Yokai Scroll Discovered

eBay is becoming something of an archeological treasure ground for film memorabilia relating to such cultural artefacts as the unmade 1994 US Godzilla film, War Eagles (the lost film of Willis O’Brien) and other giant monster remains. Now Boing Boing reports that a rare Japanese scroll containing a veritable wealth of Yokai-related imagery is up for sale.


The scroll contains an lengthy array of weird and wonderful creatures as though forming a “long march” — which is apparently exactly what it represents. Boing Boing asked Matt Alt, author of Yokai Attack!, about the imagery and this is what he said:

The Haykki Yako (百鬼夜行), literally “the night parade of a hundred demons,” is one of the most famous tales in Japanese folklore. It first appeared in a Buddhist text in the 13th century, and is the story of a nightmarish evening during which legions of yokai, oni, and other fearsome creatures erupted from their usual hiding places to openly terrorize the world of the living. According to one version, they paraded down Kyoto’s Ichijo-dori avenue in the late 1100s. The Hyakki Yako (also spelled “Yagyo”) inspired countless generations of Japanese artists, including Toriyama Sekien, who penned an influential series of yokai guides in the 1770s; woodblock artists of the 1800s; and manga masters such as Mizuki Shigeru in the 20th century. (Boing Boing)




Yokai are amongst the strangest of the the world’s cultural spirit imaginings and this scroll gives a fair insight into their über-strangeness. It naturally has its share of “tsukumo-gami,” or “artifact-spirits”. These are bizarre creatures formed out of household objects, imbued with a sentience that would definitely be unsettling in real life. The most famous is perhaps the “Umbrella Monster” that featured in The Hundred Monsters, here re-created as a fiberglass sculpture by Colin Christian.


Here are some that appear on the scroll:




Those interested in seeing the yokai in action on film couldn’t do better than viewing the famous Showa era trilogy Yokai daisenso [aka Big Ghost War; Spook Warfare] (Japan-1968; dir. Yoshiyuki Kuroda); Yokai Hyaku Monogatari [aka The Hundred Monsters] (Japan-1968; dir. Kimiyoshi Yasuda), and Tôkaidô obake dôchû [aka Along With Ghosts] (Japan-1969; dir. Yoshiyuki Kuroda) — or Takashi Miike’s more recent Yokai daisenso [aka The Great Yokai War] (Japan-2005; dir. Takashi Miike).

If you have a spare $15,000 or so, you could go and bid on the wonderful scroll (just followed the link below). Otherwise, here is a gallery of the images kindly placed on eBay by the seller.


This entry was posted in Ghosts, Japanese, Monsters in general, Pictorial art. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Yokai Scroll Discovered

  1. Robin Pen says:

    So soooo cool!

  2. Pingback: Jellyfish Eyes: The New Yôkai? | Undead Backbrain

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