You may have seen on Japanese woodblock prints and manga, that household objects are depicted as lively characters with facial features and limps.  What's the story behind?

Tsukumokami つくも神

Deity of Objects

You may have seen on Japanese woodblock prints and manga, that household objects are depicted as lively characters with facial features and limps.  What's the story behind?

 Tsukumokami 

In the craft world of Japan, it is believed that the older (or more used) an object is, the more soulful it becomes.  The saying is, if an object existed for a 100 years, it will grow a soul from within and become Tsukumokami, a monster/deity.  It could happen to any object including pots and pans, lanterns, umbrella, farm tools, clogs etc…

The legend of Tsukumokami started in Pre-Edo period when Japan was still trading with foreign countries and had access to abundant imported goods.  People stopped appreciating their possessions and dispose anything used and worn in the alley.  Older generations understood the virtue of thriftiness believed these Tsukumokami would return to haunt those who show no respect for the objects that had serviced human beings.

 

Folklore also tells stories about people discarding old and used objects in the alley from annual Spring cleaning.  These abandoned objects became angry and turned into goblins on the night of Setsubun (Spring Day) to create mayhem and devour their owners.

Photo credit: Kyoto Shunju 京都春秋

Famous 14th-17th century scroll paintings ひゃっきやぎょう (Night Parade of 100 Ghosts) depicting Tsukumokami and other monsters in action, parading the streets at night.   This rare scroll painting is currently on special exhibition at Kyoto Shinjuan Temple until 11/23/2020. If you happen to be in Kyoto, don't miss it!

Admission information here.

 

REDUCE. REPAIR. RECYCLE. REUSE

 

Renew your appreciation for hand-crafted goods. Please join the movement of "Mottainai".   

Ghibli Studio's anime Pom Poko, released in 1994 , featured racoon-dogs Tanuki playing tricks on human.  They have magical power to change forms, so they performed the 100 Ghosts Parade on the street trying to scared human beings away from destroying their natural habitat forest.

This story is about finding balancing nature and urban development, and respect the environment.   This particular scene (at 10'43") animated Tsukumokami (Deity of Objects) well.

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