Until the end of March 【Special offer appreciation price】
● Yokai Art Museum 01, 02, 05 Common Ticket Adult 1,500 yen Junior High School Student 800 yen ※ With Chokeshi Ema
● mystery solving attraction adult 1,500 yen junior high and high school student 800 yen
● Set ticket above Adult 2,000 yen Junior high / high school student 1,000 yen ※ With Chokeshi ema
● Huge Youkai Ceiling Picture Mononoke Mandala (Yokai Art Museum 05) Single Ticket Adult 1,000 yen * With Chokeshi Era
Please come to “Yokai Art Museum” in the labyrinth of the spring vacation!
Japan’s Curious Yokai
The concept of yokai is representative of the animistic roots of Japanese culture. In the modern age, however, yokai became entertainment products—or even entertainment itself.
Japan is an island country surrounded by sea and covered in rugged mountains. Since ancient times, the Japanese people have lived side by side with the perils that lurk in the natural environment. To protect their children from harm and deter them from straying into dangerous places, they invented fearsome yokai, supernatural creatures that inhabited the rivers, the sea and the forest depths.
In the past, daily life was demanding. Villagers had to do everything from tilling the fields, chopping wood, and lighting the fire to spinning thread and sewing their own clothes. Natural phenomena such as thunderstorms and typhoons, eclipses of the sun and the moon, strange noises or smells that shouldn’t be there—in other words, all things unpredictable and inexplicable—were distracting and anxiety-provoking. By deciding that these were the handiwork of yokai, however, people could put their fears aside and concentrate on getting their work done.
This perspective was greatly influenced by animism, the belief that gods or spirits reside in all things. The individual deities that were inspired by a reverence for nature and worshiped in shrines big and small, as well as the concept of yokai which encompassed all other supernatural phenomena, were thus deeply rooted in Japanese spirituality.
About 300 years ago, during the Edo period, cities in Japan grew and multiplied. Urban dwellers were more removed from the dangers and threats of the natural world and thus from yokai. Folktales dealing with supernatural phenomena were scientifically analyzed and dismissed as superstition, while oral traditions that had once struck fear in people’s hearts were rejected. Around the same time, however, yokai, which had been limited to the realm of language, were given concrete form in the works of Edo period ukiyo-e artists, who created dynamic woodblock prints and paintings of the lives of ordinary people. Yokai that lived in the imagination were the perfect subject matter. Reading for pleasure spread to the masses, and, through the medium of books, yokai became part of common culture.
Today, yokai have once again entered a new phase, taking shape as sculpture and figurines. Once symbolic of the human awe of nature, they have become a subject of entertainment, remaining part of Japan’s cultural DNA. Or, to put it another way, Japanese spirituality represented by animism continues to live on in yokai culture.
Shodoshima’s Yokai Art Museum has over 800 works depicting yokai by modern artists. For those who wish to experience the culture, spirituality and concepts of the Japanese people, the museum is a must-see.
Yokai live in all things.
Discover them within the old buildings that serve as museum spaces.
Rooted in Japanese spirituality and culture, yokai are free and fluid. These creatures, which lurk everywhere, are normally invisible to the naked eye, but at the Yokai Art Museums, they emerge and take concrete form. The four museums are housed in different buildings, each with its own theme and character. As you wander through, the presence of things unseen will tickle senses of which you were not even aware.
Yokai Art Museum
●Charge Adult 1,500yen /13～20age 800yen/under 12age free
●Open 10:00-18:00（last admissinon at 17:00）
●Closed Wednesday（except during summer breaks and statutory holidays that fall on Wednesday)
Yokai Art Museum 1
Built over a century ago when three-storied buildings were rare, this drapers’ warehouse has been restored with a playful touch as Yokai Art Museum 1. The first floor is currently dedicated to works by Yokai Artist Chubei Yagyu and the museum shop. The second and third floors display exceptional works selected from the Yokai Sculpture Contest. Outside towers a dynamic metal cylinder called Heisei Maze Spiral. The design on the iron exterior of this sculpture represents a map of this district, which is known as ‘maze town,’ while within it rises a spiral staircase joining heaven and earth. Step inside and see how far it goes.
Yokai Art Museum 2
Legendary Yokai and Tsukumogami
The building that houses Yokai Art Museum 2 was once used to store rice and soy sauce. At that time, the sea came right up to it, making it easy to load and unload cargo carried by boat. The ceiling and partitioning walls have been removed to expose the wooden posts and beams and make space for large works, and the earthen walls and floor absorb sound, giving the interior a hushed atmosphere. The gallery presents yokai from Japanese folklore, such as ogres, kappa, tengu, and tsukumogami, which are household items inhabited by spirits. Look forward to a little surprise when you walk inside.
Yokai Art Museum 4
Yokai Galore: Yokai Sculpture Exhibitions
The Yokai Sculpture Contest was launched in 2013, and entries are submitted from all over Japan. Yokai Art Museum 4 presents themed exhibitions using selected works from the current collection of over 800 sculptures. The rich diversity of the collection attracts visitors not only from Japan but from overseas as well. The museum building’s former life as a printing factory can be glimpsed in the wooden beams and the old-fashioned windows on the second floor.
The first floor also houses Mononoke-do, a shop which offers the largest selection of old-fashioned dime-store candy and vintage toys on the island. There’s also a carnival shooting gallery with prizes.
Yokai Art Museum 5
Yokai Ceiling Mural: Mononoke Mandala
To access this work, visitors must cross the Boundary of the Human World, a staircase plastered with yokai talismans. At the top yawns a dark, cavernous space. Stepping within the dimly lit room, the visitor gradually becomes aware of countless eyes watching from the ceiling. These Kanshisha or “watchers” were created by Chubei Yagyu, the director of the Yokai Art Museums. According to Chubei, “kanshisha” are helpful yokai that seek out and remove any malice or bad luck that clings to people in the room. If you peer closely, you will find yokai on the walls, pillars, and floor as well.
Director, Yokai Art Museums
Born and raised on Shodoshima, Yokai Artist Chubei Yagyu produces fantastical artworks through a mechanism in his brain that he calls his “yokai-making device.” He has held solo exhibitions in various parts of Japan, including Tokyo, Kyoto and Takamatsu, as well as in Taiwan, and has also exhibited at the Culture & Art Book Fair in Taipei. His yokai portraits, in which he depicts people’s inner self while talking to his subjects, are very popular. He serves on the jury for the Yokai Sculpture Contest and was appointed director of the Yokai Art Museums, which was established in February 2018 to make Shodoshima the world’s greatest yokai gathering spot.