The Ghostly Yokai Illustrations of Katsushika Hokusai

Tommie Trelawny of the obscure art channel Hochelaga takes a look at the ghostly Yokai illustrations created by renowned Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, creator of “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”.

Whilst the Japanese printmaker Hokusai is best known for his masterpiece “Under the Wave off Kanagawa”, dig a little deeper and you’ll find his wonderfully eerie ghost illustrations.

The Ghosts of Hokusai

Trelawny explains, that as Hokusai got older, he became interested in Japanese folklore. This led to the artist’s sublime illustrated series entitled One Hundred Ghost Stories. These illustrations featured supernatural characters from Yokai storytelling.

As he grew into his old age, Hokusai became more and more interested in the supernatural. He spent much of his time making prints featuring frightening ghosts from folklore. Or as they are referred to in Japan, Yokai. Yokai are weird and mysterious beings. Eerie apparitions that inhabit supernatural Japan. There s no word in English that accurately conveys the meaning of Yokai,  in Japanese the term refers to things that are both strange and beautiful.

Trelawny also shares his incredible admiration for the artist.

You might be able to tell by now,  but Hokusai is one of my favourite  artists and whilst his woodblock  landscapes get the most praise,   there s something so wonderfully  eerie about his ghost prints.There is nothing quite like them, so animated  and strange. Through his spectral Yokai,  Hokusai hint at wonders, and horrors,  that lurk behind our everyday lives.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.