Monday, October 25, 2010

People, Monsters, Kids: Not Always What They Seem

Oh yes, it's an oni! Via.
We wrote about the OBAKE! costume party this Friday, but in addition, we have a Halloween treat just for the kids. Japan Society's Education Program invites children ages 3-10 to Meet Japan’s Mystical Folklore Creatures & Ghosts before the witching (i.e. trick-or-treating) hour on Sunday, October 31st.

Theatre Arts Japan -KIDS- debuts a new play written especially for this event, introducing the fantastical world of Japan's otherworldly creatures. In the story, a young man encounters a kind old woman on his way to light a lantern on a mountain top. When she invites him for tea, distracting him from his duties, the boy discovers she is not at all what she seems. He must turn to the mystical yokai  creatures in the woods and decide whether they are friend or foe and able to help him.

Among the throngs of Japanese beasties (there are literally hundreds), kids discover the tengu, a mysterious flying mountain creature; the kappa, a funky, frog-like river creature; the rokurokubi, a beautiful woman with a surprisingly long neck; and the ornery oni, who has the horns of a cow and the fangs of a tiger. After the theater performance, actors work with the children to create masks so they can transform into their favorite creatures from the show.

For our more adult  monster enthusiasts, we hope to see you at the Friday, October 29 OBAKE! party. In honor of both events, here's another update on a traditional Japanese ghost story, this time for the parents:

The weather outside is cold and rainy, so your kids and their friends are bound indoors. You put them in the playroom, promising sweet treats if they behave and play quietly. For a time, they play as quietly as they can, but slowly peals of giggles crescendo  from behind the door. When you go to check on them, they blame each other for moving things, tickling each other or playing little tricks—all of which each denies. As you leave, you hear a soft giggle, and turn around to see them all looking at you with wide eyes. Relative quiet ensues as you prepare the snacks, but total, eerie silence meets you when you walk back into the room. What are they up to? And did you see one of them duck under the table? You shake your head, but take a quick peek when you set the treats down. Your eyes must be playing tricks on you. As you start to divide the treats, a ghostly little hand grabs one. You follow the hand, past the silken translucent sleeve, to the face of a small girl in a pink kimono, nibbling on a cookie. She smiles, crumbs falling to the floor and disappears. Your child's new playmate is a Zashiki Warashi.

S.H., S.J.

No comments: