Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Soot Sprites & The Camphor Tree
Susuwatari (Japanese ススワタリ; "wandering soot"), also called Makkuro kurosuke (真っ黒黒助; "pitch-black assistant"), is the name of a fictitious yōkai which was devised by Hayao Miyazaki, drawn by Ghibli studios and known from the famous anime-productions My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away where, in the former, they are identified as "black soots" in early subtitles and "soot sprites" or gremlins in the later English dubbed version."
I first saw Totoro in 1988 or so, before there was a translation into English. It was rather mysterious, trying to figure out what the characters were saying -- I took a year of Japanese but that was a few years later -- but not too difficult to follow. I could watch it over and over, just for the beautiful "scenery" -- it's animated but Miyazaki does animated landscapes that are heavenly.
I especially liked the tree Totoro lives in, a giant camphor tree. These trees can grow to be huge and live a long time -- there is one in Japan that is 1500 years old and almost 100 feet across the crown! I think I want to move into that tree. Totoro's probably there....
watercolor & ink
Available on Etsy.