Japanese folk-art emerges from the more rural areas of Japan, far from the world of high priced, developed and self-conscious art that we know today. Instead, art acts as an honest reflection of Japanese life according to folklore. The underlying essence to Japanese folk art is termed sbibui, meaning subtle and serious. The art is dedicated to projecting simplicity through strength, and tends to stick to darker colours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yōkai: referring to a ghost, monster, spirit, or apparition.

The Yōkai lies at the core of the mysticism in Japanese folklore. The Yōkai lives in the ‘in-between’, and in stories they settle in remoter areas; in the mountains, the forests, or on the margins of rural villages. The fascination with the yōkai, from a Western point of view, is a current one. The long tradition of folklore and the tale  of the yōkai have only relatively recently become a fascination. The intrigue into the supernatural, the paranormal, or just the unexplainable has become somewhat of an obsession in Western popular culture. With the phenomenon of vampires, the parallel universe, and ‘the underneath’, we have become fixated with fantasy in fiction. The features of the yōkai have even been reflected in Stranger Things, scaring us through the evocation of childhood fears and nightmares. In rural Japanese culture however, this is not a fleeting excitement that leaves us as soon as we put the screen down, this is a belief, a core element to Japanese folklore culture.

Japanese Folk-Art

Tatty Martin

helicon.magazine@gmail.com

© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol