The spirit world is highly revered in Japan. From sacred sites to encounters with shape-shifting animals, there are hundreds of tales involving other-worldly beings that hover around the shrines, temples and natural formations that dot the country.

This sense of mystery manifests itself in yokai; strange apparitions or supernatural monsters that exist in folklore and can often be seen in traditional woodblock prints. Ghoulish animals appear quite frequently, which has inspired one Japanese artist to create her own collection featuring mischievous cats, illustrating them as they get up to strange antics and perform magical stunts.

Cats in the yokai world are definitely still cute—just in a strange, creepy way!

Ayako Ishiguro is one of Japan’s most prolific cat illustrators. Her style is influenced by a mix of manga and traditional styles, and she’s published several books and held numerous exhibitions all featuring the humble feline.


▼ Ishiguro also uses different shaped fans as canvases for her cat paintings.


▼ Here a cheeky cat shows off her superior shape-shifting skills by disguising herself as a tanuki raccoon dog.


▼ Cats riding a catfish. Those kittens look suitably shocked by the situation.


▼ A cat fire-ball


▼ Cat as mythical beast. We can assume that’s the family dog being crushed underfoot.


Ishiguro’s works are in such high demand that she’s often approached by event managers and musicians such as DE DE MOUSE, who are drawn to her modern yet traditional style.


To see more of Ishiguro’s adorable yokai cat collection, be sure to check out her exhibition, which runs from 10–21 September at Uresica Gallery in Suginami Ward, Tokyo.

With cats this mesmerising, we can’t wait to cross paths with more yokai felines in the future!

Source: Japaaan
Images: @kxt246 Ishigura Ayako