Lost and Found Yōkai

Young V&A
May 29, 2024

At Young V&A, we’re all about imagination, having fun and making things. With half-term underway in Tower Hamlets, we’ve been working on something to delight, intrigue and inspire visitors of all ages. 

Lost and Found Yōkai is the museum’s first major creative installation, inspired by our current exhibition Japan: Myths to Manga.

Yōkai are mythical, supernatural beings that are popular in Japanese folklore, literature, art and popular culture, in particular, the kasa-obake or umbrella monster. These playful spooks are a type of tsukumogami, everyday objects that receive a spirit and find new life as yōkai, on their 100th birthday.   

For the Lost and Found Yōkai installation, 22 contemporary artists have transformed ordinary umbrellas, previously lost on London’s public transport, and generously donated by TfL’s Lost Property Office, into a joyous ‘parade’ of yōkai.

David Parry/PA Media Assignments

The Yōkai Onomatopoeic Machine, by artist and designer Yuri Suzuki and design and research studio Very Very Far Away, helps bring the Yōkai to life with supernatural sounds from Japan.

The Yōkai Onomatopoeic Machine, Yuri Suzuki and VVFA.
Photograph by David Parry/PA Media Assignments

Meet the Artists

We asked the participating artists to share snippets about their yōkai and what inspired them, which we’ll be sharing on the blog over the coming weeks. 

Nicole Chui 

Nicole Chui specialises in freestyle hand embroidery and for their yōkai, called Bae-Bae: The spirit of the bae will guide your way, they’ve used cotton strand thread, cotton polyester fabric, metal studs, paint and paracord. This yōkai was inspired by the club mascot of Baesianz FC – which Chui said channels the spirit of its players: protective, cute, kind and fiercely proud. 

“[it] is a football club for women, trans, and non-binary people of Asian heritage with an aim to embrace the love of the game, and our ‘Asian-ness’ however we want to express it. The tiger is simply our club symbol, but also a representation of the people who make our community, which will impact the next generation of ‘baes.”

Chui was also inspired by a child’s drawing of a cat/umbrella yokai in Young V&A’s Open Studio.  

Bae-Bae: The spirit of the bae will guide your way, Nicole Chui, 2024


Murugiah is a multi-disciplinary artist, illustrator & designer, whose work typically depicts imaginative, vibrantly coloured dreamscapes populated by fantastical characters, offset with darker imagery. To make Hana, Murugiah used two akari lamps, felt sheets and flowers, and a pair of red boots. 

Hana means ‘flower’ in Japanese. Murugiah frequently uses flowers as a motif in his work to represent a friendly personification of nature. Hana is made from discarded household objects that have been granted life, a bit like some folkloric yōkai. Murugiah imagined Hana as an umbrella that has bloomed into beautiful petals as if watered by 100 years of rain.  

Hana, Murugiah, 2024

Jessica Dance 

Jessica Dance is a textile artist and model maker and is the creator of Dancing in the Drizzle: The tale of Mumbrella & Sonbrella. Their faces, bodies and clothing were created using machine-knitted lambswool, with an adult and child-size umbrella at their centres.

According to Dance, they welcome you to a “magical world, where lost is found, and friendship reigns supreme… these once-lost umbrellas, found in TfL’s lost property office, have now reunited and revel in their joyful friendship. In a bustling world, they remind us of the joy in everyday connections, where mischief and fun find new life, uncovering the extraordinary in the ordinary.”

Dancing in the Drizzle: The tale of Mumbrella & Sonbrella, Jessica Dance, 2024

Bethan Laura Wood 

Artist and designer Bethan Laura Wood used foam, wire, double-sided card and hot glue to make their yōkai, Stingray.  

Stingray incorporates Bethan’s own broken umbrella as well as one from TfL. Noticing that its misshapen form resembled a fish, Bethan said that wind, “the sworn enemy of the umbrella… peeled back its skin to expose two forks, which become the tailbone for tasselled tails, created from spotty fabric from another umbrella. Holes and rips from long days of service house eyes that move and spin in the wind… the damaged end cap is replaced by a glowing yellow handle resembling an anglerfish fin…

Stingray, Bethan Laura Wood, 2024

Anna Burns

Anna Burns is a visual artist and spatial designer. Her yōkai, Betty the Beautiful, was made using cotton, satin, ribbon, and recycled stuffing. 

Anna says, that “Betty is very much inspired by female yōkai… In particular the Nure-onna and Ohaguro-Bettari who are both beautiful, provocative, funny and full-on fantastic fantasy using their tricksters’ forms to protect and feed themselves. Currently my personal work focusses on emotions transforming female form and so telling stories with it was essential to my approach on this commission.”

Betty The Beautiful, Anna Burns, 2024

Come spot and discover your favourite characters at Young V&A from 24 May until 1 September. 

Find out more about visiting the Lost and Found Yōkai installation.

Find out more about visiting Japan: Myths to Manga and book tickets.

Explore fun online digital content relating to Japan: Myths to Manga on Mused, our website for 10-14 year olds.

David Parry/PA Media Assignments
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