Tag: ‘Monster’

Kaiju anatomical drawings

23 Oct 2008

Flickr user modern_fred's Japanese movie monster scan collection includes a few vintage illustrations detailing the innards of Godzilla and other famous kaiju.

Anatomy of Godzilla --

This anatomical sketch of Godzilla reveals a relatively small brain, giant lungs that allow underwater breathing, leg muscles that can support 20,000 tons of body weight, and a "uranium sack" and "nuclear reaction sack" that produce radioactive fire-breath and energize the body.

* * * * *

Anatomy of Jiger --
Jiger reveals her inner self

According to this anatomical drawing, Jiger has a pair of horns that can shoot missiles made of hardened saliva and one that fires a deadly magnetium (?) beam.

Anatomy of Jiger --
Jiger (uploaded by Paulkaiju)

Other characteristics include extremely powerful suction cups covering the entire body, an organ that enables Jiger to spit jets of seawater at 300 kilometers per hour, a stomach that can melt iron ore, and a tail that functions as an ovipositor.

* * * * *

Anatomy of Mothra larva --
Mothra larva

This anatomical sketch of Mothra in larval form shows a robust jaw, an enormous stomach, an elongated silk-producing organ, a row of breathing orifices on either side of the body, countless cilia on the bottom surface, and a rudimentary nervous system consisting of a cerebral ganglion and a network of nerve ganglia distributed across the body.

* * * * *

Anatomy of Guiron --
Guiron -- a peek inside the belly of the beast

* * * * *

Anatomy of Anguirus --

This anatomical diagram of Anguirus shows eyes that can detect infrared light, a pair of sub-brains that control the forelegs and rear legs, highly developed rear leg muscles, and a heavily spiked rear carapace.

* * * * *

This illustration of "Flaming Monster Gamera" (from An Anatomical Guide to Monsters) reveals eyes that can see in the dark, arms strong enough to lift and throw a 50-ton boat, and "fire sacks" that let Gamera shoot flames from his hands.

Anatomy of Gamera --

The illustration also shows a series of sack-like organs for storing lava, oil, coal and uranium (like Godzilla), as well as balloon-like organs in the legs that can blast air through the bottoms of the feet.

[Link: modern_fred's kaiju eiga photoset]

Related: Kaiju art collection

Monsters in mid-1870s news prints

15 Oct 2008

For a brief period in the mid-1870s, artistic woodblock prints known as "newspaper nishiki-e" were a popular form of mass entertainment in Japan. These colorful prints fed the public's enormous appetite for sensationalism by retelling shocking stories culled from the major newspapers of the day. The Meiji government swiftly cracked down on the publishers of these "unofficial" sources of information, causing them to disappear as quickly as they had appeared, but not before hundreds of issues had been published and circulated around Japan. While newspaper nishiki-e most often retold stories of scandalous or heinous crimes, they occasionally presented accounts of monsters, ghosts and mysterious happenings, such as the ones included here.

Monster in nishikie news paper --
Osaka Nichinichi Shinbunshi, No. 13 (ca. 1875)

This print shows a lecherous monster said to have haunted the home of a master carpenter in the Kanda area of Tokyo. The apparition habitually showed up late at night to perform unspeakable acts on his sleeping wife, until the family enlisted the help of prayer-chanting priests to cleanse their home. In the Meiji era, recurring nightmares about this sort of monster were apparently quite common.

* * * * *

Monster in nishikie news paper --
Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun, No. 445 (1874)

In the early morning hours of August 4, 1873, a man named Umemura Toyotaro was awakened by an earthquake. As he struggled to get back to sleep, his child, who lay nearby, suddenly burst out crying hysterically. The man looked up to find a strange, three-eyed monk standing over them. He watched in disbelief as the mysterious monk grew taller and taller, until his head reached the ceiling. Unrattled, the man grabbed the monk's sleeve and pulled him to the ground. The monk turned out to be an old shape-shifting tanuki.

