Rare Books, Manga

Skeletons Stalk Stacks

Submitted by Christine Edmonson on

These delightful skeletons and demons are part of a Japanese tradition known as yōkai, a term used broadly that includes the phantasmagoria of monsters, ghosts, mysterious apparitions, and inexplicable phenomena that have animated Japanese culture for over a thousand years. They take on many forms, with some having shapeshifting ablilites. Used in folklore by Japanese writers and artists, it is so easy to understand the collecting appeal by western artists when these prints began to be available in Europe. Imagine our fright to find these characters haunting our library stacks in Gyosai Manga by Kawanabe Kyosai. I can't help but think about the similarity to Disney's animated skeletons -- dancing and leaping to the sounds of the boney xylophone!