Hyogo: Laundry Fox Welcomed as New Addition of Yokai Bench Series

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Model sculptor Masaaki Fukuda sits on a bench featuring the yokai Sentaku-Gitsune, which he designed, in Fukusaki, Hyogo Prefecture.

FUKUSAKI, Hyogo — The town of Fukusaki in Hyogo Prefecture, which is promoting itself through the use of yokai monsters, has created the 20th in a series of “yokai benches” and installed it outside a local sushi bar.

Because of Fukusaki native and renowned folklorist Kunio Yanagita (1875-1962), the local municipal government has for several years been putting benches with yokai figures in the area so that members of the public feel like they are sitting alongside yokai.

The yokai figures created for the projects look distinctly realistic with particular attention to details such as facial expression and posture.

Many of the life-size figures, which are made of fiber-reinforced plastic, feature a bit of personality and include a kappa water imp situated in front of a shogi chessboard and taking his time to think of his next move and a suit-clad tengu monster with a long nose.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A selection of yokai benches

The latest addition is a bench 1.8 meters long with the 90-centimeter-tall yokai Sentaku-Gitsune, whose name means “laundry fox.”

The fox-like yokai is said to generate a noise that mimics the sounds of doing laundry in the middle of the night. The cute figure doing the laundry in a Japanese shallow wooden bucket was created by Masaaki Fukuda, 53, a model sculptor who works as a special effects artist for films.

The bench is complete with two fox cubs, one in the wooden bucket and the other at one end of the bench, which has been set up outside the Fukusaki branch of Kaishumaru conveyor-belt sushi bar, which was selected as the location in a drawing.

“I’m thrilled. I’d like to think about what I can to do with sushi dishes after the yokai bench,” said the smiling manager of the sushi bar.