* * * * *

Monster in nishikie news paper --
Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun, No. 697 (May 25, 1874)

This print depicts a giant alligator inhabiting the Koga inlet of eastern Mie prefecture. The feared sea monster, which was described as being covered in seaweed and oysters, was known to attack ships and devour anyone thrown overboard. One day a ship in the area caught fire. As the crew abandoned the burning vessel, the creature ate them all.

* * * * *

Monster in nishikie news paper --
Osaka Nishiki-e Nichinichi Shinbunshi, No. 26 (ca. 1875)

This print shows the ghost of a disgruntled candy store owner who grew ill and died after falling deep in debt to his neighbor, the owner of a successful tempura restaurant. The ghost has returned to settle the score.

* * * * *

Monster in nishikie news paper --
Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun, No. 851 (1874)

In 1874, the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy embarked on the Taiwan Expedition of 1874, their first ever overseas deployment. This print depicts the restless spirit of a young Japanese soldier named Saito who died from illness during the mission. Saito's ghost returned home for several days to haunt his brother-in-law, who had grown very depressed after learning of Saito's fate.

* * * * *

Monster in nishikie news paper --
Yubin Hochi Shinbun, No. 527 (1875)

This print shows the restless ghost of a woman whose husband neglected her so much that she fell ill and died. Upset at the way he was raising their young child, she returned from the spirit world to complain in his ear while he slept. The baby woke up and began to cry, so she cradled it in her arms and began to nurse it. When the man awoke and screamed at the sight of his undead wife, she vanished.

* * * * *

Monster in nishikie news paper --
Osaka Nichinichi Shinbun, No. 8 (ca. 1875)

Despite appearances, this monster means no harm. The helpful creature is attempting to reform a failed Hyogo-area politician named Nakayama, who neglected his responsibilities after falling victim to a widow's charms.

* * * * *

Monster in nishikie news paper --
Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun, No. 917

When a man stepped outside onto his veranda to check on his crying child, he was alarmed to find a gigantic eagle sitting in a cedar tree overhead. The creature, which stood taller than a grown man, was staring hungrily down at the child. In a panic, the man grabbed his gun and shot the menacing bird from its perch. The enormous size of the carcass astounded him.

* * * * *

Monster in nishikie news paper --
Nichinichi Shinbun (ca. 1875)

This print shows a policeman capturing a tanuki, a mythical trickster animal known for its ability to outwit humans. This nishiki-e can be viewed as a reflection of the identity struggle that Japan was experiencing at the time, with the tanuki symbolizing Japan's traditional past and the policeman symbolizing the "enlightened" modern society that rapidly emerged after the Meiji Restoration of 1868.

[Some scans via: Waseda University Library // Further reading: News nishikie]

- 19th-century ghost scrolls
- Edo-period monster paintings by Sawaki Suushi

Ooishi Hyoroku Monogatari picture scroll

26 Aug 2008

The Ooishi Hyoroku Monogatari, a largely fictional story featured in picture scrolls in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, tells of a young warrior and his encounters with trickster foxes posing as yokai. According to the National Museum of Japanese History, the story takes place in 1624 in Kagoshima, where a group of notorious young warriors have assembled. When a rumor circulates about shape-shifting foxes that have hoodwinked some people in the area and shaved their heads, the men decide to test the courage of one of the young warriors, Ooishi Hyoroku, by sending him on a mission to capture the mischievous creatures.

When the foxes hear about this mission, they transform into eight different yokai to frighten the young warrior:

Oishi Hyoroku Monogatari --

Oishi Hyoroku Monogatari --

Oishi Hyoroku Monogatari --
Mitsume Koen

Oishi Hyoroku Monogatari --

Oishi Hyoroku Monogatari --
Hobeni Taro

Oishi Hyoroku Monogatari --

Oishi Hyoroku Monogatari --

Oishi Hyoroku Monogatari --

Hyoroku flees in fear each time he encounters one of the monsters. After he finally catches a pair of foxes, his father suddenly appears and urges him to let them go. Hyoroku then finds that his "father" is actually a fox in disguise -- but only after he is tricked into eating sweet dumplings made of horse droppings.

