Michael Dylan Foster: Pandemonium and Parade Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai

Nt ras approached the yokai supernatural creatures that Foster maintains are uniuely Japanese in character The study focuses on a limited set of yokai writers spanning three centuries The neo Confucian Edo period for On Such a Full Sea example is represented by the bestiaries of Toriyama Sekien whose collections of supernatural creatures parallel thencyclopedic zeitgeist of the time Examining the Hello, Hippo! Goodbye, Bird! early Meiji period and its mania for Western style rationalization Foster focuses on the work of Inoue Enryo whose detailed studies seek to debunk andxplain traditional supernaturalism often through the prism of Freudian psychology Moving into the twentieth century Pandemonium and Parade shows how yokai were increasingly used by fiction writers as Cannibal expressions of nostalgia this sentiment is typified by a poignant anecdote about a tanuki a shape shifting raccoon dog with a traditional love for tunnels who is run over by a train By thend of the book we see yokai being used inventively with manga artists like Mizuki Shigeru creating new characters and the Mastered (The Enforcers, encyclopedic traditionxperiencing a marked rebirthFoster s study is not itself a compilation of yokai stories Rather it is a detailed Man, Son of Man examination of trends in Japanese thought and how they are reflected in yokai folklore and creative work including nods to international sensations that have their roots in yokai tradition such as Godzilla and the Pok mon mythos Somewhat unexpectedly Foster draws on nationalist theorists like Benedict Anderson to argue that the yokai are a self consciously Japanese mode ofxpression and celebration of national character Though the yokai do have their appeal abroad Foster points out that most internationally successful adaptations of yokai motifs are Alter Ego extensively stylized and that traditional characterizationsven in modern works set in the present day have very limited appeal outside of Japan Pandemonium and Parade is an intellectually disciplined xamination of change in one aspect of Japanese thought over time integrated with broader changes in society and will be a rewarding read for those with an interest in intellectual history and folkloristics The book still bears the structural hallmarks of a doctoral dissertation however lacking some of the rhetorical niceties that similar works use to guide readers through their topics As such though an xcellent study this book may not be as approachable as it could be I m very in the middle about this book it wasn t fantastic but it also wasn t bad It s an academic read so it can be uite dry in parts Overall I thought the information was presented uite nicely and it kept my interest Uncommon Wisdom enough to finish the bookven though it took me uite a while I was a little disappointed as I thought it would be about specific monsters in Japanese folklore Instead it focused on the mysterious in Japan I was also very disappointed that the author used Freud uite heavily in his analysis The pace seemed to pick up a little once the author got closer to the contemporary All in all ok but I don t think I ll be reading this author any time soon. Ntury 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 nati.

I was Unseen City extremely glad to see that a book like this had finally been written This book looks at the history of youkai in Japanese pop culture Though it does reuire some knowledge of Japanese history it does a very good job ofducating the reader about the function of at least one aspect of the supernatural in Japanese culture A wealth of information for those interested in the history of y kai Unfortunately this often reads like a PhD Art expanded into a book with rambley tangents that while often interesting in themselves aren t that fun to read as a whole Foster s at his best when the focus is clear like in his in depth critiue of the Kuchi sake onna slit mouthed woman phenomena of the 70s Like his subjects of analysis the Japanese people he categorises monsters and spirits into a comprehensible cultural history and almost manages to move beyond this project into a less past oriented terrain in the latter chapters As it is this is an interestingxamination of folklore metamorphosing through the ages A good books for academics who want to study about Yokai When Michael Dylan Foster gets tenure I hope he revisits this subjectwithout the really awful academic writing This book was very long and dense since I was very unfamiliar with the subject matter I took notes and freuently retread sections but I God Is in the Crowd enjoyed it very much I now have a list of creatures to research books to find translations of and movies to watch so I could understand the subject matter than just cursorily This book was an amazing introduction into the Japanese world of supernatural beings and their history Though Japanese things have been a part of the American landscape for decades its culture andspecially its traditional culture has been largely misrepresented reaching us through distorted filters such as samurai films anime and manga and horribly inaccurate novels such as James Clavell s Shogun There have however been a few Attracting Songbirds to Your Backyard encouraging trends aimed at dispelling these cultural myths one of them being the increasing number of books being published in the English language about Japan sxtremely rich storehouse of folklore and folkways One of the most bizarre and fascinating aspects of this traditional folklore is y kai the horde of traditional monsters and ghosts that haunt tales and legends woodblock prints and old picture scrolls These y kai are the subject of Pandemonium and Parade a new book by Indiana University professor Michael Dylan Foster Unlike the mostly generic and amorphous Western concept of monster the y kai are many and varied usually numbered at above two hundred The Matriarchs (The Family each of which have been illustrated and described in terms of their habitat behavior and origin Foster s book traces the history of belief and unbelief in these spooks fromarly depictions in story collections and picture scrolls from the twelfth century through their inclusion in Edo period 1603 1868 Notes for the Everlost encyclopedias all the way to the present folklore studies movement and popularization in Japanese mass media Foster does an admirable job at describing a few typical y kainabling the. Water sprites mountain goblins shape shifting animals and the monsters known as yôkai have long haunted the Japanese cultural landscape This history of the strange and mysterious in Japan seeks out these creatures in folklore ncyclopedias literature art science games manga magazines and movie.

