Sunday, October 26, 2008


I wanted to share a good read from one of the absolute best blogs about Tokyo, the infamous Tokyo Damage Report. TDR is written by a Bay Area expat named Schultz. Schultz is a renaissance man-- a singer, photographer, punk, and even nihongo rapper. The dude does it all!

TDR is my favorite in-country blog about Japan for a bunch of reasons, but the main one is that it's free from the self-obsessed, boring and often orientalist bullshit perspective of a lot of blogs about Japan by foreigners. Schultz doesn't forget that he's a white dude living abroad, but he's learned the language, lived there for years, been in Tokyo bands, and really knows his shit.

His blogging specialities include a guide to Tokyo (where I originally heard about Nakano Broadway!) metal and punk show reports, insane japanese trade show photojournalism, fetish club and disco parties, and the occasional interview. He also created an unique Kanji-learning dictionary, which I recommend if you're past the intro levels in your studies.

This week, he's published an intriguing and right-on interview with Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt, the writer/translator couple responsible for the book, YOKAI ATTACK.

YOKAI ATTACK is a illustrated trivia and guide book, breaking down all the Japanese yokai monster myths, along with some contemporary twists on the folklore. You should know yokai by now from Miike's The Great Yokai War, Umezu's Cat Eyed Boy and Tezuka's Dororo series, for starters. Here's a quick excerpt from the interview:
TDR: Earlier, you said that part of the motivation for the book was cultural exchange . . . did researching yokai give you some insight into Japanese culture? I mean, it must have taken a certain kind of culture to create folk-tales with these unique traits ?

MA: Normally when you see yokai illustrations and wood-block prints you see them in a museum, in a textbook, in a very academic setting very divorced from how they were actually consumed back in the 1700s. One of the things that really struck me is how cosmopolitan and well-developed the Japanese sense of humor was, even hundreds of years ago. They’re filled with gags, satire… These illustrations overflow with humanity. These books, particularly Sekien, weren’t some formal thing that was presented to the Emperor on some special holy day - they were like the best-selling manga of that time. People gathered around, reading and laughing. “Hey, I know a guy like that!!” kind of thing. So to take that and live it day in and day out, and appreciate it and experience it the way that the people at the time experienced it, was one of the great things about doing this book.

For more info about the book and authors, Matt runs a solid blog about Japan, and YOKAI ATTACK is available in bookstores (or you can get it from Amazon).



John T said...

YOKAI ATTACK is a lot of fun and very well put together. Thanks for posting that interview link, Ryan.

Ryan S said...

No problem. I definitely recommend reading through the archives of TOKYO DAMAGE REPORT, if you haven't already.

I just browsed Yokai Attack at the bookstore but haven't had time to sit down with it. It seemed pretty right on though. Do you have a favorite Yokai creature from the book?

Anonymous said...

del rey announced a new book of this genre for 2009!!

yokai doctor oy yuki sato any information about that??

how is it that a god like shigeru mizuki doesnt have anything licensed!!

this book,looks very interesting perhaps because of the amount of information about these genre!!

I am really looking foward to it!!