Takehara Shunsensai 竹原春泉斎 (active c. early 19th century)
Tōkaen Michimaro 桃花園三千麿 (fl. 1808–1841)
Picture Book of a Hundred Tales
(Ehon hyaku monogatari), vol. 2
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), 1841
Woodblock-printed book; ink and color on paper
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003
On the right page, Shunsensai and Michimaro discuss boat ghosts (fune yūrei). On nights of inclement weather, fune yūrei commonly appeared to humans in the guise of illuminated boats, fireballs, or human figures. They attempted to capsize their victim’s ship or board it and attack the crew. Methods to appease them included tossing food and other offerings into the water. Depicted here are the souls of soldiers from the Taira clan who died in 1185 during the Battle of Dan-no-ura, as recorded in the Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari, late 12th century).
Featured on the left page is a bean raccoon-dog (mame tanuki). Like foxes (kitsune), raccoon-dogs were popular shape-changing characters in supernatural literature. According to legend, a mame tanuki possessed a scrotum that could be unfolded to cover a large area. The mame tanuki could drape his scrotum over himself and thereby assume the appearance of other creatures or, as Shunsensai shows here, protect himself during a rainstorm. Mame tanuki were also shown transforming their testicle sacks into clubs, sleds, shop signs, fishing nets, boats, puppets, parade floats and even small buildings. Ironically, they rarely were shown in coitus; apparently, one of the purposes for which they did not use their sexual organs was sex.
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