Later, the foxes appear as Buddhist monks and trick him into shaving his head. In the end, though, Hyoroku successfully captures two more foxes, and his comrades honor his achievement by making him breakfast.

Several versions of the Ooishi Hyoroku Monogatari scroll remain in existence today. A scan of an entire scroll, dated 1801 (author/illustrator unknown), is viewable online at Waseda University Library. (An undivided version of this scroll is also available here. -Thanks, Darren!)

19th-century ghost scrolls

01 Aug 2008

Every August, as Japanese spirits return en masse from the otherworld, Tokyo's Zenshoan temple (map) exhibits a spine-chilling collection of 19th-century ghost scroll paintings. Here are a few. (Click the "+" under each image to enlarge.)

Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple -- Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple --
Ghost [+] // Sea Monster [+]

"Ghost" by Iijima Koga is a portrait of a floating, kimono-clad female apparition with all the ghastly physical features you hope to find in an undead spirit -- bony hands, a head of stringy hair, and a pained grimace revealing a mouth full of black teeth. "Sea Monster" by Utagawa Hoen depicts an umi-bozu lurking near a boat anchored at shore, with the moon located precisely where the monster's mouth should be.

* * * * *

Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple --
The Ghost of a Blind Female Street Singer [+]

Utagawa Hiroshige's "Ghost of a Blind Female Street Singer" portrays the restless spirit of a street performer, one white unseeing eye wide open, carrying a shamisen as she drifts above the surface of a river on the way to her next performance.

* * * * *

Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple -- Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple --
Kohada Koheiji [+] // Willow and the Moon [+]

Utagawa Kunitoshi's "Kohada Koheiji" shows the main character of a famous Edo-period novel (published 1803) by Santo Kyoden. In the story, after Koheiji is killed by his wife and her lover, his gangly ghost returns to haunt them by peering through the mosquito netting surrounding their bed. (This character is also the subject of ukiyo-e artist Hokusai's famous print "The Ghost of Kohada Koheiji.") "Willow and the Moon" by Koson might at first glance appear as nothing more than a peaceful moonlit scene at the water's edge, but look again -- the moon and clouds form a menacing face in the sky, and the bare willow branches form a scraggly head of hair.

* * * * *

Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple --
Kaidan Chibusa Enoki: The Ghostly Tale of the Wet Nurse Tree [+]

This painting by Ito Seiu, the godfather of Japanese bondage (kinbaku), depicts a scene from Kaidan Chibusa Enoki, an old horror story in which the ghost of a dead painter returns to protect his baby from his murderer, a wandering samurai who fell in love with his wife while he was away painting. This scroll shows the ghost holding the baby while standing under a waterfall at Juniso (where Tokyo's Shinjuku Chuo Park is now located).

* * * * *

Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple -- Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple --
Ghost [+] // Ghost of the Wharf [+]

The subject of "Ghost" by Rinrin is a spirit with an eerie blank stare and gaunt ribs visible under its clothing, and who appears to be melting away. Shibata Zeshin's "Ghost of the Wharf" depicts a feeble-looking apparition relaxing on a pier, casually glancing at something over its shoulder.

* * * * *

Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple -- Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple --
Ghost in the Rain [+] // Ghosts of Husband and Wife [+]

Ikeda Ayaoka's "Ghost in the Rain" shows a forlorn-looking female apparition outside in a storm, with flames rising up from where her feet should be. "Ghosts of Husband and Wife" by Otai is a portrait of what appears to be an undead married couple -- a subject rarely seen in ghost scroll paintings. The sinister pair are pictured clutching a human skull. The husband is wearing a traditional Buddhist funerary headdress worn by the dead, and he has blood smeared on his face.

