Yokainoshima

yokai1Charles Fréger, the photographer whose gorgeous portraits of European mumming traditions have made the rounds of the internet for the past couple years (from his book Wilder Mann), is about to release a new book covering similar types of costumes and customs from Japan, collectively referred to as yokai. Those familiar with European mumming will see a lot of similarities, at least visually, in the Japanese examples, from demon masks to straw men to animal suits to ancient clowns. I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on this new book and exploring the images as intensely as I have those from Wilder Mann.

“In many instances, these customs are kept alive by families or clubs who gather to make the costumes each year. Many of them center around temples, Fréger says, where the costumes are carefully stored in elaborate boxes….The one challenge he faced was groups being restrictive about where they were willing to be photographed, or being unwilling to be photographed at all. But for the most part, his interest was seen in a positive light. In areas of Japan that are becoming depopulated, bringing attention to these festivals and customs are a way of keeping them alive and perhaps also generating outside interest.”

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