Ghosts and monsters of Japan to scare up interest at pub talk

The popular art, literature, culture and religion of early-modern Japan will be the subject of the next Quack Chats pub talk, which also comes with a supernatural twist just as Halloween approaches.

Glynne Walley, a professor of East Asian languages and literatures at the UO, researches Japanese literature of the early modern period, from 1603 to 1867 and also known as the Edo or Tokugawa era. The talk will highlight materials from Special Collections and University Archives and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

Walley's talk, "Praying and Playing with Monsters in Japanese Popular Prints," will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Ax Billy Grill & Sports Bar, on the third floor of the Downtown Athletic Club, 999 Willamette St. Admission is free. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Senjafuda votive slip

Walley said the University of Oregon holds one of the world's finest collections of senjafuda: small paper slips that were originally made by pilgrims in Japan to paste on the walls of temples and shrines as a sort of devotional graffiti.

"The closest thing to compare them with today would probably be trading cards," Walley said. "These are miniature works of art with all the design sense and incredible craftsmanship we expect from Japanese art. They were used as expressons of religious devotion, as items for collection and trade, as objects of art appreciation and as means of self-expression. I'll be talking about all this — and monsters."

Like the votive slips, many popular monsters and ghosts, or yōkai, are rooted in the emergence of popular culture in early modern Japan.

"We'll use senjafuda to explore yōkai culture, and yōkai to explore senjafuda culture," Walley said. "These collections are one of the UO’s hidden gems."

Hoping to get better acquainted with these materials ahead of the Oct. 9 talk? In collaboration with the UO Libraries' Digital Scholarship Services and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, and supported in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Walley has developed and launched Yōkai Senjafuda, a digital exhibition that delves into the prints.

Quack Chats is a program of University Communications. For more information, see the Quack Chats section on Around the O. A general description of Quack Chats and a calendar of additional Quack Chats and associated public events also can be found on the UO’s Quack Chats website.

—By Jason Stone, University Communications