Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bearded Roach Donkey

Leave it to poetry to describe the Bearded Roach Donkey. Japanese poet Miyamoto, writing in the sixteenth century, described the Roach Donkey like this:

Bearded Roach Donkey
Hunting small helpless creatures

Darkness of a cave.

Five centuries later, not much has changed. The Bearded Roach Donkey still lives in cave-like burrows in the Japanese countryside. It still uses its peculiar claws to whack the stuffing out of small, helples creatures, which it then drags into its lair. It still has a beard.

And it still shocks unwary travelers by appearing out of nowhere on country roads late at night, howling at the three-quarter moon in its peculiar high pitched growl. This sound is so distinctive that Japanese school children have national contests to see who can best imitate it. In 2008, teenager Rei Shimigawa became a national sensation when she gave an uncanny imitation of the Roach Donkey moon howl, and did it while simultaneously mimicing the donkey's peculiar hop. She now has a weekly national television show and a pop music career.

The Roach Donkey is a popular creature in Japan. Roach Donkey Expansion Doll Invasion, an anime about a talking Bearded Roach Donkey who helps two teenage girls solve murders in post-apocalyptic Japan, spawned a feature film and three cross platform video games, including the international hit Roach Donkey Zombie Portmanteau. A Bearded Roach Donkey made an appearance in Hiyao Miyazaki's Academy Award winning Spirited Away as the keeper of the pigs. In theatre, the famous Kabuki play Donkey Ronin tells the story of a samurai who is magically transformed into a Bearded Roach Donkey after failing to protect his ward. The twelve hour epic is a classic of the art form.

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