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People's Daily Online>>Life & Culture

Monster culture thrives in modern Japan

By Zhang Yuebin (People's Daily)

18:54, November 21, 2011

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

Beijing, Nov.21 --The city of Sakaiminato of Japan's Tottori Prefecture recently held its sixth Examination on Monster Knowledge. Sakaiminato is the hometown of the renowned monster cartoonist Shigeru Mizuki, whose character Ghost Boy is very popular in Japan. The goals of the examination are to promote the popularity of the city, build the city into a tourist attraction and obtain a good tourism income.

Japan's monster figures are various, large in number and interwoven into the spiritual fabric of Japan's common people. In Japan, descriptions of monsters are vivid, and monster TV series, movies and cartoons are very prevalent.

Some monsters have very long histories and are known to every household. For example, there is the Kappa, a monster child living in the lake or river. The legend of the Kappa is closely connected with the living environment of Japan and reflects how Japanese people rely on the water. Some monsters of Japan were imported from China, such as the Sky Dog, which originated from the ancient Chinese book Shanhai Jing.

In addition to traditional monsters, Japanese people have also created many new monster figures based on Japan's social phenomena, such as the Split-Lip Woman, Snail Girl, Ghost Driver and Human-Face Dog.

In Japan, the development of monster culture is also related to the transitions of history. When society is turbulent, the legends of monsters are always very prevalent. To a certain extent, monsters reflect Japanese people's anxiety and fear about their futures and destinies. From this viewpoint, it could be seen that the current prevalence of monster culture in Japan reflects not only the abundance of Japan's leisure cultures but also Japanese people's anxiety and uncertainty about the country's future.

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