Message from Mizuki Shigeru’s Family

Shigeru Mizuki and his Family

Translated from the official statement:

“My father is dead.”

I still can’t believe I am saying those words.

“I’m going to live to be a 100 … no, maybe 120 or so.” That’s what Mizuki used to always say. With the advance of every year he got closer to that number, and we just thought he would keep going on forever.

At the end of last year, he suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital for two months. He came back home in February but was confined to a wheel chair. His body was weakened by the experience, but his spirit was as strong as ever. He improved bit by bit, until he was able to walk again. Eventually with rehabilitation, he could walk the 1 kilometer from the house to his office. And then his appetite returned, and he was able to say his favorite words “We got anything good to eat?”

“The gods decide when the end is, and we must abide by that,” Mizuki would say. He thought the best thing was to move on was peacefully without pain, and surrounded by family.

When he fell at his house (NOTE: the fall that eventually lead to his death), it was devastating. But perhaps that was the gods’ decision as well.

To my father, his family was the most important thing in the world. Even now he will continue to watch over us and protect us. And perhaps now he is in the company of his old comrades-in-arms who have welcomed him home.

A final message to his fans and everyone he worked with.

For a long time, you have supported our father. From our hearts, thank you.

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Otsukare, Sensei—Goodbye to Mizuki Shigeru

Shigeru Mizuki in Hat

There is nothing sad about the death of Mizuki Shigeru. And I say this as someone who shed more than a few tears when I heard the news last night. He lived about as good a life that could possibly be lived; the ripe old age of 93; wealthy in every way that matters; respected by his peers; beloved. He died a good death. The only thing that is sad is that the rest of us now have to live in a world that doesn’t have Mizuki Shigeru. And we are poorer for it.

mizuki3

To say that Mizuki Shigeru was a comic artist is like saying the Brothers Grimm crafted a quaint book of fairy stories or that Walt Disney made some cartoons. Mizuki was one of those rare human beings who unequivocally changed the world with his art. Without Mizuki the world—and especially Japan—would be a very different place. There would be no Pokémon, no Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. His presence is so ubiquitous as to be almost unnoticeable. The way Mizuki saw the world has become the world. He saved the spirits and magic he loved from the darkness and gave them a new home.

Shigeru_Mizuki_Peru_Snakes

He was a visionary. A philosopher. A radical. A bon viviant of the mundane. Mizuki relished the simple, sheer joy of being alive. As someone who knew the actual soul destroying pains of hunger and the terror of hanging from a cliff by your fingertips while hiding from an enemy patrol, a cheap hamburger in a full belly brought him more delight than the most expensive piece of handcrafted sushi. He believed in taking it easy, in enjoying life, and often scoffed at manga artists like Osamu Tezuka and Fujiko F Fujio who prided themselves on their hard work and long hours. They’re all dead, he would say, but I’m still here.

Young Shigeru Mizuki

Of course, he was a comic artist, and one of the best the world has ever seen. He was a natural born artist—a true prodigy who, like Picasso, could draw untaught with amazing precision before he could barely read. His teachers arranged his first solo exhibition of his works when he was in Elementary school. Mizuki himself often downplayed his talents, as he did everything about himself. But he was an undeniable genius. Coming back from WWII an arm short, it took him many years to rebuild his ability to its previous level, but his art grew like a tidal wave as he moved from kamishibai, to manga, to gekiga, to his yokai encyclopedias.

mizukishigeru_drawing

I am sure there will be no shortage of articles recapping his extraordinary career. So instead I will give you something of Mizuki the philosopher.

Mizuki Shigeru’s Seven Rules of Happiness.

#7 – Believe in what you cannot see – The things that mean the most are things you cannot hold in your hand.

#6 – Take it easy – Of course you need to work, but don’t overdo it! Without rest, you’ll burn yourself out.

#5 – Talent and income are unrelated – Money is not the reward of talent and hard work. Self-satisfaction is the goal. Your efforts are worthy if you do what you love.

#4 – Believe in the power of love – Doing what you love, being with people you love. Nothing is more important.

#3 – Pursue what you enjoy – Don’t worry if other people find you foolish. Look at all the people in the world who are eccentric—they are so happy! Follow your own path.

#2 – Follow your curiosity – Do what you feel drawn towards, almost like a compulsion. What you would do without money or reward.

#1 – Don’t try to win – Success is not the measure of life. Just do what you enjoy. Be happy.

Mizuki Shigeru Family off to War

Mizuki Shigeru was in every way my hero. It has been my great honor to translate my hero’s comics, and share my love of him. I made a vow almost 10 years ago in a friend’s bar that I would bring this unique genius to the English-speaking world, and with Drawn & Quarterly I have made good on that vow.

I am so happy that I was able to do this while he was still alive; it seems too often we only recognize great artists posthumously. One of my favorite photos is Mizuki holding the copies of Showa: A History of Japan that I translated, along with the Eisner Award they won for him. I now hope that we will continue to bring even more of his great legacy to a wider audience. He had so much to share.

mizuki-2015comicon01

As for Mizuki himself, he did not fear death, and saw it as a natural part of a world that was full of mystery and wonder. Decades ago he designed and commissioned his own tomb, which he has referred to in interviews as his new home.

