Ogres, spirits, ghosts or demons.
In Japan, myths and folklore have survived since ancient times and into the present. Every fantastic or supernatural creature is attributed to a class called "yōkai".
Owing to the geological nature of the archipelago, the Japanese people are particularly exposed to the creative and destructive forces of the natural elements. The population is particularly attuned to Nature's rhythm and has maintained specific ties to the primary forces. The belief in mythical and irrational phenomena has had its place in the culture of mankind for millennia.
Some events elude human understanding; the gap is filled by emotions and imagination. This opens a door to parallel worlds, helping to explain inexplicable things, to overcome life's trials and tribulations, or to seek supernatural protection for the future. These beings, called upon for protection and support, manifest themselves in changing and masked forms, their character and nature ambiguous. Some apparitions are frightening, others inspire respect, others still are adored and solicited for their mercy and their empathy. Celebrated in the rites and traditions of rural folklore, the Yōkai have become popular during festivals and seasonal ceremonies.
The French photographer Charles Fréger has taken an interest in their effigy. To take their portrait, he places them in an original environment drawn from his imagination: a landscape chosen specially to support an expressive posture and choreographed gestures. He focuses on the visual potential of his motifs: "I am not an anthropologist," he says. "[...] It would be much too easy to say we are all the same." (1)
Neither the same, nor accompanied or haunted by one and the same Yōkai.
(English translation by Nadia Linden)
(1) « I am not an anthropologist, » he says. « It would be much too easy to say we are all the same. »
cité dans : Where Demons, Deities, and Spirits Come Alive - Charles Fréger's portraits of characters from traditional Japanese festivals introduce us to the beautiful and the bizarre. Dans "Picture Stories" de National Geographic, par Alexa Keefe.