Cristy Burne

Author, editor, science writer


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Children’s Book Week 2013…”Now I know how to kill monsters”

Children’s Book Week is nearly over for 2013…I’m having a ball, visiting schools and libraries almost every day this month! Phew!

It makes it so much fun when the kids I’m talking to have such great imaginations, and the libraries they visit are so amazingly decorated, and their teachers play along with my jokes  (thanks!)…YAY!

And, check out the lovely fan mail: “Now I know how to kill monsters”

….and isn’t that what reading is all about!

Three cheers for Children’s Book Week!


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Yokai featured in Monster Matsuri

Watch out adventure lovers! Takeshita Demons 3, Monster Matsuri, is out!!

I’ve blogged before on yokai demons featured in book one  and book two of the Takeshita Demons series, so…who should we look out for in Monster Matsuri?

Yokai featured in Takeshita Demons: Monster Matsuri

Akaname (Filth Licker) 垢嘗
Great news: if you don’t clean your bathroom, the akaname will. He has frog-like skin, a long hairy tongue, and a fondness for slime, mould and rot. He likes to lick grimy bathrooms until they sparkle.

Ama-no-jyaku  (Demon of Heaven) 天邪鬼
This tiny ogre loves confusion and hate, and he’ll go out of his way to create it.  He can read your deepest desires and will twist his words to lead you in the opposite direction to that which you desire.

Boroboro-ton (Battered futon) 暮露々々団
Remember that old quilt you’ve had for years and never washed? Well, by now it could be haunted. If it shuffles around the room by itself, watch out: the only cure is a good wash and full sun to dry.

Harionago (Barbed woman) 針女子
She’s beautiful and she loves to laugh, but her hair has a mind of its own. Each strand is tipped with a deadly barb and can reach through the air to capture its prey.

Hitodama (Human souls) 人魂
When a person dies, their spirit can soar to the sky in the form of a fireball. Eventually, when the fireball falls back to earth, it splatters everything in slime. The fireballs can be orange or blue or white and often appear just before a sick person dies.

Kara-kasa (Paper umbrella) 唐傘
Make sure you are kind to your umbrella! If you’re not, it could turn into a kara-kasa and hop around your house all day on its hairy leg. Umbrellas love to blow raspberries.

Kitsune (Fox) 狐
Young kitsune look like ordinary foxes, but the older they are, the more tails they grow, and the more powerful they become. When they have lived for a hundred years, they can change shape, even into human form. White foxes are linked to Inari, the god of rice. The fox’s favourite food is fried tofu.

Mokumokuren (Connected eyes) 目々連
Even walls can have eyes! Battered Japanese shōji (paper sliding walls) can be haunted by dozens of eyeballs. Don’t stare at them for too long: you can go blind.

Nukekubi (Cut-throat) 抜首
During the day you might mistake this yōkai for a normal person, but be warned. At night, while its body is sleeping, its head can detach and fly around hunting for delicious things to eat (like children and puppy dogs).

Nurarihyon (Slippery strange) ぬらりひょん
He’s bald, he likes to drink tea, and his head is enormous. Said to be the Leader of all yōkai, Nurarihyon can summon shockwaves of power with a flick of his fingers.

Nurikabe (Plastered wall) ぬりかべ
An invisible wall that blocks the path of those who approach it. If you try to walk around it, you’ll be walking a long time: the wall can extend forever.

Tsukumogami (Lost thing) 付喪神
Ever do a big clean and toss out all the things you no longer want? Beware! In a hundred years, they might spring up to seek their revenge. Tools, clothing, weapons, furniture…You name it, they can become tsukumogami.

Sagari (Hanging horse-head) 下がり
With sharp teeth and bloodshot eyes, this bizarre yōkai is a horse’s head that hangs upside-down like a bat. Usually found in trees, sagari love to drop on you unexpectedly.

Satori (Mind reader) 覚
He looks like a monkey, he smells like a monkey, and he eats like a monkey. But he can also read your thoughts.

Uwan (Disembodied voice) うわん
Usually nothing more than a sound, the uwan can be heard from inside an old building, but not from outside.