* * * * *

Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple -- Ghost scroll at Zenshoan temple --
Ghost with a Severed Head [+] // Ghost [+]

Kawakami Togai's "Ghost with a Severed Head" shows a female apparition lovingly cradling a man's decapitated head. The subject of "Ghost" by Gyoshin is a pathetic, emaciated figure with thinning hair and blackened teeth. There seems to be a hint of humor in his expression.

* * * * *

These and dozens more hanging scroll paintings of ghosts are on display throughout the month of August at Zenshoan temple, located near Nippori station in Tokyo (map).

[Images from Yureiga-shu: Zenshoan/Sanyutei Encho Collection, published by Zenshoan, 2000]

Monster octopi with scores of extra tentacles

18 Jul 2008

96-armed octopus --

In nature, it is quite rare to encounter octopi with extra tentacles (or "arms," for the purists), but a pair of aquariums in Japan's Mie prefecture have some extraordinary specimens on hand.

The permanent display at the Shima Marineland Aquarium in the town of Shima includes a 96-tentacled Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris) that weighed 3.3 kilograms (about 7 lbs) and measured 90 centimeters (3 ft) long when it was captured in nearby Matoya Bay in December 1998. Before dying 5 months later, the creature laid eggs, making it the first known extra-tentacled octopus to do so in captivity. All the baby octopi hatched with the normal number of tentacles, but unfortunately they only survived a month.

96-armed octopus --
96-tentacled octopus laying eggs

The preserved octopus actually has the normal number of 8 appendages attached to its body, but each one branches out to form the multitude of extra tentacles. Apparently there is no theory that fully explains the surplus tentacles, but they are believed to be the result of abnormal regeneration that occurred after the octopus suffered some sort of injury.

* * * * *

The Toba Aquarium in the nearby town of Toba also has a few extraordinary octopus specimens, although they no longer appear to be on permanent display. Every now and then, though, the aquarium pulls them out of storage for the world to see.

85-armed octopus --
85-tentacled octopus at Toba Aquarium

Their most well-known specimen is an 85-tentacled Common Octopus captured in 1957 at nearby Toshijima island. This remarkable creature -- which, like the Shima Marineland octopus, has 8 main arms that branch out to form scores of tentacles -- made quite a stir when it first went on display at Toba Aquarium a half-century ago. A few years later, the specimen was loaned to the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, where it famously caught the attention of the Showa Emperor.

The renowned creature eventually returned to Toba and went on permanent display until the aquarium moved to a new location in 1985, at which time it was placed in storage. Twenty years later, in 2005, the specimen entered the spotlight again when it was put on temporary display.

In the 50 years since the 85-tentacled octopus was captured, the Toba Aquarium has exhibited 6 other mutant octopi, most of them alive for a time, and each with between 9 and 56 tentacles.

[Related: Photo: Nine-tentacled octopus]

Kaiju art collection

25 Jun 2008

Kaiju collector/photographer Red Yoda adds a touch of colorful madness to an awesome collection of Japanese vinyl monster figures. Browse the entire photoset for more.

Red Yoda's kaiju art collection --

Red Yoda's kaiju art collection --
[Mothra Larva go for a swim]

Red Yoda's kaiju art collection --

Red Yoda's kaiju art collection --
[Salary Ika!]

Red Yoda's kaiju art collection --
[Daimajin is angry!]

Red Yoda's kaiju art collection --
[Bloody. Evil. Varan]

Seven mysterious creatures of Japan

27 May 2008

Bigfoot. The Loch Ness Monster. The Abominable Snowman. Tales of unidentified mysterious animals have long intrigued and captured the imagination of people around the world -- and Japan is no exception. Here is a brief introduction to 7 of the island nation's most notorious cryptids, complete with grainy photographs where available. Whether you regard these tales as fact or fiction, their impact on the culture where they were encountered is undeniable.