Mizuki Shigeru New Home

He would often make jokes that he would be moving into his new home soon. I hope he finds it as comfortable and jolly as he had hoped. I am sure he is enjoying his well-earned rest amongst his yokai friends. They have been waiting for him for a long time.

お疲れ様でした、先生。 Goodbye, Teacher.

Zack Davisson

Mizuki Shigeru Rest in Peace

(Art by my friend Benjamin Warner. Thanks for that, Ben. You made me cry again, you jerk. But it’s beautiful.)

Here are Mizuki Shigeru’s works in English as currently available. If you haven’t already, please give them a try. The more you read, the more we can make.

NonNonBa
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths
Kitaro
Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan (Showa: A History of Japan)
Showa 1939-1944: A History of Japan (Showa: A History of Japan)
Showa 1944-1953: A History of Japan (Showa: A History of Japan)
Showa 1953-1989: A History of Japan (Showa: A History of Japan)
Shigeru Mizuki’s Hitler
The Birth of Kitaro
Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon
Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels

Shigeru Mizuki Ends Watashi no Hibi (My Everyday)

Mizuki_Shigeru_My_Everyday

Translated from Yahoo! Japan News

93-year old manga artist Shigeru Mizuki—creator of Gegege no Kitaro and numerous other comics—announced the sudden end of his comic Watashi no Hibi (My Everyday). The comic was being serialized in Big Comics. The 10th issue of Big Comics will be the final installment.

Mizuki announced the comic on his 91st birthday. Serialization began that year, in December of 2013. With its publication, he became the oldest practicing manga artist. This drew massive media attention. However on May 9th, 2015, Big Comics announced: “It’s an abrupt ending, but with the next volume the story will be coming to conclusion.”

The “abrupt ending” had many worrying about Mizuki sensei’s health, especially due to his advanced age. The editorial department sent out an assurance that this was not the case, and that the ending of the serial had nothing to do with Mizuki’s health.

Mizuki_Shigeru_Watashi_no_Hibi

Watashi no Hibi (My Everyday) is an autobiographical comic that covers Mizuki Shigeru’s life, from his childhood in rural Japan to his wartime experience to his life as a manga artist, as well as stories of his family. Each is told as a short story, with 34 stories in total. They plan to release the complete set of stories in a collected edition this July.

Later, Mizuki Pro Tweeted this:

The Big Comics serial is finished. “Why? Is Mizuki sensei sick?” We want to assure you that is not the case. It is true that he was not feeling so well at the end of last year, and that he is still not completely recovered. But truthfully, Mizuki is finding the demands and mental strain of a serialized story too much at his advanced age. Drawing the manga has kept him in the house, and he would rather be doing other things.

Thanks to everyone for your concern!

Translator’s Note:

Here is another translated new article about the end of Shigeru Mizuki’s most recent comic. There has been a lot of speculation about the reason, so I wanted to make this available, especially Mizuki Pro’s tweet regarding the true reason for the abrupt ending of the series.

Happy 93rd Birthday Mizuki Shigeru!!!

Mizuki Shigeru Happy Face

 

Mizuki Shigeru is 93 years old today! And if you don’t know who that is, you have been reading the wrong website! He is the man responsible for this websites existence, and for most of the world’s enthusiasm for yokai and Japanese folklore.

And he happens to be one of the coolest guys alive.

Mizuki_Shigeru_Yokai_Mobile

I’ve been writing these birthday greetings for a few years now, and I am always happy when I get to write another. I have gone into Mizuki’s history and importance in Japanese society on several occasions. If you aren’t familiar with this great genius, spend some time reading up on him and seeing why I adore him so much!

Mizuki Shigeru’s French Fry Heaven

Happy 91st Birthday Mizuki Shigeru

Happy 92nd Birthday Mizuki Shigeru

Mizuki Shigeru in Rabaul

Shigeru Mizuki’s The Dunwich Horror

Needless to say, there are few people who have had such a dramatic influence on their native culture. People like Walt Disney, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Osamu Tezuka (Yes, these are all comic book people, but I am a comic book person myself, so you’ll have to forgive me)–they are enough to count on one hand. One of the joys of Shigeru Mizuki is that he is still alive, and we are able to appreciate his work–and show our appreciation–while he is around to enjoy it.  Too often we discover people’s importance posthumously.

Another aspect of Shigeru Mizuki that I love is just how human he is. Someone of his stature and level of honor and respect could demand that people genuflect before him, that he be presented as some sort of living idol or even a type of character from one of his own stories. But with his autobiographical accounts of his own life, and the pictures he posts on his Twitter account, Shigeru Mizuki shows himself as a person without pretension.

chocc

I am also very proud of the work that I have done with Drawn & Quarterly in bringing Mizuki’s work to an English-speaking audience. When I first started, there were three Mizuki comics in print. Now there are six, soon to be nine, and with many more on the way.

