Sunday, December 1, 2013

Nurikabe

Nurikabe (ぬりかべ or 塗壁) is a yōkai whose origins are from the coastal region of Fukuoka. In folktales, it typically manifests itself as an invisible wall that impedes the movement of its victim. Like many yōkai, it is not particularly dangerous, and seems to be satisfied with causing fear and confusion until its victim gives up trying to move.

The most popular representation of Nurikabe, created by Shigeru Mizuki, takes on the appearance of an animate plaster wall.


I like the earlier one-eyed version, but the iconic Nurikabe from GeGeGe no Kitaro is what most people who are familiar with the creature will recognize.


I suspect that Mizuki was influenced by various pictures of haunted walls from Japanese paintings when creating Nurikabe.


However, in 2007, a painting that showed a different vision of Nurikabe surfaced from a private collection in Utah. I'm guessing that prior to this discovery, there were no actual paintings that definitively showed what Nurikabe looked like.


Author/illustrator Matthew Meyer created a version that blends the two types at Yokai.com. I also like the version of Nurikabe from the PS2 game Ōkami, which takes on the appearance of a much more elaborate wall.


Regardless, the only miniatures of Nurikabe represent the version from GeGeGe no Kitaro. The large Nurikabe is from the Shigeru Mizuki Yokai Figure Series produced by Kabaya, while the Nurikabe performing the leg drop is a glow-in-the-dark GeGeGe no Kitaro Attack Swing keychain mascot from Bandai.


There are a couple of other Nurikabe toys I'm trying to find, but overall, I'm not terribly fond of the typical Kitaro version of Nurikabe. It just looks too much like a giant piece of gray toast.

As far as size goes, I'd estimate Nurikabe is portrayed to be about 10' tall in the Kitaro manga. However, it can make itself as large or wide as necessary to impede its victims, so pretty much any size works.


I also decided to have a go at making my own Nurikabe out of clay. After all, it's just a rectangle with arms and legs... I think I'm going to use it as a master so I can create various versions of the creature.


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