Cristy Burne


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8 body parts you will want for your own: Super Cool Japanese demon anatomy

Want some super-human anatomy?

Super-strength and super-speed are so passé. What you need are some Super Cool bits of Japanese demon anatomy.

Check these out:

1)     SKIN: Ushi oni (Cow demon)
牛鬼 (
うしおに)

A nasty yokai who loves sinking ships and eating fishermen, the ushi-oni (also known as gyuuki) lives in the ocean.

He has many awesome body parts: claws like elephant tusks, muscles that never get tired, eyes that can see for miles…

But his Super Cool feature is his skin: when he’s swimming, his skin stretches out to form individual fins and flaps that help him to shoot through the water at top speed.

2)     STOMACH: Umi nyōbō (Wife of the sea)
海女房(うみにょうぼう)

A dedicated wife, the umi nyubou spends much of her time preparing pickled fish (for her children to eat) or gathering sea snake venom (to protect her family from attack by humans).

She has a Super Cool digestive system, with three stomachs: one for her, one for her husband, and one for her children.

She uses the stomachs like cupboards, storing different food for different people. How convenient!

3)     NOSE: Sagari (Hanging horse-head)
下がり (
さがり)

Horse heads that hang upside-down like bats, sagari are said to be the ghosts of horses that died near trees.

They eat human blood, and can sense human auras using their Super Cool nose hairs.

These moustache-like tentacles can move independently and have also been known to shoot electricity like lightning.

4)     TAIL: Nobusuma (Flying squirrel)
野衾
(
のぶすま)

A fire-breathing, clairvoyant squirrel, the nobusuma has sharp black teeth and spiky claws.

Able to fly, although it has no wings, the nobusuma can blow its body up like a helium balloon, but the power for lift-off comes from his Super Cool tail.

By slamming his tail onto the ground, the nobusuma can launch his body into the air. Newton’s Third Law of Motion in action!

5)     FINGERNAILS: Kokuri-babā (Hag of the Old Priest’s Quarters)
古庫裏婆
(こくりばばあ)

The kokuri-babā lives alone in an old temple and wears a white kimono made of hair.

She may look like a frail, old woman, but when she’s hungry, her Super Cool fingernails become as strong as pickaxes, allowing her to rip into old graves to find dead things to eat.

6)     TEETH: Gangi kozō (Zig-zag boy)
岸涯小僧 (
がんぎこぞう)

Zig-zag boy is an amphibian yokai who lives in rivers, surviving on raw fish. He has no friends and no family, but he does have one redeeming feature: his Super Cool teeth.

Incredibly pointy and stronger than steel, Zig-zag boy’s teeth allow him to rip into raw fish, tearing them apart. If he loses a tooth, another will grow back right where he needs it.

7)     LUNGS: Dorotabou (Rice paddy zombie)
泥田坊 (
どろたぼう)

The tortured ghost of a farmer who lost his land, the dorotabou rises from the mud to haunt his old fields.

Surviving on leaves, leeches and frogs, this mud-dwelling yokai has Super Cool lungs that allow him to breathe even when submerged in mud.

8)     EARS: Suiko (Water tiger)
水虎(すいこ)

A blood-sucking kappa with the fangs, claws and power of a tiger, the suiko lives in fast flowing rivers. He is an accomplished killer, but also has a softer side: the suiko likes to sunbathe, and he likes to chat.

His Super Cool ear is divided into three parts, allowing him to understand Bird Talk, Fish Talk and Human Talk as well as his native Yokai Talk.

Thanks to manga and yokai legend Shigeru Mizuki and his awesome reference Yōkai Daizukai for the inspiration.


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Let the Book Week begin!

Takeshita Demons: The Filth Licker launches in Oz!

Woo hoo!

Childrens Book Week has begun! I spent this morning at Belmont’s Ruth Faulkner Public Library with students in Year 6 and 7 and it was terrific fun!

It’s SO GOOD to scare readers share with readers some of the legends behind the Japanese demons from my books.

The kids had heaps of great questions and did a great job answering librarian Edith’s questions in a pop quiz at the end.

