Japan is notorious for its variety of ghosts, demons, and monsters, generally known as “yōkai.” Featured in a current exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, these creatures have played a significant role in Japanese heritage and popular culture. For centuries, people painted them, printed them, played with them, performed them, wore them on their clothing, and they continue to do so today. Curator Felicia Katz-Harris explains traditional yokai art and folklore and considers their persistent presence in the modern world.
Felicia Katz-Harris is the senior curator and curator of Asian folk art at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. Her exhibitions include: Yōkai: Ghosts & Demons of Japan; Tako Kichi: Kite Crazy in Japan; Folk Art in Focus; and the award-winning Dancing Shadows, Epic Tales: Wayang Kulit of Indonesia. Katz-Harris authored books on these subjects as well as articles on Thai spirit houses, material religion in Asia, and Asian folk art.