From 11AM to 5:30PM On Sunday July 13th, Southbank Centre will be host to a well known Japanese festival: Tanabata. Before I tell you a bit about what to expect at the festival, here is the story of Tanabata: Near the river Amanogawa lived the King of the Skies. He had one daughter, Orihime. She … More Tanabata Festival
I might still be feeling the weight of Christmas dinner, but it has undeniably come and gone. It’s now time to look forward to the new year and start making those all important new year resolutions. In Japan this is also a period where many people will hold what we call a 忘年会 (bounenkai), end … More You better watch out, you better watch out…namahage is coming to town!
There is another shape-shifter amongst the youkai: kitsune (or fox). Kitsune live a long life, have magical powers, and like the tanuki, the kitsune can take on human form. Most of the time, it will turn itself into a beautiful woman to taunt men, but on occasions can also transform into an older man or … More 狐 (きつね)
If you have ever watched One Piece, you may recall one if its characters, Chopper, often being mistaken for a tanuki. Now unlike the other youkai I have been describing, the tanuki actually does exist (that is not to say that the others don’t… because they may!). In real life, tanuki are a sort of … More 狸 (たぬき)
Zashiki warashi is one of the sweeter, less malicious youkai. Often portrayed as a small ghost child (usually a girl), the zashiki warashi brings good fortune to those that inhabit the home they haunt. The name originates from the kanji zashiki for tatami room, and an older word for child, warashi. This young ghost child, usually … More 座敷童子 (ざしきわらし)