And now I can rest at night knowing they are safe. Now EVERYBODY knows what to do when they meet a kappa, how to respond to the kuchi-sake-onna, and what food to serve when a fox comes to dinner 🙂

Phew! My work here is done 😉


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Cover art for Takeshita Demons: Monster Matsuri – what do you think?

Woo hoo! This week I can give you a sneak peek at the cover art for Takeshita Demons: Monster Matsuri

The sneakiest peek goes to the My Favourite Books blog, who feature an interview with me this week and showcase the new cover as part of it…

…but…for those of you who haven’t yet seen…

HERE IT IS! And I love it!!! (Especially the colours…but you’ll figure out why when you read the book :-))
What do you think?

Takeshita Demons: Monster Matsuri cover


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Quick quiz: Is your persimmon haunted?

persimmon monster - tankororin

The tankororin, about to drop from its tree...

Ever thought you might like to munch a chocolate bar instead of an apple? Prefer to eat banana cake and not bananas?

Well, you’re probably wise.

Fruit can be dangerous for your health!

Take the persimmon, for example. Persimmons are shiny orange fruit full of vitamin C and calcium and iron and lots of other stuff you need to stay healthy.

But how do you get all these healthy things?

You have to EAT the persimmon! And let me tell you, that’s not something I’d recommend.

Meet the tankororin: the Ripe Persimmon Monster.

The tankororin begins its life as an ordinary persimmon, but once it grows to a certain size on the persimmon tree, it jumps down, grows a human face and trots around on giant legs. Not what I’d like to find when I open my lunchbox!

Luckily, it’s easy to tell if your persimmon is becoming a tankororin monster. Try this quick quiz, for your own safety:

QUICK QUIZ: IS YOUR PERSIMMON HAUNTED?

Q1)      Does your persimmon have big, bulging eyes?

Yes:  Go to Q2

No:  Go to Q3

Q2)      Does your persimmon have a runny nose?

Yes:  Go to Q3 (and don’t worry…that’s not snot dribbling from your persimmon’s nose: it’s persimmon juice).

No:  Go to Q4

Q3)      Does your persimmon like to take long walks at night?

Yes:  Go to Q4

No:  Go to Q6

Q4)      Does your persimmon like to drop on people from above?

Yes:  Go to Q5

No:  Go to Q6

Q5)    Oh dear! I’m sorry to say that your persimmon is already haunted. Your only hope is to find a large Tupperware container, stick the persimmon inside and put the lid on tight. Then, stick the container in the freezer for a week. Your persimmon will freeze rock hard, then turn to sticky mush when it thaws. Safe!

Q6)    Congratulations! Your persimmon is probably safe to eat. Take a big bite. You see all those seeds? They grow into the persimmon monster’s brains and they’re tasty-tasty. Yum! Eat them while you can.


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Guest blogging for the Christchurch Kids Blog…all this month

Want to discover some new Japanese demons and monsters?

Want to hear about some spooky Japanese superstitions and proverbs?

Want to win a copy of Takeshita Demons?

All this month I’m blogging as a Star Author for the Christchurch Kids Blog

I’ll cover all the above topics and more, so head on over and join in the fun.

And in more exciting news…

I’m working on Takeshita Demons 4 – working title: MER-MONSTER!!! It’s going really well and I’m excited! Woo hoo!


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4 ways to recognise a Japanese iso-onna vampire

iso-onna-with-child

The iso-onna is pictured here with her child, who (despite his cute looks) is rumoured to be the source of all her power.

Introducing the aquatic vampire: iso-onna…

The iso onna (磯女 or ‘beach rock woman’) is a super-scary Japanese yokai found in fishing villages all over Japan. She has many different names, and all of them seem friendly enough:

– iso onago = rock girl
– umi onna = ocean woman
– umi hime = ocean princess
– umi nyoubo = ocean wife

But a warning!

In fact, the iso onna isn’t friendly at all. If you meet her, she will probably scream in your ear, grab you by your hair and drag you to the bottom of the ocean. I hope you can swim!

If you want to avoid this dreadful fate, you need to be able to pick an iso onna in a crowd.

This is what to look for:

1)     She wants to suck your blood.
Many of you may think blood-sucking is obvious when it comes to vampires, but some vampires (in Madagascar) prefer to eat toenail clippings, so it’s always good to be sure. The iso-onna is a blood-sucker from way back, so you can all be relieved. Your toenails are safe.