Uninitiated reader to get a general feel for these legendary creatures and what was so appealing to them for the Japanese of historical and present ages He highlights how they play on cultural fears anxieties and taboos illuminates how their depiction in various art forms as comical grotesue and bizarre transformed the fear they inspired into something that can be known and laughed at and xplores how their presence today provides a feeling of nostalgia and a living link to a longed for past that is meaningful and relevant Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the subject is the role of y kai in No Biggy! expressing the wonder and curiosity that humankind has felt worldwide through almostvery period of its history Y kai are both weird provoking us to ask Why is that the way it is and mysterious Crush It! evoking in us a sense of something transcendent and otherworldly As monsters and ghosts they remind us that we are not as knowledgeable or as strong as we think we are and that there is much in the world that we do not presently and perhaps never can understand Pandemonium and Parade addresses these themes thoroughly and insightfullyxploring not only the phenomenon of y kai but also the various other ways in which the Japanese have Attracting Birds to Your Backyard experienced the mysterious and the weird Foster also discusses how y kai have woven their way in and out of belief becoming at times mere cultural artifacts orvidence of superstition to be Deep Listening eradicated in the face of progress But far fromvaporating in the harsh Bird-by-Bird Gardening electric lights of modernity the ghosts and apparitions of Japan have become symbols of a cultural heritage used as corporate logos symbols of local tourism andmblems of rural revitalization As mentioned above Foster s book is part of a burgeoning collection of materials on Japanese folklore published in the past few years as well as into the near future Others of note to name a small few are Stephen Addiss Japanese Ghosts and Demons Gerald Figal s Civilization and Monsters Kunio Yanagita s Legends of T no and the website The Obakemono Project obakemonocom These works illuminate not only cultural truths of a particular nation but aspects of universal human The Works of Saint Augustine experience As contemporary folklorist Kazuhiko Komatsu has said the study of folklore is culture studies a human ology that seeks to study humans and humanxperience through the lens of tradition Foster s Pandemonium and Parade serves to clarify that lens for an American readership I understand Pokemon and other products of Japanese cultural heritage yada yada a whole lot better now An academic yet accessible study on the folklore history and anthropology of yokai Segues nicely into the modern influences of yokai and pop culture If you want a detailed and well researched treatment of yokai then this is it An Unbuttoning the CEO (The Suits Undone excellent work however those with of a passing interest may find it a bit heavy going at times Pandemonium and Parade is an interesting blend of intellectual history and folklore scholarship Foster uses major periods of Japanese history to frame his discussion demonstrating how authors of differe. Sxploring their meanings in the Japanese cultural imagination and offering an abundance of valuable and until now understudied material Michael Dylan Foster tracks yôkai over three centuries from their appearance in seventeenth century natural histories to their starring role in twentieth ce.

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