* * * * *

- Hibagon

Hibagon --

The Hibagon (a.k.a. Hinagon) is a cryptic hominid, similar to Bigfoot, inhabiting the area around Mt. Hiba in northern Hiroshima prefecture. According to numerous eyewitness accounts from the early 1970s, the Hibagon stands about 1.5 to 1.7 meters (about 5 ft) tall, weighs an estimated 80 to 90 kilograms (about 180 lbs), is covered in a thick coat of black or brown fur (sometimes it is reported as having a spot of white fur on its chest or arms), and has an unusually large triangular head and intelligent human-like eyes. The Hibagon received its name from the local animal control board.

Hibagon -- The first known Hibagon sighting occurred on July 20, 1970 in the area around Mt. Hiba near the border with Tottori prefecture. Three days after the initial sighting, the furry ape-like creature was seen again walking through a rice paddy in the nearby rural town of Saijo. A total of 12 sightings were reported that year, and mysterious footprints were found in the snow that December.

Numerous Hibagon sightings were reported in areas surrounding Mt. Hiba in the summers between 1971 and 1973, as increased human activity during the hunting season forced the creature down from the mountain. On August 15, 1974, the Hibagon was photographed as it hid behind a persimmon tree. Unusual footprints measuring 20 centimeters (9 in) long were found nearby. After this photo was taken, the Hibagon went back into hiding, only to be seen two more times -- once in 1980 and again in 1982 -- before disappearing forever.

Hibagon --

The Hibagon may have disappeared long ago, but the residents of Saijo have not forgotten. The town has adopted the likeness of the creature as its mascot, and souvenir shops sell Hibagon Eggs and other cryptid ape-themed sweets. [More]

* * * * *

- Tsuchinoko

Tsuchinoko --
Tsuchinoko -- Reality? Myth? Or mistaken identity?

The Tsuchinoko is a snake-like cryptid found throughout Japan, except in Hokkaido and the Okinawan islands. Reports describe the Tsuchinoko as having a thick, stubby body measuring 30 to 80 centimeters (12 to 30 in) in length, often with a distinct neck, gray, brown or black scaly skin, and venomous fangs. Some accounts suggest the Tsuchinoko has a loud, high-pitched squeak and can jump as far as one meter.

Tsuchinoko --

The earliest known written record of the Tsuchinoko dates back to the 7th century, where it appears in the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), the oldest surviving book in Japan. In some legends, the Tsuchinoko can speak, has a tendency to tell lies, and enjoys the taste of alcohol.

Tsuchinoko --

Skeptics dismiss Tsuchinoko sightings as simple cases of mistaken identity, suggesting the creatures are nothing more than snakes in the process of digesting large meals, or perhaps even escaped exotic pets such as the blue-tongued lizard.

Tsuchinoko --

Regardless, local tourist boards in rural areas frequently organize Tsuchinoko hunts to attract visitors, promising large sums of money to any participant lucky enough to capture one. The town of Itoigawa in Niigata prefecture, for example, has a hunt scheduled for June 8, 2008 and is offering a 100 million yen (about $1 million) reward to whoever brings one back alive. [More]

* * * * *

- Kusshii

Kusshii --

Kusshii is a giant lake monster believed to inhabit Hokkaido's Lake Kussharo, a large freshwater lake located in an environment and climate similar to that of the famed Loch Ness. According to eyewitness accounts, Kusshi is 10 to 20 meters (30 to 60 ft) long and has humps on its back, a long neck and a pair of horns on its head. Reports suggest it can swim as fast as a motorboat. Kusshii's most famous appearances include a 1973 sighting by 40-member team of biologists from Hokkaido University, as well as 15 separate reports by tourists in 1974.

* * * * *

- Isshii

Isshii --

Isshii, another Japanese cryptid lake monster, is believed to inhabit Kagoshima prefecture's 20,000-year-old Lake Ikeda, the largest caldera lake in Kyushu. The creature is similar in appearance to Kusshii, but larger.