2)     Her hair is almost always wet
She lives in an underwater cave, but…that doesn’t mean you are safe if you don’t like swimming. When she’s hungry, she crawls from the waves to lie in wait on beach rocks for something to catch and eat. Let’s hope it’s not you.

3)     Her top half is a woman, her bottom half is a dragon.Iso onna statue
When your bottom half is a dragon, you can have trouble blending in to normal society. Especially when you’re longer than a reticulated python. Unluckily for you, the iso-onna can make her bottom half go invisible whenever she feels like it. So (now that I think of it) looking for shiny dragon scales isn’t really going to help you. Sorry.

4)     She likes to party
The iso onna is most often spotted on New Year’s Eve or during Obon, the Japanese festival of the dead (when the spirits of your ancestors come home for a three-day celebration). Maybe she attends these parties so she can pick the tastiest party guest to devour. Or maybe she just gets lonely living in her cave and likes to share some good food and warm thoughts before sucking your blood. I am certainly not brave enough to ask her.

How to survive an iso onna attack

So, now that you know what you’re looking for, you probably want to know how to beat an iso-onna in a fight. Well, you can’t. You have no chance. Sorry.

OK. So maybe you have one chance:

How to avoid the iso onna
The only way to survive an iso onna is to avoid her altogether. So, before you sleep, take three strands from a sedge mat and place them on the clothes you plan to wear the next day. This should protect you while you sleep. There. Don’t say I never write anything helpful on this blog 😉 🙂

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You’ve heard of the headless horseman? How about the headless horse?

You’ve heard of the headless horseman, right? He’s a famous legend that grew from a character in a story published in America nearly 100 years ago.

But…have you heard of the headless horse?

The headless horse is the favourite method of transport for a Japanese ogre called Mr Yagyo, or Yagyo-san.

yagyousanIntroducing Yagyo-san

Mr Yagyo isn’t just a strange one-eyed creature who likes shorter-than-normal horses…

He’s also a ruthless killer with legs so hairy you could use them to grate cheese. He despises human beings and this hatred keeps a fire burning in his heart all year round.

Beware the spiky soybeanYagyo-san

On Yagyo Day – the day before Setsubun, the beginning of spring – Yagyo-san jumps on his horse and heads out to hunt some tasty humans.

If he sees you, he’ll throw a spiked soybean at you, aiming right for your eyes. (This is interesting because in Japan the next day is Setsubun, when the power of soybeans is reversed; you can protect your entire house from evil spirits like Yagyo-san by throwing soybeans on Setsubun.)

So, how can you survive?

Easy! Legends say that if you spend Yagyo Day lying face down on the ground with a pair of sandals on your head, Yagyo-san will pass you by. So don’t worry…You’re safe with sandals!


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Make your own monster: in Japanese and English

Creating monsters with Japanese students at the Hyogo Centre

Me causing chaos at the Hyogo Centre…the students are inventing some awesome monsters!

I’m just back from a terrific conference with the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators. It was great!!

I am all inspired and fired up to start work on ideas for a Takeshita Demons book 5 (and I think book 4 is nearly ready to start writing!)

Monster self-introductions

If you’re looking for inspiration for your own writing, or you want a fun activity for teaching Japanese language or creative writing, check out the new Monster Self Introductions activity on my website.

We gave it a try with some Year 9s at the Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre last week and they came up with some super scary (sometimes hilarious) monsters. Well done guys!!!


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There’s a tanuki in the classroom! Japanese language learning and yokai demons

Shingo the tanuki and the money tree

The Hyogo Centre’s Melissa Luyke with professional actor Shingo Usami in disguise as a tanuki.

Creative language teaching ideas

Today I was at the Hyogo Prefectural Cultural Government Centre as part of a series of workshops organised by Ms Yuko Fujimitsu, Japanese Language Advisor for the Department of Education as part of the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP).

We worked with Year 9 students from three schools (including my own school, Leeming Senior High School!) and spent the entire day in a Japanese environment…

…speaking Japanese, eating Japanese, thinking about Japanese geography and culture.

Yokai wall of fame

Yokai wall of fame

And that’s where I was lucky enough to come in, because a big part of Japan’s culture is its mythology, history and folklore, showcased very nicely in some of Japan’s ghost stories and yokai tales.

