A Japanese Folk Tale: Okiku ~ Lines

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Lines for Okiku, the wronged maiden of the ten plates

Hair and more hair, that’s what can be summarized from the illustration of Okiku, twists and turns made quite the therapy to carefully ink and “sculpt”.

In case you missed it, the coloured finished version and her ghostly story is waiting for you at a previous post: A Japanese Folk Tale: Okiku.

★Have a great week and stay inspired!★

A Japanese Folk Tale: Okiku

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The relief of the word “ten”

Okiku or “Banchou Sarayashiki” (The Dish Mansion at Banchou) is one of the most popular ghost stories in Japan and as expected, has several versions. Within all of them we settled for its folk version.

The story tells us of a beautiful girl serving a samurai called Aoyama Tessan, who constantly made advances towards her and every time was met with refusal.
Tired of her resistance, he plotted to make her accept him through a cruel plan where he accused her of losing one of the family treasures, a Delftware plate from a set of ten.
Haunted by the terrifying fate of such an offence -none other than death itself- Okiku desperately counted the plates time after time but to no avail as there was no tenth plate, no matter how many times she recounted them.
Under the guilt she confessed to Aoyama, in tears, and was received with an offer of him disregarding her wrongdoing if she gave in and became his lover. Okiku once again refused him, and this infuriated him to the point of throwing her down a well as punishment and killed her.

The story says that due to that unfair death, Okiku turned into a ghost who haunted her murderer. Counting up to nine, then shrieking loudly, agonizing, unable to find the missing plate.
It is told that her haunting was broken by an exorcist who shouted “ten”, just before her shriek after her usual count. Finally finishing the set and releasing her from the fixation on the missing plate.

Other versions involve the anger of a jealous wife, another one where she finds out a plot from her master against his lord and contributing to dismantling it, unfortunately all the versions have her die and return as a ghost.

The most romantic version is where Okiku is actually guilty of breaking the plate, hoping that her lover proves his devotion for her, but instead she is killed when confessing that it was intentional. When appearing as a ghost, the beauty and calm displayed on her face instead of ugly and vengeful feelings reaches out and touches his heart, leading him to commit suicide (seppuku) to join her in death.
Romantic?… Yes.
Right-minded?… Well, Love and Passion are complicated matters. We’ll just leave it at that.

★Stay inspired★

A Japanese Folk Tale: Dodomeki ~ Lines

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We previously shared a teaser and then the finished illustration of our original vision of the youkai Dodomeki , and today we want to share with you the lines under the colours.

Lines have been done traditionally in ink with a mix of pens and a brush pen. The slight colour has been done digitally.

★Stay inspired!★

Japan Day Fan Girl

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Hello everyone,
Here’s an illustration that we did back in the day, specifically for celebrating Japan’s Day here in Portugal.
This one alludes to Japanese Fan Dancing, which has always been something quite beautiful to watch. The patterns and colours that invite your eyes to dance along with such graceful and calculated motions that the dancer and the fan start confusing your notion where one ends and the other begins. It’s truly fascinating when done by those who master it!

★Have a great weekend and stay inspired!★

A Japanese Folk Tale: Yuki Onna Wip

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In fear of the Yuki Onna’s wrath from knowing we have two Japanese Yuki Onna themed movies lined up but haven’t come around to watch them, we thought it would be a good idea to share with you the sketch stage of the Yuki Onna illustration as an appeasing resource (inking and light colouring was done digitally).

The weather is also getting better over here, which makes us wonder: do Yuki Onna yokai hibernate during spring?…

★Have a great weekend and stay inspired!★

A Japanese Folk Tale: Dodomeki

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When words can move corrupt creatures

Onward with the folklore!
Today is for the yokai named Dodomeki.
The name roughly translates to “many eyed” demon and it’s quite the literal translation as the transformation into a Dodomeki happens when young women give in to the temptation of stealing money and as a consequence, small bird eyes spout from their skin.
The name comes from a series of word plays and to explain it better, here’s an excerpt from yokai.com:

The copper coin, or dōsen, had a hole in the middle of it, and was colloquially known as a chōmoku, or “bird’s eye,” due to its shape.
The phrase ashi ga tsuku is a common idiom which means “to catch someone who has committed a crime.” Very clever readers would have noticed that if the word ashi, which can also mean money, is replaced with chōmoku, which can also mean money, the phrase changes to mean “covered in bird eyes.”

The story tells of an oni spotted causing havoc around a horse graveyard at night, to which the lord of those lands -Fujiwara no Hidesato- quickly ran to fight off.
As the demon appeared, ten foot tall and covered in glowing eyes, Hidesato shot an arrow to the brightest eye making the oni run away, only to collapse near the Mount Myoujin (in Nara).
Giving chase, Hidesato witnessed as a burst of flame was released from the Dodomeki’s body and poisonous gas escaped from the mouth. Unable to keep up the fight due to the poisoned air and heat, Hidesato had to flee. The next day when he returned, there were only remains of heavily burnt ground, with no sight of the Dodomeki.

400 years passed, and a priest named Chitoku was responsible for the investigation of unexplained fires at the temple of a town near the Mount Myoujin. Whenever the priest gave his sermons, he noticed the presence of a woman under a robe that would approach the temple and by confronting her she admits her identity to be the Dodomeki that once disappeared in that same area where the temple was built.
By scaring the priests with the fires, bit by bit the Dodomeki had the opportunity to regain the blood it spilled and toxic fumes that were once released when wounded in the past.
But despite the original intent, feeling enlightened by overhearing the powerful sermons of Chitoku, the Dodomeki vowed to do no evil ever again and since then the name Dodomeki was given to the area around Mount Myoujin.

With this illustration we sketched and inked traditionally and added the colouring digitally. You can see the lines on this post!
In our own version of the Dodomeki tale, even if only platonic, we wonder if there was a spark when power met with power on opposite ends of the scale.

★Have a great weekend everyone, stay inspired★