y?kai.
According to superstition, an old cat would have two tails. Also they can understand a human speech and good at putting the towel on head and dance like a human. Furthermore, they are able to control a dead body. So people tend to protect a corpse from them.