What are your top five mythical creatures? I outline my Big 5 for superb Kiwi book blog, My Best Friends Are Books.
So, what are my Top Five???
I love monsters, mythical creatures, spooky feelings and freaky things that go bump in the night. Woah. I get shivers just thinking about them.
My Takeshita Demons books are overflowing with spooky monsters and demons from Japanese folklore, called yōkai. Anyone who’s heard of Pokemon or Yokai-attack, played with Yu-Gi-Oh, read manga or even bought a lotto ticket has probably encountered a yōkai. (Remember that lucky cat with the beckoning paw?) There are hundreds of yōkai and they’ve been popular in Japan for hundreds of years. Some are hugely famous, like the nine-tailed fox or the shape-shifting tanuki, but others are obscure and strange. My books feature lots of different demons, but here are my top five from the series so far:
1. Akaname (The Filth Licker) 垢嘗
The demon you really want for a friend. He’s loyal and funny and he loves to clean, so you don’t have to. In traditional tales, he comes out at night to lick dirty bathrooms till they sparkle… In my books, he also cleans laundries, kitchens, dirty faces, you name it. Plus his super-sensitive tongue can taste out clues. He’s like a detective in a frog’s skin.
2. Sagari (Hanging horse-head) 下がり
This demon gets a prize for Weird Monster of the Year: It’s basically a horse’s head that floats around upside-down, has electric nose hairs, sharp teeth, and a habit of dropping on you unexpectedly. St-range! And dangerous!
3. Kodama (Tree spirit) 木魂
I love big, old trees, and in Japanese culture, these ancient trees are often home to kodama (http://hyakumonogatari.com/category/magical-tree-stories/), spirits who mimic the sounds of the forest and cause echoes to bounce through the woods. A kodama’s tree trunk is tied with a sacred rope, called a shimenawa. If you cut down such a tree, you’re in for some very bad luck.
4. Noppera-bō (Faceless ghost) のっぺら坊
This shape-shifting yōkai can wipe features from its face like words from a whiteboard. The noppera-bō can take the shape of any person: it could be your best friend, your mum, your teacher… There’s no way to tell unless you look in a mirror: a noppera-bō’s reflection will have no face! So, is the person sitting next to you really who you think they are?
5. Betobeto-san (Mr Footsteps) べとべとさん
Almost everyone has had the feeling they’re being followed. Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is…you ARE being followed. The good news is, you’re being followed by Betobeto-san, a sort of oversized, invisible marshmallow on legs. He eats the sound of your footsteps, but don’t worry: he’s quite shy and not at all dangerous (unless you’re allergic to marshmallows?).