I've long been a fan of Japanese art - particularly ukiyo-e, woodcuts, and scrolls that feature the wonderful folklore, Shinto beliefs, supersitions, ghosts, goblins, supernatural and magical sides to Japanese thought. I studied Asian art history and was lucky enough to view a lot of centuries-old artworks firsthand and on a personal basis. After visiting Japan several months back it left an indelible impression on me - in fact I'm going back again next month! But I digress..... here comes some of the background behind tonight's painting - "Hyakki Yakō" is the title - it translates roughly to "Hundred Demon Night Parade". There are several famous scrolls from hundreds of years back that depict this mysterious event - a summer night where all sorts of ghosts, spirits and Yokai walk the streets of the Earth, bringing bad fortune to those living creatures who witness them. Kinda spooky! Famed artists of centuries past like Tosa Mitsunobu, Toriyama Sekien, Utagawa Yoshiiku, and Aotoshi Matsui filled their scrolls with fanciful interpretations of the Hyakki Yakō and recurring characters often showed up - some of which I have included in my painting! You also will see Hyakki Yakō and Yokai references in many more contemporary Japanese cultural works of manga, movies, and anime - notably yokai master Shigeru Mizuki of back in the 1960s, or even Hayao Miyazaki of today. Sorry to be so wordy - just a subject I really like, and wanted to tell you all about, to give some context =) This is my own original acrylic painting. At any rate - I've created my own version of the Hyakki Yakō - with a bit of Strangeling flair of course ;) A dark parade of sinister (yet amusing!) creatures out of Japanese folklore make their nighttime journey against a backdrop of paper lanterns. A fantastic giant skeleton rounds up the back - some of you may recognize him as a nod to 17th century ukiyo-e master Kuniyoshi! At the front of the parade is a Noh-mask sporting noppera bo ghost (you may remember these from my "Faceless Ghosts" painting!), one of my sad looking long-haired big eyed girls is next, clutching a Daruma head (with only one eye filled in - I wonder what her unfulfilled wish is?). Some other noppera bo with Noh masks appear - one seems to actually be a skeleton behind his mask! A Rokuro-kubi is in line - these are creepy - Geisha girl-like ladies who have impossibly long necks that can strech like a snake! A kitsune fox is there, other bakemono and random Yokai, a couple of different Lantern Ghosts, a Karakasa-obake (umbrella spirit) and Bakezouri (the sandal/shoe spirit) are there too. There is so much going on, you could look at it many times and discover things anew!