Cristy Burne

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Japanese yokai memory game: test your memory, learn some Japanese and spook yourself out!

Want to hunt some yokai?

You’ve come to the right place! I’ve posted a new game:

It’s a ‘match-the-pairs’ challenge that uses the artwork of Toriyama Sekien.

Sekien is famous for his early depictions of Japanese monsters, better known as yokai.


It’s simple!

Use your mouse to click on any of the closed books: when you click, the book will open to reveal one of the yokai Sekien drew.

– If you find a pair, the books will stay open.

– If you don’t find a pair, the books will close and you must guess again.



Not only do you get to exercise your brain and have some fun, you also get to learn some more about Japanese demons, practise your hiragana and kanji, and SPOOK YOURSELF OUT!


(And huge thanks to my lovely and clever husband for making the game: what a champ!! xxx)

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Hiragana word search: Find the yokai demons and practise your Japanese

Want a fun way to practise your hiragana? Try this spooky hiragana wordsearch!

If you’re studying Japanese, then you alredy know that the Japanese language is written using three different alphabets: hiragana, katakana and kanji. Words can also be written in romaji, using the English alphabet.

This word search uses hiragana and features demons from spooky adventure story Takeshita Demons.

Can you find the yokai demons before they find Miku?

Head to the resources section of my website and you can download a PDF of the activity and its answer sheet.

Takeshita Demons hiragana word search: Find the yokai demons


ようかい                    溶解                Yōkai (demon)

ゆうれい                    幽霊                Yuurei (ghost)

みく                            未来                Miku (our hero!)

かず                           和                    Kazu (Miku’s brother)

たけした                    竹下                Takeshita (Miku’s family name)

かわにし                   川西                Kawanishi (where Miku lived in Japan)

ぬけくび                  抜け首            Nukekubi (cut-throat demon)

ぬれおんな              濡女                Nure-onna (woman of the wet)

さかばしら                逆柱                 Sakabashira (inverted pillar)

ざしきわらし             座敷童             Zashiki-warashi (house ghost)

ゆきおんな               雪女                Yuki-onna (snow woman)

おに                           鬼                    Oni (ogre)

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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.


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.

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My top five interview questions for Cristy Burne

Head over to Booked Up HQ to check out the great books available and explore their super new website.

I have a guest post on the Booked Up blog this week, about writing Takeshita Demons and being a writer, and hope that lots of kids will ask me lots of questions.

See you there!



Awesome kids site: Folk legends of Japan

I’ve just discovered a terrific site for kids (and big kids) interested in learning more about Japan: Kids Web Japan.

There’s a cool section on Japanese folk tales, including the Tongue-cut Sparrow, The Mouse’s Wedding, and Japan’s tale of star-crossed lovers, Tanabata. Plus, of course, my favourite folktale: Momotaro, the story of a boy born in a peach.

(When I was living in Japan, my third year students performed their own version of Momotaro at our school’s cultural festival, writing the entire script in English and performing to the whole school. It was brilliant!)(We also did Hashire Meros, based on a short story by revered Japanese author, Osamu Dazai.)

Anyway, back to this terrific site: You can learn about sumo, explore a virtual Japanese house, try your hand at cooking… It’s brilliant fun.

Working, writing, playing!
I’ve been flat out this week preparing for school visits next week (the last week of school – YAY!) and library visits (school holidays – YAY!) and I’m absolutely loving Monster Matsuri…it’s a funny, scary and exciting book…Just the sort of thing I love to read. I’m nearing the end of the first draft but I know there’s lots more work to do.

I love writing!!
But MAN…I love writing. It’s so cool to invent a world and people who live in it, and then spend ages playing with them. I used to love playing with lego (and we’ve just introduced Fergus to lego too…he thinks everything is an aeroplane), and writing is just like playing with lego. You get a few pieces (words) and plug them together in different ways (sentences), and then you play with them for hours. FUN!

Off for more of that then!


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Children’s Book Week – Key stage two activities

Takeshita Demons was featured in the 2010 Children’s Book Week pack with some ideas for key stage two activities. Below, I reproduce these ideas. If you’d like the pretty colour version, please download the booklet, activities, posters and more from the BookTrust site.


Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne (Frances Lincoln) is an exciting adventure story inspired by Japanese folklore and in particular the supernatural yokai – demons – which are a key part of Japanese culture, but little known outside Japan.  These activities explore stories of supernatural creatures from around the world.

Amazing imaginary creatures

Ah...but are they imaginary?

  • Give each child a large sheet of paper and ask them to design their own imaginary creature.
  • Let imaginations run wild: have a range of art materials available, or bring in old magazines and newspapers so children can use collage techniques to create magical creatures from pictures of animals, birds, insects and people.
  • Give creatures a name, and label them to show their unusual features or special powers. Make a display of the finished creatures.

Find out about folklore

  • Divide children into pairs or small groups, and assign each group a different supernatural creature from traditional folklore, legend or myth. Try the Loch Ness Monster (Scotland), the Yeti (Nepal and Tibet), the Phoenix (Greek myth) or the Banshee (Ireland); alternatively, children could choose their own creatures based on stories they have read.
  • Ask children to use the library or research online to find out more about their creature. What does it look like? What are its magical powers? Do they think it would be friendly or scary?
  • The last pages of Takeshita Demons suggest that there might be more adventures still to come. Ask children to continue the story by imagining that Miku and Cait now encounter their creature. What do they think would happen? Write and illustrate the story.