|Monster Art Show II: The Sazaeoni
|Written by Jonathan C. Wojcik - Thanks everyone who contributed art!
Seemingly thousands of oddball goblins, demons, spirits and
monsters populate Japan's traditional spook-story lore, known
collectively as "youkai" and ranging from such ancient figures
as the Tanuki to more modern urban legend like the
Slit-mouthed Woman. Some of these creatures were once
firmly believed to exist, while others made their debut in works
of art, poetry or riddles, taking on life of their own as cultural
icons that persist to this day.
Perhaps one of the greatest influences on modern Youkai
awareness was the artist Toriyama Sekien, who illustrated
over 200 creatures - both traditional and of his own design - in
a series of four books published in the late 1700's. Among
them, an outlandish-looking monster he called the Sazaeoni.
A "Sazae" is a distinct variety of sea shell belonging to a type of snail, also known as a "turban
shell" and even eaten as a delicacy, though this is hardly surprising since we're talking about
Japan and an animal that comes out of the sea.
In a humorous short story of indeterminate origin, a crew of pirates rescue a beautiful woman
mysteriously found drowning on the high sea. When they begin to argue over her, she agrees to
sleep with the entire crew...but removes their genitalia in the process. It's not quite clear how
exactly she does this, but she reveals her true form as a monstrous snail-beast, and returns the
pilfered extremities only in exchange for a share of the pirate's loot, or "gold for gold" as the joke
goes; a term for testicles in Japan is "kin tama" or "golden balls."
Click thumbnails for full-sized artwork and click submitter
names (where applicable) to see more of their creations!
In traditional Youkai lore, it seems that almost anything can transform into a monster under
certain conditions, and Sekien, for whatever reason, decided that the possibility of a Sazae
monster demanded illustration. Ever since, variations on the creature have cropped up
throughout Japanese monster culture, and though it's difficult to pin down how, the Sazaeoni has
adopted its own set of popularly recognized powers and characteristics well beyond Sekien's
|Sazae monsters from Digimon, Super Sentai and the definitive Youkai franchise, Gegege no Kitarou!