Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: Omori Hikoshichi Sees a Demon
Series: Selected New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts
Publisher: Sasaki Toyokichi
Dimensions: 25.2 x 36.9 cm
Condition: Paper partially soiled. Red pigment slightly oxidised.
Most know that ghosts in the West have no reflection in the mirror and no shadow. In Japan, however, a reflection shows the true nature of a supernatural creature.
On his way back from the battle at Minatogawa, Omori Hikoshichi’s gaze fell on a beautiful woman lingering near a stream. The moment he approached her, she curved her lips into a smile and offered her hands in a pleading gesture, asking the gallant samurai to help her cross over. Blood still boiling from the previous battle, he almost welcomed her cold body on his back yet questioned her overbearing weight that crushed him more and more by the second. She grasped his shoulders, head pressing onto his and only when the moon beamed within the water ripples did Omori see her for what she truly was. Water reflected her horns, urging the samurai to reach for his sword. In mere seconds the demon was slain and her attack cut short. Drawing in a sharp breath, Omori watched as her robes submerged into darkness instead of what could have turned out to be his own corpse.
The eeriness of the encounter is emphasised by the pallid glow emanating from the full moon, with the reeds to the left of the composition emerging from the river in wild stylised strokes.