Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: Exploring Counterintuitiveness of Japanese Monstrous Beings

Keywords: minimally counterintuitiveness, cultural attraction, monstrous beings, cognitive science of religion


Minimally counterintuitive (MCI) theory has been proposed to explain common features inherent in supernatural, mythological, or religious concepts across diverse cultural traditions. According to this theory, these concepts often embody an optimal balance of counterintuitive elements, enhancing their cognitive attraction and likelihood of widespread transmission. Previous research has explored the prevalence of minimal counterintuitiveness in characters portrayed in various folkloristic and religious written materials. Here, we extend this investigation to examine the presence of minimal counterintuitiveness in yokai, Japanese monstrous beings. Using Barrett’s MCI coding scheme, we analyzed 54 unique entities described in “Yōkai Zukan”, a compilation of four materials written before the Westernization of Japan. Our findings, in line with previous research, demonstrate that 92.5% of the entities exhibit a minimal number of counterintuitive traits. The result highlights the applicability of the MCI theory to the analysis of Japanese monstrous beings that were recorded in Japan before Westernization.

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