2010-10-11

Creature Feature.

A long time ago I showed some Noodle ads featuring Prehistoric creatures. I only showed 2 of them and there are many, so I thought I'd show off one and then accompany it with a Yōkai or two.

Starting with what they call a Giant Warthog, but we all know it's a Brontotherium, the Yōkai I've chosen is a ばっき (Bakki), I can't dig up much info on it except that it's 90 cm long, has eyes of iron and its head can rotate 180 degrees. Apparently it can get wrestled by an old lady (or the lady is the Bakki, I'm not sure which!)


My Uintatherium doesn't have a very good Yōkai-doppleganger, so I'll equate it with the きりん or Kirin, the Qilin of China, part dragon and part hoofed mammal, sometimes called the "Chinese unicorn". In the Chinese hierarchy of mythological animals, the Qilin is ranked as the third most powerful creature (after the dragon and phoenix), but in Japan, the Kirin occupies the top spot.
Although it looks fearsome, the Kirin only punishes the wicked. It can walk on grass yet not trample the blades and it can also walk on water. Being a peaceful creature, its diet does not include flesh. It takes great care when it walks never to tread on any living thing, and it is said to appear only in areas ruled by a wise and benevolent leader (notice that the Uintatherium doesn't harm its pursuers either). It is normally gentle but can become fierce if a pure person is threatened by a sinner, spouting flames from its mouth and exercising other fearsome powers that vary from story to story.

We can see the Kirin today everytime we reach for a beer and it is the Japanese name for the modern day Giraffe.


The Giant Squid is pretty darned big, but even it is dwarfed when these two team up.

足なが手なが (Ashinagatenaga=Long Legs/Long Arms) hunt along the beach and as you can see by the picture, one is from the land of Long-Armed people, the other from Long-Legged Land (kind of Swiftian, isn't it?)


The saga of the Saiga Antelope is one fraught with danger (almost extinct don't ya know) but the 篠崎狐 (Shinozaki-Kitsune which is actually a fox) kind of resembles it.


I don't really have a Yōkai that looks like a Pterodactyl so let's just go with a いつまでん (Itsumaden), which has an Archaeopteryx-thing going on. Feed your Cave-men for it is said that a person allowed to starve to death becomes an Itsumaden, which haunts whoever refused to feed it in life, crying Itsumade, Itsumade; "How long, how long?", how long will I be neglected?" 


Speaking of Cave-men, I wore such a costume a few years ago but I never had to fight off a Smilodon unlike these poor souls. There are several Neanderthal-looking Yōkai , but I think the さとり (Satori) is great example. 覚, which means "consciousness", are a type of mountain-dwelling Yōkai in Japanese folklore that holds the power to read human thoughts. The creature is said to approach travellers on mountain paths and speak their thoughts aloud. The way to counter a Satori is to empty one's mind (I should be safe), in which case the creature will grow bored and leave, run in fear, or even die.


Another creature of mammoth proportions would be the Mammoth and since there aren't any Pachyderms in Japan, let's go with a くだん (Kudan), a human-faced calf which predicts a calamity and then dies.

Or this one for a Spicy Curry:


After the Moa, I only have one moa. The 婆山 (Basan) is said to breathe fox-fire, creating eerie ghost-flames. It is, however, not known to cause any injury to humans (unlike it's New Zealand cousin.)


I like this one the best although I can only find it in Spanish. It's the Megatherium and this Sloth-Bear hybrid bears a resemblance to the いじゅう(Ijyuu) a Yōkai from Echigo that apparently likes to carry around your household goods.


This took ages to compose but it was a lot of fun doing so.
FYI, today is the 11th Anniversary of my sojourn in Japan!!

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