• Shona McCarthy

Japanese Ghost Story Mugs

(Images used with permission.)

Lockdowns might mean that Halloween can't be celebrated the usual ways this year. But for something a little different, I'll be creating a collection of mugs depicting famous Japanese Ghosts.

All of the images come from a collection of Ukiyo-e or Woodblock prints by Yoshitoshi. Yoshitoshi was an artist living in 1800's Japan. He created this collection of 36 images based on existing Japanese folklore. Many of the ghosts depicted are associated with real locations. Their stories often involve passion, revenge, murder and regret.

The first mug I've created and be seen HERE. It details the tragic story of Sakurahime and Seigen, two star-crossed lovers kept apart by death and fate... and yet somehow inseparable.

(Images used with permission.)

This story is typically told as a kabuki play. That it depicts a character born as a man and then reincarnated as a woman is particularly piquant, since all characters in kabuki are usually played by men. Kabuki performers who play women are usually carefully chosen and trained. They are known to study the movements of women and are sometimes even more feminine than women themselves. So, to see the character actually be a man and then a woman is fascinating. I also managed to find a trailer for a contemporary film version of the story:

The film seems to play up the sexual aspects of the legend and tell it as an action adventure. In my paraphrasing, I preferred underscore the emotions of the characters and to emphasise the darker elements of the tale. The mugs I'm designing will appear to be black, but then reveal the image and story when filled with hot liquid or exposed to heat. So it will be like a ghostly image appearing. I intend to go through all 36 prints with one a day onwards of September 20, excepting Sundays since that is the day I sabbath.

Make halloween 2020 spooktacular!!!

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