Archive for category japan

A New Face for the Cat

Linda Butler

Rural Japan

Noh and KyÔ gen Masks, Yamagata-ken


on the year’s last night

a new face for the cat…

devil’s mask


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Fish Shop of the Town

Copyright All rights reserved by sora018

Rolleiflex SL66SE Planar 80mm

In Japan, the fish means well-being, happiness and freedom. It is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols used in Buddhism imported from China. The fish symbolises living in a state of fearlessness, without danger of drowning in the ocean of sufferings, and migrating from place to place freely and spontaneously.

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Hashiguchi Goyo

Woman with fan and cricket cage, 1920

Hashiguchi Goyo (1880-1921)



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Cherry Blossoms

Ray Morimura, Cherry Blossoms at Yamaka, 1994


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Nukekubi (ぬけくび) from the Bakemono-Dukushi Yumoto-C
Author unknown
Edo period

Nukekubi are monsters found in Japanese folklore. By day, nukekubi appear to be normal human beings. By night, however, their heads detach at the neck smoothly from their bodies and fly about independently in search of human prey. These heads attack by screaming (to increase their victims’ fright), then closing in and biting.

While the head is detached, the body of a nukekubi becomes inanimate. In some legends, this serves as one of the creature’s few weaknesses; if a nukekubi’s head cannot locate and reattach to its body by sunrise, the creature dies. Legends often tell of would-be victims foiling the creatures by destroying or hiding their bodies while the heads are elsewhere.

By day, nukekubi often try to blend into human society. They sometimes live in groups, impersonating normal human families. The only way to tell a nukekubi from a normal human being is a line of red symbols around the base of the neck where the head detaches. Even this small detail is easily concealed beneath clothing or jewelry.

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