Isshii entered the public consciousness in September 1978, after more than 20 people reportedly witnessed a giant creature moving at a blistering speed through the water. Widespread news coverage of the sighting brought a flood of tourists to the lake, and in December of the same year, a photograph was taken showing what some believe is the back of the creature poking through the water surface. Since 1990, a number of home videos have emerged showing mysterious activity just under the water surface, but none of the videos are widely seen as irrefutable proof of Isshii's existence.

Some theories suggest Isshii could be an unidentified descendant of the Plesiosaur, while others believe it to be some sort of giant eel. Other theories suggest the sightings can be explained as rogue waves generated by winds unique to the lake.

Rogue waves cannot, however, explain what happened in 1961, when a large-scale search was conducted for a US military jet believed to have crashed in the lake. Sonar equipment used in the search reportedly revealed a large rock-shaped object moving through the water below, and records indicate that divers on the lake floor were nearly attacked by a large, unidentified creature.

* * * * *

- Giant Snake of Mt. Tsurugi

Mt. Tsurugi, the second highest peak on the island of Shikoku, is steeped in mystery. According to one local legend, the mountain is actually a giant man-made pyramid, and another legend says that a hoard of King Solomon's secret treasure lies buried within. A giant snake believed to be guarding that treasure has been sighted on many occasions.

Giant snake of Mt. Tsurugi -- In May 1973, a group of 4 forestry workers reportedly encountered a 10 meter (33 ft) long snake as big around as a telephone pole. The creature was described as having shiny black scales, and it reportedly made a loud chirping sound. In the months that followed, local officials organized a large-scale hunt for the snake, enlisting the help of hundreds of volunteers. While the creature was not apprehended, the searchers did find what appeared to be giant snake tracks that measured 40 centimeters (16 in) wide and passed alongside fallen trees.

A local history museum has in its collection a large jawbone measuring 34 centimeters (13 in) across, which many believe belongs to the giant snake. Others speculate it belongs to a shark.

* * * * *

- Takitaro

Takitarou --

The Takitaro is a type of giant fish measuring up to 3 meters (10 ft) long, which is found in Yamagata prefecture's Lake Otoriike. Located nearly 1,000 meters above sea level, the remote mountain lake was created ages ago when an earthquake triggered a massive landslide that dammed up a mountain stream.

The Takitaro appears in a number of stories throughout the 20th-century. In 1917, for example, a pair of men are said to have captured a 1.5 meter (5 ft) long fish that was large enough to feed 20 floodgate construction workers for 4 days. In 1982, a group of mountain climbers above the lake observed a fish over 2 meters (6.5 ft) long in the clear water below. This sighting grabbed headlines nationwide.

Three years later, in 1985, a team of scientists went to the lake in search of the Takitaro. Sonar equipment revealed the presence of giant fish, and the scientists identified some smaller specimens as relatives of ancient salmon that likely became trapped in the lake when it was formed long ago. The true identity of the giant Takitaro, however, remains a mystery, but some believe it is a mutant descendant of these ancient fish.

* * * * *

- Kappa

Kappa (river imps) have appeared in countless stories and folk legends for centuries, and they rank among Japan's most well-known cryptids. While most people nowadays regard the amphibious child-sized troublemakers as pure myth, stories of kappa encounters still crop up from time to time, such as the following two reports from Japan's southern island of Kyushu.

Kappa -- Kappa -- Kappa --

Report 1 -- Slimy Footprints at the River's Edge: At around 11 PM on August 1, 1984 in the town of Tsushima in Nagasaki prefecture, a squid fisherman named Ryu Shirozaki was walking home from the local pier after work. As he passed near the Kuta river, he came upon a small group of children playing at the water's edge. While it was not entirely uncommon to encounter people fishing in the river at night, it was rather surprising to see youngsters there.

As Shirozaki approached the children, he was struck by how bizarre they appeared in the moonlight. He could make out swarthy faces, unusually spindly arms and legs, and glistening skin. Suspicious, Shirozaki called out to them as he neared, but they seemed startled and quickly disappeared into the water.