Language learning through art, literature and drama

There was a big emphasis on new or different teaching techniques and ideas for introducing ordinary grammar into the classroom.

The day’s activities included:

Tanuki Shingo Usami and presenter Cristy Burne compare bellies

Tanukis love to use their large bellies as drums. I’m using mine to grow a baby, but still, Tanuki Shingo’s belly is bigger!

– watching GeGeGe no Kitaro (perhaps the most famous yokai in the world) fight the awesome gyuuki (or ushi-oni).

– folding and pinning origami leaves onto a money tree (for donation to the Pray for Japan cause),

– language learning through drama (led by actor Shingo Usami), art (using the Art Speaks Japanese language resource kit put out by the Japan Foundation Sydney), and literature (me and some of the Takeshita Demons)

– Japanese story-telling and song-singing

– Lots of practise in listening and speaking Japanese, especially when it came to lunchtime (no polite request for a bento box lunch in Japanese = no bento box lunch!)

It was a great day and we have more schools coming tomorrow…

がんばりまーす!


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8 signs that your snail is an ogre: Sazae-oni revealed

The humble sazae snail, before it turns 30

The humble sazae snail (or turban snail), before it morphs into a killer demon (thanks to &_yo)

Ever squashed a snail in the street?

Ever eaten a snail, albeit with French cheese?

Ever filled an icecream container with snails, painted their shells different colours using your new set of textas, then raced them all afternoon?
(OK, so maybe this last one is just me and my sisters, but still…)

Ever wondered what revenge a snail could take?

The awesome yokai researcher and artist, Toriyama Sekien did. This is what he discovered:

The Sazae-oni: it’s demon time!

Sekien's Sazae-oni or Sazae ogre demon

Sekien’s Sazae-oni

Our universe is a marvellous thing, where all kinds of creatures can evolve and prosper. The Sazae-oni (or Sazaeoni) is one of these miracles. Literally the Sazae Ogre, it’s a demon formed when the Sazae turban snail (very tasty when served with mushrooms or soy sauce) turns 30 (or some say 100) years old.

Of course, when 10,000 tonnes of your buddies are punctured with knifes and BBQed evey year, you’re liable to get mad.

Signs to watch for in your snail:

1) Sudden increase in size
If your snail is turning into a yokai, it will grow larger when you’re not looking. Much larger.

2) Unseasonal weather
A sazae-oni loves to fill its gills with water and then spray a fine mist into the air, creating the impression of a foggy day.

3) Amphibian lungs
Did I say gills? A sazae-oni is also equipped with amphibian gills, allowing it to thrive underwater or on land. There is nowhere you’ll be safe.

4) Human hands
Oh yeah. Human hands is probably going to be easier to spot than amphibian lungs. Especially since each palm is lined with giant suckers that allow the snail body to stick to any surface.

5) Constant licking
And not the snail demon licking itself. I mean the snail demon licking you. Its tongue is super-long and sticky and it finds entertainment in stroking passing humans on the face. Like it or not. (Probably not...Did I guess right?)

6) Death (yours)
And again, I don’t mean the snail. If you’re close enough for the snail to lick, chances are you have already been spat on. With giant, sticky globs of paralysing poison, designed to kill you quick. Sorry, but a snail this big has got to eat.

7) Python-like intestines
Now we’re into the ‘Death’ part, I can tell you that the Sazae-oni doesn’t really have teeth. But that doesn’t matter. You’ll most likely be crushed to pieces in coil after coil of its powerful gut. Sqiushed to bits by a boa-constricting bowel. Nice.

8 ) New friends
But it’s not all bad. Sazae-oni like to hang out in mermaid lairs, so when you (inevitably) are excreted, you’ll be floating around with some of the most beautiful babes in the ocean. Except, oh yeah, I forgot to mention…. Japanese mermaids (ningyo or 人魚) aren’t really all that good to look at. Sorry.

Don’t say I didn’t try to warn you!!!

If you want to know what to look out for, check out some awesome sazae-oni artwork.

And  a big THANK YOU to Shigeru Mizugi, master of yokai, for his expertise on and relentless study of sazae-oni. Our safety is in his hands.

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