I just started reading “The Book of Yokai”, and it is really one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever bought myself. From the Publisher: “Monsters, ghosts, fantastic beings, and supernatural phenomena of all sorts haunt the folklore and popular culture of Japan. Broadly labeled yokai, these creatures come in infinite shapes and sizes, from mountain goblins and water spirits to shape-shifting foxes and long-tongued ceiling-lickers. Yokai originated in local legends, folktales, and regional ghost stories.”
What I really love so far is Michael Dylan Foster’s broad interpretation of “Folklore”. While covering oral traditions and what we call “Fairy Tales” in the west, Foster also includes urban legend, local customs and festivals, and traditional behaviors (like, in the west, carving a pumpkin on Halloween or the Tooth Fairy). We cordon ourselves off to the “magical thinking” of the past, thinking we’ve risen above it, but we still put value in the monstrous and uncanny.