Fuguruma yohi
Greetings yokai fans!

Today's yokai is another companion piece.

This is fuguruma yohi, the strange queen of the book cart.

You can probably guess who her companion is, as they are king and queen. Last month's chirizuka kaio and today's fuguruma yohi appear opposite each other in their original publication, Hyakki tsurezure bukuro. Like the strange king, this strange queen was made up by Toriyama Sekien, based on a pun from the Tsurezure gusa.

It's never specified just what she is queen of (if anything). Presumably, she is just the queen of that book cart and it's just a fancy name. But maybe she is queen of the tsukumogami entirely, ruling alongside the chirizuka kaio? It's fun to speculate, but really there's no answer, as neither of them are folkloric or mythological figures. They were both invented for Sekien's book and really just mainly as silly puns that sharp-eyed and educated readers would enjoy on a level above just the funny illustration. Toriyama Sekien was a master at creating multi-leveled humor.

But regardless of what she is queen of, she's a fun character to look at and a good addition to our collection of yokai!



TRANSLATION: strange queen of the book cart
ALTERNATE NAMES: bunshō no kai (essay spirit)
HABITAT: libraries, temples, and noble houses; anywhere with book collections
DIET: none; she is fueled by emotion

APPEARANCE: Fuguruma yōhi is a spirit which resembles and ogreish human woman in tattered clothing. She is a kind of tsukumogami—an artifact spirit—which manifests out of old-fashioned book carts called fuguruma. In particular, it is the emotion and attachment built up in the piles of love letters stored in these carts which gives birth to this yōkai.

ORIGIN: Fuguruma yōhi appears alongside chirizuka kaiō in Toriyama Sekien’s collection of tsukumogami Hyakki tsurezure bukuro. Like chirizuka kaiō, her name is a pun based on essay 72 from the medieval essay collection Tsurezure gusa. The essay discusses the folly of overabundance. Having too many possessions is a bad thing which distracts you from that which is important; however there is no such thing as having too many books on your book cart. The fuguruma yōhi is what Toriyama Sekien imagined might appear if you actually did have too many books on  your book cart. The desire and attachment written in each single love letter may not amount to very much, but if there are enough letters, enough attachments may pile up that a yōkai can be born from them.