Today, April 4th, as Tokyo experienced its first natsubi (夏日 literally "summer day") when temperatures reach 25 degrees Celsius, many people began entertaining thoughts of summer and summer activities. In Japan, one of the traditional ways of staying cool is to send chills down your spine by listening to kaidan (怪談 "horror stories") about ghosts and yokai, supernatural monsters, spirits and demons from Japanese folklore.

For fans of all things scary in Japan, the usual summer slew of activities is getting an early start with a special exhibition, one of the highlights of which is a rare chance to see the last taxidermy specimen known to exist in Japan of a very particular demon.

One of the prized possessions of novelist, scriptwriter and renowned collector of curiosities and monstrosities Hirokatsu Kihara, the taxidermy specimen which will undoubtedly draw a crowd to the exhibition when it opens on April 21st is that of a kudan, a human-faced bovine yokai.

According to the press release, kudan are believed to be able to prophesize the future. For this reason, their likeness was traditionally drawn on talismans to ward off evil and bring good luck. A special Yokai Shrine will be set up in the exhibit with the kudan displayed as the shintai (神体 "body of the kami").

Those who want to benefit from its protection will be able to take a Polaroid picture posing together with it (at a cost of 500 JPY).

Yokai and Japanese traditional visual arts enthusiasts may also flock to the exhibit for a chance to see, for the very first time in a public exhibit, the picture scroll Night Parade of a Hundred Demons 百鬼夜行絵巻, a color print of Tales of Shiranui 白縫譚 and other rare items provided by ethnographer Koichi Yumoto, proud owner of the largest collection of yokai-related items in Japan.

If you're not so enthused by taxidermy specimens and spooky curiosities and more interested in kaidan, you may appreciate Katsushika Hokusai's prints from his famous series One Hundred Ghost Stories, such as Bancho Sarayashiki and The Ghost of Oiwa (below), also on loan from the Koichi Yumoto archives.

The latter is also commonly known as Yotsuya Kaidan, since the haunted shrine of Oiwa, which we covered earlier this year, is in the neighborhood of Yotsuya, Tokyo, and open to the public, if you dare to make a visit.

Meanwhile, this spooky exhibit, sponsored by Aichi Television Broadcasting and featuring art, curiosities and mummified remains of supposed yokai, runs from April 21st to May 13th on the 8th-floor East Building gallery of the PARCO Department Store in Nagoya.

For more details (in Japanese), you can view their website here.

By - Ben K.