I was venturing into a bit of manga with these comics and in one issue (I can't remember which) one of the girls imagined one of the other girls as some sort of wall thing. It completely went over my head, didn't get the reference at all. In the back, luckily, there was a list of things that was basically 'Japanese things mentioned in this story that you might not know about' and the wall thing was in there.
Turns out it was Nurikabe, a yokai (Japanese monster from folklore and the like) that is a wall that turns up in front of you when you're walking in the forest at night and makes you get lost.
I thought it was amazing and decided to do a bit of research into yokai. Turns out there are so many yokai you can just keep clicking on links and reading and being amazed for ages.
I knew I wanted to do something with this new found information and quite quickly settled on the idea of amigurumi yokai. Makes sense I reckon.
I narrowed down the research and made a list of some yokai that I had an instant idea of how I thought they would look and set about figuring out my patterns.
I tried to read about each yokai from as many sources as I could find and then kind of put together my own little version. I hope I've never changed anything to the point of being offensive to a countries folklore but I figured they're made up monster stories that tend to have a lot of variety anyway so I thought I could make them my own.
I have started out with 5 different yokai and I'm quite pleased with them. I've just started my second wave of research to make some more and I'm also pondering the idea of using folklore from other countries and turning that into crochet creatures and maybe even making up some of my own.
I love how some of them are cute and friendly and some of them are just horrifically dark and gruesome. I've found with some things I've made (including these yokai) that people have assumed it's for children when it hadn't occurred to me at all when I was making it that it would be aimed at kids. I'm making them because I'm interested in it and thought they'd be a cool thing to have that other people might find interesting too, not because they're odd looking toys for kids. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, if kids like them too then that's fine by me!) It's made me wary of making the more horrific yokai or including the more unpleasant details with some of the ones I have made. I think I'm going to try and get over that though, the idea of a cute little crochet thing with a scary story attached is quite cool.
It's always really hard to know how people are going to perceive things you've made but then I guess really you should make whatever you feel like making and people are going to think whatever they like. You can't please everyone.
As well as making the amigurumi I've made a tag for each one too with a little illustration on the front and an explanation on the inside about that particular yokai. Making the whole thing from start to finish is really awesome. I get to research something I'm really interested in, come up with a design, figure out how to make it, do the actual crochet and then even get some illustration in there too. (Then there's layout and design type doings with photoshop which I'm not so fond of but I reckon the tags have ended up pretty good so it's worth it.)
Now I just hope other people like them as much as I do so I can fund the habit and keep making more!
From top to bottom the 5 yokai in these photos are Nurikabe, Kodama, Ashinaga Tenaga, Baku and Nurarihyon.
If you know of any good creatures from folklore from anywhere I'd love to know about it.
My shops each have an amigurumi section which is where you can find these guys for sale (here for etsy and here for folksy).