Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Thursday Night

Yokai and Monsters in Japanese Art: A Conversation between Michael Dylan Foster and Laura Allen

Discover the supernatural creatures of Japanese folklore that continue to inspire artists like Takashi Murakami. 

Reserve Tickets

Whether creepy or comical, the supernatural creatures known as yokai have haunted Japanese folklore for centuries and remain highly visible in contemporary Japanese art and media. Drawing on years of research in Japan, professor Michael Dylan Foster will examine the history and cultural context of yokai in conversation with Laura Allen, curator of Takashi Murakami: Unfamiliar People — Swelling of Monsterized Human Ego. Their dialogue will trace the roots of yokai in Japanese culture, interpreting their meanings and exploring their influence throughout the ages on artists including Murakami.  



Michael Dylan Foster is a Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Davis, where he teaches about Japanese folklore, heritage, tourism, and popular culture. He is the author of The Book of Yōkai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore (2015), Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yōkai (2009), and numerous articles on folklore and media. His coedited volumes include The Folkloresque: Reframing Folklore in a Popular Culture World (2016) and Matsuri and Religion: Complexity, Continuity, and Creativity in Japanese Festivals (2021). 


Image: Judgement Day (detail), 2023, by Takashi Murakami (Japanese, b. 1962). Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin. © 2023 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

This lecture is free with general admission. If you wish to view the special exhibition Murakami: Monsterized, please pre-register your timed exhibition ticket as space is limited.

Organizers & Sponsors

Takashi Murakami: Unfamiliar People — Swelling of Monsterized Human Ego is organized by the Asian Art Museum. Presentation is made possible with the generous support of Kenneth C. Griffin and The Bernard Osher Foundation. Additional support is provided by Neiman Marcus, Sakana Foundation, and the W.L.S Spencer Foundation.  

Sustained support generously provided by the Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Endowment Fund for Exhibitions and the Kao/Williams Contemporary Art Exhibitions Fund.