A very quick sketch of my new updated look for the Fox Demon, Kurako — she’s got short hair now, which I think is more sexy and less obvious than the previous long hair version.
I’m doing a series of drawings based on common Japanese work/culture identities. Otaku (sometimes called ‘wotaku’ ヲタク), Cabaret hostess, Yankee, Chinpirat, Salaryman, Cosplayer, Gyaru. Starting off here with Otaku Rat WIP.
When we first got Mana & Lucy in 2019 (gosh, that long ago!), they were fearful of us and did the “helicopter tail” every time we picked them up, to signal their discomfort. We knew that from the perspective of a baby rat, we might as well have been the giants from Attack on Titan, so we had to think of ways for them to associate our massive hands with food, pleasure, safety.
The obvious way to do so was to slather baby food on our fingers. Unfortunately, I tried to pet their faces more than once while covered in goo, and that probably left a lifelong distaste among at least one of our ratties. #fancyrats #rats
It’s a small discovery and this is definitely not the best example of my work but I learned while making Christmas cards for loved ones in December that this is the activity that relaxes me the most. Illustrating and creating small cards for people I appreciate in my life.
My mother お母さん gave me one of the most precious memories in my entire existence by saying how marvellous she found my drawings, (I drew one a lot more detailed than this one for her, putting into illustrations all the small objects that defined me and my brothers’ childhoods) and how they transported her to a dream-like world 夢の国みたい。For me that’s really the most precious gift I could have. To know that my art isn’t meaningless, that it does do something for someone.
And now, after 4 hours of sleep , I’m going to find a good gift for her birthday.
My Christmas card to a cafe owner who always treats me well. It’s a bit out there, but I’ve learned not to be too self-conscious about my work.
I’ve ordered a new book – Kyosai Kawanabe’s prints. They’re gorgeous, gory, and utterly fascinating. I showed my partner and within the third page or so there’s a graphic of a guy having full on anal intercourse with another guy, then a beheading, then a giant cat with two tails. It’s a fun and terrifying visual journey and good inspiration for my story.
Of my two female rats (sisters), Lucy is the perennially shy one that still acts like it’s an alien abduction when I try to pick her up. She treats me — her Rat Mom — mostly like a creepy older male co-worker and runs away when I try to pet her, but lately I’ve found something that helps her enjoy my company a bit more.
She really, really enjoys being talked to. I noticed that when I sit about a foot away on the floor, at eye level or lower, and just whisper sweet nothings to her, her whole body relaxes and she starts bruxing and boggling in happiness.
So lately, I’ve been reading stories to her, chatting about daily goings-on, and paying her compliments like “You’re so pretty” and “Such a good cute rat!”
But those topics got old, fast, so I update her a lot about political news.
Needless to say, it looks very weird to outsiders.
Jigoku Tayuu （地獄太夫）, the “Hell Courtesan,” is a character who has been fascinating for me since I first read about her in high school or university.
Known as the daughter of a Samurai (therefore of noble blood) of the Muromachi Period in Japan (1336 to 1573) Jigoku Dayuu was apparently abducted while young and forced to work as a high-class tayuu (太夫), or high-class courtesans.
She lamented her fate, and didn’t dress in the gorgeous kimonos that were the standard of courtesans — she wore a kimono depicting hellish images, fire, skeletons, blood. It was dark imagery, but she was legendary for her beauty regardless, and was once visited by the famous Buddhist Monk Ikkyu, who was impressed by her wisdom and strong character.
It was said that they exchanged some witty one-liner observations about their respective social positions, and became friends afterward.
Jigoku Tayuu died young (of course!) and famously left behind instructions not to cremate her or bury her, but to “simply leave her body in the fields to feed the bellies of starving dogs.” A compassionate, wonderful thought. But, it’s said that she was buried anyway with respect and not left for the dogs to eat, which she actually would not have considered an insult.
She might be too dark for a YA book. But I’m strongly considering her as a key character in my yokai fantasy.