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Pandemonium and Parade

Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai

Michael Dylan Foster
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Pandemonium and Parade
    Book Description:

    Water sprites, mountain goblins, shape-shifting animals, and the monsters known asyôkaihave long haunted the Japanese cultural landscape. This history of the strange and mysterious in Japan seeks out these creatures in folklore, encyclopedias, literature, art, science, games, manga, magazines, and movies, exploring their meanings in the Japanese cultural imagination and offering an abundance of valuable and, until now, understudied material. Michael Dylan Foster tracksyôkaiover three centuries, from their appearance in seventeenth-century natural histories to their starring role in twentieth-century popular media. Focusing on the intertwining of belief and commodification, fear and pleasure, horror and humor, he illuminates different conceptions of the "natural" and the "ordinary" and sheds light on broader social and historical paradigms-and ultimately on the construction of Japan as a nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94267-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Note on Japanese Names and Terms
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Introduction to the Weird
    (pp. 1-29)

    The bones were found in May 2000, in the small town of Yoshii in Okayama Prefecture. News of the discovery, according to one weekly magazine, “set off tremors throughout Japan.” The skeleton was taken to a university to determine whether it really belonged to atsuchinoko,a legendary reptilelike creature the existence of which had never been scientifically confirmed. After thoroughly examining the specimen, a professor of biology declared that the remains were not those of a tsuchinoko but rather of a malformed grass snake. This disappointing news did not dampen spirits in Yoshii. In fact, stimulated by the near-discovery,...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Natural History of the Weird: Encyclopedias, Spooky Stories, and the Bestiaries of Toriyama Sekien
    (pp. 30-76)

    In the darkness, something is watching. You hear breathing, feel something brush against your arm. Yōkai are a presence characterized by absence; the quest for yōkai is driven by a desire to make concrete this abstract, absent presence, to make visible this invisibility. But how is this done? How is discourse constructed around something shaped by its own elusiveness? One way people have strived to concretize yōkai is by labeling and categorizing them. If you browse the shelves of any large bookstore or library in Japan, you can find compendia of yōkai, lists of their habitats and proclivities, illustrated catalogs...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Science of the Weird: Inoue Enryō, Kokkuri, and Human Electricity
    (pp. 77-114)

    On January 1, 1873, Japan officially changed from a lunar to a solar calendar and adopted a twenty-four-hour clock. This was a critical moment in the archipelago’s transformation into a modern nation-state synchronized with much of the rest of the world. Implemented politically from above and reflecting the ideological stance of the new Meiji regime, this new way of understanding time signified (and caused) complex changes in everyday lives. Heterogeneous local temporalities, the cyclical rhythms of lunar time, and the relationship of holidays with specific seasons were superceded by the dictates of a mechanical instrument. As historian Stefan Tanaka explains,...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Museum of the Weird: Modernity, Minzokugaku, and the Discovery of Yōkai
    (pp. 115-159)

    In the waning years of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, Japan’s modernization altered the metaphoric as well as the physical landscape. One quintessential feature of both of these new landscapes was the train. With thousands of miles of track laid down throughout the country, not only did the steam train transform the countenance of the land itself, but it was also part of a broader “transformation of perception.”¹ The land became a series of vistas moving across the still screen of the train window, a picture scroll unfurling through time and space. And time and space...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Media of the Weird: Mizuki Shigeru and Kuchi-sake-onna
    (pp. 160-203)

    Less than a decade after its devastation by American firebombing, Tokyo was destroyed again: this time by the rampages of a gigantic fire-breathing lizard known as Gojira, in the eponymous 1954 film. A deep-seamonster awakened from its slumbers by atomic weapons testing, Gojira (or Godzilla as the creature would be called in its American incarnation two years later) provided a powerful metaphor for the terrors unleashed by the nuclear age and the unforeseeable forces—political, environmental, technological—that would influence everyday lives in the decades after the war. In the darkness of the movie house, the gargantuan creature is drawn...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Yōkai Culture: Past, Present, Future
    (pp. 204-216)

    By exploring discourses and practices surrounding the weird and mysterious, the preceding chapters trace how interpretations of yōkai reflect changes in broader cultural paradigms. For the early to mid-Tokugawa period, natural history provides a lens through which we can understand not only encyclopedic texts that include strange creatures in their purview but also the playful bestiaries devoted exclusively to portraying such creatures. The Meiji period can be perceived through the optic of science, as rational thinking was deployed both to debunk yōkai phenomena and to inspire a new sense of enchantment. For the early twentieth century, the museum provides the...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 217-258)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-276)
  14. Index
    (pp. 277-291)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 292-292)