Travel Reads: “Yokai Wonderland” by Koichi Yumoto

Yōkai are a class of supernatural monsters, spirits, and demons in Japanese folklore. This book takes you into the world of Yokai in art, both two- and three-dimensional, and from vintage to contemporary worlds of art.

Yokai Wonderland by Koichi Yumoto

Specs

Title: Yokai Wonderland: More from YUMOTO Koichi Collection: Supernatural Beings in Japanese Art
Editor/Author: Koichi Yumoto
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: PIE International
Language: English & Japanese
ISBN-10: 4756249736
ISBN-13: 978-4756249739
Available on Amazon in paperback.

Summary of Yokai Wonderland

If you’ve had the desire to travel to Japan to witness its fascinating supernatural art, Yokai Wonderland will let you do that without leaving your armchair. Filled with strangely familiar creatures, as well as those you may never have imagined, Yokai Wonderland is visually stimulating—and an interesting read, as well.

The text is provided in both Japanese and English, and shares information—sometimes historical, sometimes contextual—about each piece of art shared within the pages. There are also a small collection of essays that delve deeper into various Yokai lore.

The artwork in this book come from paintings, woodblock prints, scrolls, ceramics, kimonos, wooden sculptures, magazines, toys, board games, and more.

This book is a sequel companion to Yokai Museum: The Art of Japanese Supernatural Beings from YUMOTO Koichi Collection, which was published in 2013.

What Worked for Me

I really enjoyed leafing through the pages and looking at the art of the fantastic. Much of the art is from the Edo period (1603-1868), but there are more contemporary images, as well. The book is colorful and the imagery draws you in. But don’t leaf through this before bed! Some of the images might inspire a nightmare or two.

The English translation of the Japanese text is very readable and provides interesting notes and historical context to the images.

What Didn’t Work for Me

The book is printed on matte paper stock, which will probably make it last longer. But it does dull the colors. I wonder if at least some of the images would have been better served on glossy photographic stock.

What I’d Love to See in the Second Edition

I would love to see at least a handful of pages on glossy photographic stock so that the colors of appropriate images would really pop.

Recommendation

If you enjoyed the imagery of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, you’ll enjoy Yokai Wonderland. It is a delightful romp through the supernatural imagination of Japanese culture.

Score for Yokai Wonderland: 4 out of 5 Palm Trees

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Pick up your copy on Amazon.com here.

NOTE: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you’ve read past book reviews, you’ll know that I don’t pull my punches when I believe they are warranted. I also try to provide balanced information so you can make your own decision to read or not read the book, even if you disagree with my opinion.

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About the author

As The Genre Traveler, Carma Spence loves to view the world through Genre-Coloured glasses. In other words, she sees the world through a lens of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where trash cans can be Daleks in disguise and neighborhood forests can harbor faeries and sprites. Magic realism is real! Or at least you can choose to see the world that way to add to the fun and awe of life.

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