The Sunday, May 24 issue of the New York Times included an article by Robert Ito surveying several new and upcoming publications devoted to a variety of beings that populate Japanese “folklore” and superstition including the spirits of deceased humans the “Yurei,” the water demon called the “Kappa,” shapeshifters called “tanuki” and a host of others that for the purpose of Westerners are grouped under the term “Yokai.”
On one hand, these beings are of general interest as their imagery makes up much of the vocabulary of popular Japanese art including the monsters populating video games and horror and fantasy films, and — after a cute-ifying some makeover — Pokemon, toys,beer advertisements etc.
On the other hand, a number of these beings bear a striking similarity to Western Goetic spirits both visually and temperamentally. The Tanuki, for instance are described as a “rascally, impetuous bunch.” So this could be a fertile field of study in comparative demonology for those thus inclined. Or at least a way to impress your manga-loving 12 year old niece!