Buson Yokai Emaki (蕪村妖怪絵巻)

"Buson Yokai Emaki" is a Japanese picture scroll of specters drawn by YOSA no Buson, a Haiku poet and painter during the middle of the Edo period.


Buson Yokai Emaki was said to be hung on a ranma (transom) of the Kensho-ji Temple in Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture where Buson resided. Based on that story, it is estimated that the Buson Yokai Emaki was painted during the period from 1754 to 1757, when Buson had been training as a painter in Miyazu, Tango Province (present Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture).

A total of eight works were created, some of which simply introduce the specters, while others describe their tales, giving an impression that Buson presumably drew specters that he had heard about while traveling across Japan.

Phantom images depicted by Buson, who was an excellent Haiga (simple paintings which accompany and interact with the 17-syllable poetic verse called haiku) artist, were characterized by their unique, cartoon-like painting style, rather than realistic depiction of grotesque specters. Most of the ghost pictures drawn during Medieval Japan were intended to be symbols representing terror and disasters. However, ghost pictures in the Edo Period, including these works of Buson's, were intended in many cases to be comical and familiar, showing an entertaining tendency and trying to enjoy specters as a fiction; something that can be similarly seen in modern specter comics.

Although the ownership of the original work is unknown, there is a reprinted edition published by Kitada Shisui Collection in 1928 that shows its contents.

[Original Japanese]