Spirit of Japan: Festivals, Rituals and Everyday Magic, written by Sean Michael Wilson and illustrated by Fumio Obata, will be published by Liminal 11, the mind, body, spirit publisher set up by Mike Medaglia and Darren Shill, next June.
Japan is sometimes called a ‘non-religious’ country, but this cliché is simply not true! Looking closer, you’ll find that spirits, demons and magic are woven into the fabric of Japanese folklore – and their effigies still populate roadsides and rituals to this day.
Japan is alive with magical festivals, practices and rituals – from marking the liminal new year with the burning of last year’s possessions, to smiling at the return of spring in the cherry blossoms. Greeting new life, making offerings to the old and banishing demons with the hurl of a soybean are all examples of intriguing Japanese traditions.
Many of these cultural practices are seen as mundane or normal, but they each express something sublime and numinous. Japanese rituals perform a powerful role in helping people deal with nature, time, seasons, ageing and death – bringing a bit of everyday magic into everyday lives.
The Spirit of Japan is an accessible introduction to Japanese spiritual practice, perfect for those who are curious about spirituality or Japanese culture and would like to know more.
Writer Sean Michael Wilson is a graphic novel writer living in Scotland and Japan. His books are often on themes of history, biography and social issues. He has had more than twenty books published with a variety of US, UK and Japanese publishers, including an adaptation of A Christmas Carol with art by Mike Collins (“Best of 2008”, Sunday Times), AX:alternative manga (“Best ten books of 2010”, Publishers Weekly), Parecomic (with an introduction by Noam Chomsky, his first contribution to a book in graphic form) and several manga versions of Japanese classics, such as The Book of Five Rings, Hagakure and The 47 Ronin.
In 2016, his book The Faceless Ghost was nominated for the prestigious Eisner Book Awards. In 2017, his book Secrets of the Ninja won an International Manga Award from the Japanese government. (Sean was the first British person to receive this award).
Sean has worked with a variety of organisations in the process, such as British universities and museums, Norwegian’s People’s Aid, the British and American Humanist Associations, Corporate Watch, War on Want and the Arts Council. He often gives lectures and talks about comics in schools and colleges, and has written articles for such places as The Japan Times, The London Economic and The Herald Scotland.
Born in Tokyo, artist Fumio Obata , who recently worked with Sean on The Garden, published by Liminal back in May, came to the UK when he was 16 years old and completed his BA Illustration degree at Glasgow School of Art and a Master degree in Communication Design from Royal College of Art in London. He then pursued his comic book career here in the UK after realising there were more challenges in Europe than his home country, Japan. He is now an author whose work and inspiration come from cultural differences and social issues in his surroundings. His style and work are influenced by both Japanese and European aesthetics.
He graphic novel Just So Happens, published by Jonathan Cape in 2014, has won many high acclaims and now been translated and published in eight different countries.
Fumio also has a career as an animator. Between 2003 and 2008 he worked with Duran Duran, Channel4, and joined Redkite Animations in Edinburgh in 2006. In Edinburgh, he worked on numbers of joint projects with Beano publisher DC Thomson.
Between 2008-9 he completed a comic artist residency at La Maison Des Auteurs (The House of Authors) in Angoulême, France – a renowned programme organised by La Cité Internationale de la Bande Desinée et de l’image. In 2013 he was offered a senior lecturer post for the BA Illustration course at the University of Gloucestershire in UK and currently supporting young talents to develop their own/unique artistic voices in various sequential contexts such as animation, graphic novel and children’s book. He is a regular contributor to Italian News Magazine Internazionale for his graphic reportage on a series of natural disasters in Japan.
The brainchild of comic creators Mike Medaglia and Darren Shill, Liminal 11 is a mind, body, spirit publisher creating tarot decks, illustrated books, and comics. The company strives to produce gorgeous products that benefit people’s lives and wellbeing, from a range of voices that reflect a beautifully diverse world.
Limnal 11’s first publication, The Luna Sol Tarot, by Mike and Darren, was released in 2018. Since then, they’ve published a range of beautiful books, comics, and tarot decks, including the bestselling Modern Witch Tarot deck by Lisa Sterle, released last year.
Spirit of Japan: Festivals, Rituals and Everyday Magic
By Sean Michael Wilson, illustrated by Fumio Obata
Published 10th June 2021
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With thanks to Paul Gravett for the tip