Japanese monsters, and how to survive their wrath: YOKAI ATTACK

I just got my copy of Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide (Kodansha International), and it is essential reading for anyone who would prefer not be eaten alive by a giant, wrathful squid. Author Matt Alt, a bilingual, culturally fluent fellow who grew up in DC, also works as a translator, explains,

It's what we believe is the world's first English-language guidebook to surviving potential encounters with monsters of Japanese myth and legend. For generations they were believed to have stalked Japan's mountains, forests, fields, coastlines, and towns. And who's to say they still aren't around? Written and created by Hiroko and I, illustrated by the talented manga-ka Tatsuya Morino, it's the last guide to Japan you'll ever need.

The book is organized by yokai, letting you take in important characteristics like pronunciation, size, locomotion, prevalence, danger level, and habitat at a glance. But don't let the "datafile" format fool you: this sucker is dense. Every entry also contains abundant info about each creature's historical/cultural background and modus operandi -- handy for surviving potential close encounters. It isn't "fiction," isn't anime or manga -- it's a collection of anecdotes and conventional wisdom about the creatures, giving you a leg up on the many references to yokai that appear in Japanese literature, film, anime, slang, and even cuisine (another serving of Kappa Maki, my friends?)

Yokai Attack (Amazon), and website for the book with more info. BTW, Matt knows a thing or two about squid. (Thanks, Sean Bonner!)


  1. I think I would continue to lead a full life without ever knowing about the Shiri-Kajiri Mushi (Butt-Biting Bug). As Japanese monsters go, Godzilla is probably easier to make movies about.

  2. Once again, DnD geeks represent; we’ve been reading monster manuals for thirty years. (Yeah, yeah, Malleus Malificarum in the hiz-ouse too…)

  3. Yokai and Japanese folklore are one of my areas of interest (yes, I have the above book, plus some in Japanese, which I can’t actually read).

    /shameless self promotion

    Here are a few Japanese scrolls that I’ve stitched together in Photoshop from Japanese sites that display the scrolls in Zoomify panels (involving up to several hundred frames being stiched together)


    I have another scroll I’ve been working on, larger (in number of scan sections, not necessarily in size of the original scroll) than all of the rest. I haven’t finished or posted it yet, though.

    /shameless self promotion

    Also good to visit would be one of the resources mentioned on my page– http://www.obakemono.com.

  4. I knew about the kappa but the mentioning of this book is the first I heard of ancient japanese monster stories of giant squids specificaly.

    mario is sooo japanese myth without americans noticing!

    kappa = koopa
    giant squid = blooper.

    what the hell do the shy guys represent?

  5. I gave my sister the Dalek Survival Guide as an engagement present. No home should be without one!

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