Yuki-onna (Snow Woman) 雪女
Tall, pale and icily beautiful, this yōkai is a spirit of the snow. She leaves no footprints, preferring to float above the ground, and she can disappear in a puff of cold mist.

Zashiki-warashi (House ghost) 座敷童
This mischievous yōkai haunts houses and usually appears in the shape of a child. If your house is haunted by a zashiki-warashi, count yourself lucky, but don’t forget to take good care of it. If your house ghost ever chooses to leave you, your luck will quickly end.

Do you have a favourite yōkai? If so, let me know…

Cheers and scary reading!

 


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Yokai featured in The Filth Licker

Cover for Takeshita Demons: The Filth LickerWoo hoo! Book three, Monster Matsuri, is out!!

Which reminds me…I’ve blogged before on yokai demons featured in book one of the Takeshita Demons series, but what about the others?

Let’s start with book two

With a name like The Filth Licker, you’ve got to expect at least one akaname to make an appearance. (And you’d be right! :-))

But who else is there?

Yokai featured in Takeshita Demons: The Filth Licker

Akaname (Filth Licker) 垢嘗
Great news: if you don’t clean your bathroom, the akaname will. He has frog-like skin, a long hairy tongue, and a fondness for slime, mould and rot. He likes to lick grimy bathrooms until they sparkle.

Ashi-magari (Leg turner) 足曲がり
The ashi-magari is a mischievous spirit that comes out at night to trip you up and slow you down. You might feel it winding around your ankles, or tugging at your legs, like the tail of an invisible animal.

Betobeto-san (Mr Footsteps) べとべとさん
Ever had the feeling that someone was following you? Or have you heard footsteps but turned around to see noone was there? Perhaps it was Betobeto-san, trying to get past you. He’s quite shy, so try standing to the side of the road and inviting him to go ahead.

Hitodama (Human souls) 人魂
If a person dies, their spirit can soar to the sky in the form of a fireball. When the fireball falls back to earth, it splatters everything in slime. Hitodama can be orange or blue or white, and often appear just before a sick person passes away.

Kama itachi (Sickle Weasels) 鎌鼬
Whirling with the winds and slicing through the night, the Sickle Weasels work in teams of three to slash at their enemies using long sickle blades that extend from their paws.

Keukegen (Fluffy Thing) 毛羽毛現
Small and fluffy doesn’t always equal cute and friendly. A keukegen looks like a small, furry dog, but it spreads disease and prefers to live in dark, damp places. When written with different characters, keukegen can also mean “an unusual thing that is rarely seen” (希有怪訝).

Kitsune (Fox)
Young kitsune look like ordinary foxes, but the older they are, the more tails they grow, and the more powerful they become. When they have lived for a hundred years, they can change shape, even into human form. White foxes are linked to Inari, the god of rice. The fox’s favourite food is fried tofu.

Kodama (Tree Spirit) 木魂
Kodama live inside ancient trees, mimicking the sounds of the forest and causing echoes to bounce through the woods. Their trees are often ringed with a sacred rope called a shimenawa. If you cut down a kodama’s tree, you’re in for some very bad luck.

Oni (Ogre)
Oni are famous for their mean looks and nasty personalities. They have bad hair, poor dress sense and spiky horns. And they like to eat people, which makes them very unpopular.

Satori (literally: Consciousness)
He looks like a monkey, he smells like a monkey, and he eats like a monkey. But he can also read your thoughts. The satori prefers to live in the mountains and can only be conquered if you empty your mind.

Suna-kake-baba (Sand-throwing woman) 砂かけ婆
Living high in the treetops of a lonely forest, the suna-kake-baba is a grumpy old lady who sprinkles sand on people as they walk by underneath.

Tofu kozo (Tofu monk) 豆腐小僧
Beware, hungry traveler: The tofu kozo is a young monk who wanders quiet country roads carrying a plate of fresh tofu. Although it looks delicious, often garnished with a maple leaf, the tofu is cursed, and those who eat it will start to rot.

Yamabiko (Ghostly valley echo) 幽谷響
Don’t you hate it when someone echoes everything you say? Don’t you hate it when someone echoes everything you say? That’s exactly what the yamabiko does. It lives in the mountains and pretends to be a real echo. Not very helpful. Not very helpful.

Stay posted for a sneak preview of the yokai featured in Monster Matsuri

Cheers and scary reading!

 


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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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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 😉 🙂

takeshitademons_blog-cover 4


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Awesome fun with Kappa and Tanuki

Kappa and Tanuki celebrate Christmas - DCcardWant to see just how ubiquitous yokai demons are in Japanese culture?

Check out the awesome tanuki and kappa animations and resources the Tokyo-Mitsubishi bank put together as part of an advertising campaign for their DC card.

The ads feature a shape-shifting tanuki and a (traditionally) blood-hungry kappa. And they’re very cute!

(I can’t imagine any Australian bank advertising their credit card using a vampire or werewolf, can you?)

But seriously, if you’re into cute, or you’re interested in Japanese culture, you should check out the animations in particular (an example here). They are super-cute and the manga-like voice bubbles are a great resource for learning Japanese.

Cherry blossum viewing with Kappa and Tanuki DC cardYou can download short movies, desktop art, icons and stationary templates.

Don’t forget to scroll through the menu at the bottom of each page for extra options.


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Yokai featured in Takeshita Demons

Cover for Takeshita Demons: The Filth LickerSubarashii! Yabai!
Takeshita Demons
Things are going super-well for Takeshita Demons at the moment.

The Filth Licker is ready for pre-order in the UK and Monster Matsuri is in its 50-millionth-draft-phase, so getting where I want it (YAY!).

If you have read Takeshita Demons you will know that Miku Takeshita and her pal Cait run into lots of mythological creatures from Japan, known as yokai (妖怪).

Below I’ve included a bit of historical info on some of them: is your favourite demon in Book 1? Or will you have till wait till The Filth Licker comes out to see what’s in store for Miku and Cait at school camp?

Happy reading!
And PS: You can pre-order The Filth Licker here and get free worldwide delivery plus 25% off: BARGAIN!

Amazake babaa (literally: Sweet sake woman) 甘酒婆
This yokai takes the shape of an old woman with a gentle voice, but don’t be fooled. If you answer the door when she knocks, chances are you’ll fall ill with chicken pox.

Ittan momen (Animated cotton) 一反木綿
Ittan momen are long bits of cloth that can come to life in the night. They love to tangle around your body and might even try to suffocate you, so keep an eye on your curtains.

 

Click on the noppera-bo to read about sightings of this demon in England!

 

Noppera-bō (Faceless ghost) のっぺら坊
Is the person sitting next to you really who you think they are? Noppera-bō are experts at pretending to be other people, and they love to cause trouble. Just when you least expect it their features can disappear, melting away to leave their face as empty as a blank page.

Nukekubi (Cut-throat) 抜首
During the day you might mistake this yokai for a normal person, but be warned. At night, while its body is sleeping, its head can detach and fly around hunting for delicious things to eat (like children and puppy dogs).

Nure-onna (literally: Woman of the Wet) 濡女
With the torso of a woman and the body of a snake, this fearsome yokai has wicked claws and a long forked tongue. She’s strong enough to crush a tree in the coils of her massive tail.

 

 

O-kubi (literally: Big Throat) 大首
If you’re ever staring up at the sky and spot an enormous head in the clouds, watch out! Spotting an o-kubi usually means something awful is just around the corner…

Sakabashira (literally: Inverted pillar) 逆柱
Did it happen by mistake? Or did someone do it on purpose? Whatever the reason, if some part of your house was built upside-down, your entire house is doomed to be haunted.

Yuki-onna (literally: Snow Woman) 雪女
Tall, pale and icily beautiful, this yokai is a spirit of the snow. She leaves no footprints, preferring to float above the ground, and she can disappear in a puff of cold mist.

Zashiki-warashi (House ghost) 座敷童
This mischievous yokai haunts houses and usually appears in the shape of a child. If your house is haunted by a zashiki-warashi, count yourself lucky, but don’t forget to take good care of it. If your house ghost ever chooses to leave you, your luck will quickly end.