The next morning when he returned to the same spot, Shirozaki discovered a set of moist, teardrop-shaped footprints on the nearby pavement. The prints, which appeared to consist of a slimy substance that had begun to coagulate under the hot morning sun, stretched for about 20 meters. Each footprint measured 22 centimeters (about 10 in) long and 12 centimeters (5 in) wide, and they were spaced about 50 to 60 centimeters (about 2 ft) apart.

Shirozaki and a few curious onlookers immediately suspected the footprints belonged to a kappa. People began to gather around as the news spread quickly through town, and all agreed the prints belonged to a kappa. In the minds of many residents, the footprints confirmed the existence of the river imps they knew through local legends.

When police forensic investigators arrived on the scene, they determined that the slimy footprints consisted of an unknown secretion. They took a sample to the lab for analysis, but the results unfortunately turned out to be inconclusive because the sample was too small. The police eventually dropped their investigation, and the mystery of the slimy footprints was never solved.

Report 2 -- The Unclean Guest: Another recent kappa encounter occurred on June 30, 1991 in the town of Saito in Miyazaki prefecture, when an office worker named Mitsugu Matsumoto and his wife Junko returned home for the evening. Upon opening the front door, the Matsumotos were confronted with a strange smell inside their home. Inside, they found dozens of small, wet footprints around the front door and in the hallway, bathroom, and two tatami rooms. At first they suspected a burglar, but they soon realized nothing had been stolen.

The police briefly surveyed the house, but found nothing except a floor soiled by 30 footprints, each measuring about 7 centimeters long and 6 centimeters wide, and having 4 or 5 toes. To Matsumoto, the footprints did not look human, nor did they appear to belong to any animal he could imagine.

Later that night, as Mrs. Matsumoto was putting laundry away, she discovered an unusual orange stain on some clothing. The next morning, as Matsumoto inspected the house more closely, he discovered a deposit of orange liquid on the portable stereo in the tatami room. He took a sample to the local public health center for analysis, and the results indicated the liquid had an extremely high iron content and a chemical composition resembling spring water.

Troubled by the incident, Matsumoto decided to visit a shaman. After listening to Matsumoto's story, the shaman encouraged him not to worry, explaining that the kappa indigenous to the nearby swamp enjoyed playing the occasional prank on local residents. The kappa were harmless, the shaman told him.

Harmless, perhaps, but Matsumoto found the kappa difficult to clean up after. He tried using detergent, paint thinner and gasoline to remove the footprints and orange stains, but nothing seemed to work.

[Note: This post includes information from Shin-ichiro Namiki's Nippon No Kaiki Hyaku, 2007 (published in Japanese)]

Mona Lisa mutants & alien art by Naoto Hattori

16 Apr 2008

Surreal artist Naoto Hattori's huge monster painting collection includes a smattering of Mona Lisa mutants. Visit his gallery for more madness.

Maternity, by Naoto Hattori -- Bombing, by Naoto Hattori  --
Maternity, Bombing

Fabrication, by Naoto Hattori -- Watcher, by Naoto Hattori  --
Fabrication, Watcher

[Link: Naoto Hattori]

Video: Mononoke Dance

14 Apr 2008

Mononoke Dance --

Denki Groove's video for "Mononoke Dance" is yet another masterpiece by manga artist Masakazu Amahisa. Using stick-puppet animation, the video tells the story of a couple who crash their car on a dark forest road and encounter a Konaki-jiji (monster baby with the face of an old man) that leads them deep into the woods to a wild party for yokai, or traditional Japanese monsters. (Watch it.)

Guests at the party include Hitodama (fireballs), Kyonshi (Chinese vampire), Onyudo (shapeshifting monk), Jizo (guardian deity of children), Noppera-bo (faceless ghost), Rokurokubi (long-necked monster), Kappa (water imp), Hoichi the Earless, someone who dances like Yoshio Kojima, and many others.

Incidentally, the song "Mononoke Dance" is used as the opening theme for the "Hakaba Kitaro" anime series now airing on Fuji TV (the video here is completely unrelated to the TV show).