You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2009.
Had an interview with Kate Pearcy from The Book Show on ABC Radio National while I was in Sydney for the show ‘Love, Thieves and Fear make ghosts’. Kate did an amazing job putting it all together…. you can hear it here for a limited time.
The above image is a detail from the original which is almost two metres long.
Chibi Obake (ちびおばけ）
Chibi (ちび, can also be written 禿び ) is a Japanese word meaning “short person” or “small child.” The word has gained currency amongst fans of manga and anime. Its meaningis of someone or some animal that is small. It can be translated as “little,” but is not used the same way as chiisana (tiny, small, little in Japanese). A prototypical example of the former usage in the original Japanese which brought the term to the attention of Western fans is Chibiusa, a pet name for the diminutive daughter of Sailor Moon formed from Chibi Usagi (“Little Usagi”).
In English-speaking anime fandom (otaku), the term chibi has mostly been conflated with the term super deformed or it can be used to describe child versions of characters.
The final two installments of my ghost tales are being posted here, final day of the show at The Japan Foundation Gallery in Sydney is tomorrow. Listen to ABC Radio National tomorrow (July 3rd) for an interview with me about the show.
Harionago (Japanese: 針女子)
Also known as Harionna (Japanese: 針女), is a frightening female ghoul in Japanese mythology. Her name literally meaning “Barbed woman,” the Harionago is said to be a beautiful woman with extremely long hair tipped with thorn-like barbs. Her hair is under her direct control, and she uses it to ensare men. She is said to wander the roads of the Japanese prefecture of Ehime on the island of Shikoku, searching for victims.
When she finds a young man, she will laugh at him, and if the young man dares to laugh back, Harionago will drop her terrible, barbed hair and attack. A youth once escaped from this monster by closing the door to his house on her; her hooked hair left uncountable gashes in the wood. Fortunately for
him the door was not of the paper sliding variety.
The fox (Kitsune), as with the Tanuki (racoon-dog) is a popular character in Japanese folklore and is often seen as a trickster, able to transform itself into human form, most often as young and beautiful women, and any children they bear will often have supernatural powers.
The tale of “Kuzunoha” tells the story of a young nobleman, Abe no Yasuna, who, on his way to visit a shrine in Shinoda, encounters a young military commissioner who is hunting foxes to obtain their livers for use as medicine. Yasuna battles the hunter and sets free the white fox he had trapped. Following this he meets a beautiful young women who tends to the wounds he sustained in the battle.
They return home together, fall in love and eventually marry. Later, she bears a child (a boy they call Seimei who grows up to be very clever). One day while Kuzunoha is distracted viewing the chrysanthemums in the garden her son catches a sight of the tip of her tail from beneath her kimono. Her secret is revealed, Kuzunoha departs to again live her life in the wild, leaving a farewell poem
which asks that her husband and son come to see her in the Shinoda Forest. Husband and son search for Kuzunoha and she appears to them in fox form, she tells them she is a kami (deific spirit) of Shinoda Shrine and she gives her son Seimei a gift, hoping he will one day come to comprehend the language of beasts.
Will be posting a couple more images, this time of my ‘Chibi Obake’ in the coming days!
Thanks for reading and make sure to add any ghost stories to the comments section.
Bakeneko or Neko mata (化け猫, “monster cat”, 猫又)
The bakeneko/nekomata is in Japanese folklore, a cat with supernatural abilities akin to those of the fox or raccoon dog. A cat may become a bakeneko in a number of ways: it may reach a certain age, be kept for a certain number of years, grow to a certain size, or be allowed to keep a long tail. In the last case, the tail forks in two and the bakeneko is then called a nekomata (猫又, ,猫叉, or 猫股 “forked cat”). This superstition may have some connection to the breeding of the Japanese Bobtail.
A bakeneko will haunt any household it is kept in, creating ghostly fireballs, menacing sleepers, walking on its hind legs, changing its shape into that of a human, and even devouring its own mistress in order to shapeshift and take her place. When it is finally killed, its body may be as much as five feet in length. It also poses a danger if allowed into a room with a fresh corpse; a cat is believed to be capable of reanimating a body by jumping over it.
In Japanese folklore, any cat that lives over thirteen years old, reaches one kan (eight pounds) in weight or is allowed to keep a long tail can become a bake-neko ( 化け猫 ) or Ghost Cat (Addis 2001). A bake-neko is a cat that gains paranormal powers after certain circumstances. They also have the ability to eat (bigger or smaller) anything in its way, no matter what it is. Poison is its main food, for example, a certain type of snake (unknown to man). It is rare to see people with a ‘bake-neko’ though some people have been known to see it. The breeding of the Japanese Bobtail may have some connection with this superstition. After a bake-neko tail grows long enough it forks into two tails, then the bake-neko is no longer called a bake-neko, but a neko-mata. Other forms of bake-neko are Maneki-neko (Addis 2001). Most of the stories about the bake-neko are told orally in Japan.