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Publisher's Summary

Monsters, ghosts, fantastic beings, and supernatural phenomena of all sorts haunt the folklore and popular culture of Japan. Broadly labeled yokai, these creatures come in infinite shapes and sizes, from tengu mountain goblins and kappa water spirits to shape-shifting foxes and long-tongued ceiling-lickers. Currently popular in anime, manga, film, and computer games, many yokai originated in local legends, folktales, and regional ghost stories.  

Drawing on years of research in Japan, Michael Dylan Foster unpacks the history and cultural context of yokai, tracing their roots, interpreting their meanings, and introducing people who have hunted them through the ages. In this delightful and accessible narrative, listeners will explore the roles played by these mysterious beings within Japanese culture and will also learn of their abundance and variety through detailed entries on more than 50 individual creatures. The Book of Yokai provides a lively excursion into Japanese folklore and its ever-expanding influence on global popular culture. It also invites listeners to examine how people create, transmit, and collect folklore, and how they make sense of the mysteries in the world around them. By exploring yokai as a concept, we can better understand broader processes of tradition, innovation, storytelling, and individual and communal creativity.

©2015 The Regents of the University of California (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about The Book of Yokai

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Very Interesting

The information was quite interesting, but I was hoping the bestiary would be muuuuch longer than it was. It took up a very small portion of the book and covered fewer yokai than I would have liked. Otherwise a terrific book though!

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Very disappointing

The book spends most of its time talking about the modern and historical study of various mythical creatures and monsters. The actual discussion of yokai is limited to a handful of them in a single chapter. Found more useful information on line than I did in this book that is supposed to be dedicated to the subject.

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Educating, Informative, Engaging

Good overview of history, cuture and current happenings around every thing yokai in Japan and elswhere

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  • Julieanne
  • 2019-06-04

Pt 2 was delightful (+no cringey pronunciations!!)

I think one's opinion on this entire book as a whole will be based on on how much you already know about Yokai before reading this book and/or what you want out of the listening experience.

Personally, I'm fascinated with Yokai and knew a fair amount about them, so I really wanted a book compiling different Yokai and the lore/tales associated with them.

I would say the 2nd part of this audiobook (The Yokai Codex) delivered on this. The author gives brief summaries of each Yokai, usually including what they're believed to look like, their behavior/purpose, and if they've been portrayed in any famous media (books/anime/video games/a LOT of Studio Ghibli/etc.). I really loved how the Yokai were separated into different categories of where they were known to occur (Wilds, Water, Countryside, Village & City), it really organized them and kind of installed a curiosity of how these Yokai might interact with one another!

The 1st part of the book (Yokai Culture) was much more focused on... something else? I would say if you've never been exposed to Yokai or Japanese culture in any shape or form, the first part of the book will really help you understand the cultural reasoning/merit behind Yokai. Most of this section is just the author talking about his experiences in researching this book, which (no offense intended to Foster because he did a GREAT job compiling and translating this rather isolated lore) was kind of boring and dry at times.
To be honest, I definitely would've skipped the 1st half of this book had I known the actual Yokai stories were in the 2nd half.



All in all, this book was a nice summary of Yokai! My only comments are
1) For one or two Yokai, I really wish there had been more in-depth information provided. Some had too brief of summaries to really understand their "character" or purpose within the world of Yokai. It also would've been interesting to hear about the relationships between different Yokai, in the same vein as Roman/Greek mythology (assuming there's any evidence of hypothetical interactions)
2) It would've been convenient if Audible had bookmarks within the audiobook to be able to locate each individual Yokai for future re-listening


P.S. Last note- The narrator did an AMAZING job, thank you SO MUCH for getting someone who could actually pronounce Japanese!! It saved the listener from 9 hours of cringe (& it even helped me realize a few puns/connections between yokai names and certain characters/product names because of the correct pronunciation!)

23 people found this helpful

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  • richard
  • 2019-11-23

Almost complete

I really quite enjoyed this audiobook, and have no criticism of it, except that there is so much description of the yokai that it would have been VERY, VERY nice to have had a supplemental attached PDF with pictures.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Vampire Enthusiast
  • 2020-09-01

thanks, i hate it

I just rage-quit. I am halfway done and only ONE creature has even been seriously mentioned. It was brief and then was quickly buried under how-to-gather the information details, and how difficult and time consuming it is...

This sounds like the author is just patting himself on the back—which is deserved—but come on. Get to the gd yokai. Stop talking about yourself.

I’ve tried slowing the voice down, speeding it up. And nothing makes it any easier to listen to. The mans voice just made me irritated, irrationally so. If I heard one more “I, I, I, I,” I was about to scream.

I’ll admit that ᴍᴀʏʙᴇ this wouldn’t have been so bad if I had gotten the paper version. That’s a big maybe. A seriously doubtful maybe. But I’ll admit it exists.

I regret using my credit on this and will be exchanging this with another book asap.

4 people found this helpful

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  • andrew pappas
  • 2020-02-12

A top notch study on Yokai

This book is more than a encyclopedia of yokai, but a insight into their nature

3 people found this helpful

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  • LH3748
  • 2020-01-12

Endless Terminology

It's a research paper not a book. And is worse in audio than would be in book form, endless terminology.

1 person found this helpful

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  • TheBookWasBetter
  • 2019-07-30

Not about Japanese yokai stories

This book isn’t about any yokai stores at all. It’s about some guy going to places in Japan and thinking about yokai. That about sums this up.

8 people found this helpful

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  • the_tark
  • 2022-02-01

Yokai through the eyes of a tax attorney

Only this guy could make such a normally delightful subject this dull. It’s like a talent. I’m beginning to suspect that this book was written by a yokai— the yokai that bores his victims to death

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-09-09

informative but uneven

a decent resource for the academic history of Yokai as covered by the first half of the book, however I found the second half to be weaker and much more of a surface level look at actual Yokai mythology and lore

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  • Wizard
  • 2021-09-06

Self important filler nonsense

I really wanted to find something to like in here, but if there was any yokai folklore, then it was buried deep. I couldn't wade through the author's meandering self importance. Attention is paid to research on when and where folklore originates, on analysis of cultural interest from a relatively uninformed perspective, and on fetishism of the air of mystery and creepiness surrounding yokai. More attention is paid to this guy, going to a place and thinking about yokai a and how they're cool and mysterious, and dumping out the dry research he found somewhere bc he knew less when he started writing this than you probably do when you start reading. I couldn't find a decent description of any yokai, or any stories involving them.

If you want a lore book, you are definitely baking up the wrong tree. Even the codex at the back was dry, unfocused, and meandering.

Even if all you want is a history of the development and dispersal of yokai folklore, the only thing this author writes competently, I'm certain you can find one more suited to your needs, with fewer hair pulling descriptions of some the author's own incredibly banal thoughts.

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  • Jav Gloria
  • 2021-08-19

pdf would be a great addition

Providing an pdf with further references or some examples of yokais explain would be of great value