Some of my favorite Mizuki translations I have done will appear in the Drawn & Quarterly 25th Anniversary book. There are several brilliant Mizuki works, the kind not ever seen in English before, separate from both Kitaro and his autobiographical work. I applaud Drawn & Quarterly for wanting to show so many sides of Mizuki as an artists.

Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels

DQ25 Anniversary

As well as a brilliant biography of this guy right here:

Shigeru Mizuki’s Hitler

Shigeru Mizuki Hitler

And the final volume of Showa: A History of Japan:

Showa 1953-1989: A History of Japan (Showa: A History of Japan)

Showa_History_of_Japan_1953_1989

And lots more to come! I promise that if you keep reading, we will keep bringing you the works of this wonderful, weird, brilliant human being! And I am looking forward to posting next year celebrating his 94th birthday!

Dream on, beautiful dreamer! (Now somebody buy that man a hamburger!)

shigeru

Kosodate Yūrei – The Child-Raising Yūrei

Kosodate_Yurei_Shigeru_Mizuki

Translated and Sources from Mizuki Shigeru’s Mujara, Nihon no Yūrei, Inga Monogatari, and Other Sources

To learn much more about Japanese Ghosts, check out my book Yurei: The Japanese Ghost

Yūrei require a tether, something to connect them to the physical world, something strong enough to prevent them from moving on to the next world. Depending on the nature of this bond, a different type of yūrei can manifest. The bond of a mother to her child is one of the oldest and strongest of these tethers.

What Does Kosodate Yūrei Mean?

The kanji for the kosodate yūrei is descriptive. Kosodate (子育て) means child-raising. An alternate term substitutes amekai (飴買い) for the amekai yūrei meaning the candy-buying yūrei. Variations of the story can be found all over Japan, but most kosodate yūrei stories follow a consistent pattern.

The Legend of the Kododate Yūrei

Beisai_Kosodate_Yurei

There are multiple versions of the kosodate yūrei told all across Japan. Most of them follow an identical pattern. This version is told in Nihon no Yūrei by Ikeda Yasaburo as a personal recollection of a story that had been told to him:

“The name Tsukiji nowadays brings to mind a bustling fish market in Tokyo, but it was not always so. In the olden days, the area known as Tsukiji was packed with temples, mostly belonging to the Honkan-ji temple complex. The area was also covered in cemeteries.

Along the banks of the Sumida River that flows near Tsukiji, there were also stands selling fresh fish and the sweet sake for children known as amazake. In one story, late every night a woman clutching a child would come to a certain amazake dealer to buy the sweet sake from him, which she would then give to her child to drink. The sake dealer, sensing something mysterious about this woman, followed her from his stall one night and watched her as she made her way towards the main hall of the temple, where she disappeared like a blown-out candle. When she vanished, the sake dealer could hear the cry of a baby coming from somewhere in the cemetery. Tracking the sound to a freshly-dug grave, the sake dealer enlisted the help of some others to dig up the grave, and when opening the coffin discovered a crying baby nestled in the arms of its mother’s corpse.”

The legend has its origins in China, where it can be traced back to the book Yijian zhi (1198; Records of Anomalies), with the story of the mochikae onna, the rice cake-buying woman:

“One time, a woman who was pregnant died, and was buried in the ground. After that, a nearby rice-cake dealer began to have a strange customer come night after night, an odd woman carrying a baby. The woman always bought a rice cake for the baby. The dealer was suspicious, and stealthily tied a red string to the woman the next time she came in. After she left, he followed the red string and found that it led to a grave hidden under some bushes. After telling the bereaved family, they dug up the grave to find that the woman had given posthumous birth in her coffin. The bereaved family happily took the child to raise, and had the mother’s body cremated.”

Rokumonsen – Six Coins to Pay the River Crossing

Kosodate Yurei Painting

Another part of the kosodate yūrei legends are the use of rokumonsen, the six coins placed with dead bodies in order to pay the toll across the underworld River Sanzu. In many versions of this legend, the kosodate yūrei is using these coins. Often the story continues for five nights, until the body is dug up and the final coin is found resting in her dead hand.

Many other merchants receive even less. In several of the tales, the mother uses the tanuki trick of passing off leaves as coins, and the merchant is left with only a wallet of foliage after the true nature of the woman is discovered.

But coins or leaves, the loving mother rarely buys food for her child, no rice or nourishment, but often the small sweet candies or toys that a child would crave, caring more for the baby’s happiness than its welfare.

Kosadate Ame

Kosodate Ame

Kosodate yūrei remain a popular figure in Japanese folklore. To this day, a small shop in Kyoto still sells kosodate ame—child-rearing candy—and claims to be the very shop where the kosodate- yūrei came to buy candy.

Translator’s Note:

The kosodate yūrei is so similar to another type of ghost—the ubume—that they can almost be considered a different name for the same spirit. There are differences, however. The ubume is closely associated with blood, and with the Buddhist hell of Chi no Ike, the Lake of Blood, where women who died while pregnant were said to be consigned. Ubume also try to get someone to hold their baby, which kosodate yūrei never do.

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