The man single handedly debunked myths in Japanese culture
Table of Contents
Yokai are monsters from Japanese folklore, described as talismanic. The first stories date back to the 8th century. Toriyama Sekien documented this folklore into a graphic encylopedia titled, The Illustrated Night Parade of a Hundred Demons, further solidifying their place in Japanese culture. This was the first time oral descriptions of these creatures came to life in pictures and unsurprisingly, was an instant hit among the masses. People explained the unknown by appealing to these Yokai.
Inoue Enryō took it upon himself to use the scientific method to bust these myths. He created an area of research called the Yokigau and with that became sort of a ghostbuster. His thorough work, to the dissatisfaction of some, quashed many erstwhile Japanese customs and traditions. This cultural shift was an immense driver of Japanese modernization post the Edo period.
I recommend the fascinating episode of 99% Invisible - The Return of Yokai, where I first learned this.
This story is very fascinating. In fact, it is very satisfying to me. It’s even relevant today in the age of fast information. We need more cynics and critics in the common masses. Not just for the sake of it, not for partisan politics, not for personal preferences, not for stakeholder satisfaction. But to make sure the right message reaches the most vulnerable groups, as is. Getting the delivery right is not enough, though. The receiving end should be analytical enough to process that information and appropriate it to their needs.
I want to be a mythbuster.