Biwa-bokuboku -JP:琵琶牧々 - [yokai]
• About this yokai: A top of the line wooden Biwa, Tsukumogami which has come to life after about 100 years of neglect from its owners, mournful for not being played, it now wanders the streets as a blind zato, playin’ for tips.
• History: Instruments are often said to become tsukumogami when they've been neglected by their owners, gone unpracticed and left sitting in storage for years or decades at a time! – They are often depicted (humorously) seeking revenge against the musicians who've neglected their practice or repair. - Biwa-bokuboku is often depicted along side Koto Furunushi & Shami-choro - (The three are often said to be a trio that play forgotten songs and tunes together as a band.) - These yokai serve as a reminder to practice diligently & to not let the old instruments & ways of playing be forgotten.
The most popular Biwa-yokai is the "Biwa-bokuboku" is included in toriyama sekeins Gazu Hyakki Tsurezure Bukuro (百器徒然袋)  - This yokai was, in turn; a combination reference to two prized & legendary Biwa: - “The Genjo” & “The Bokuba” – in a nutshell: the "Bokuba" Was a famous biwa lute which was said to be able to play itself when nobody was looking, it played so nicely it was even able to placate a demon. – while, The "Genjo" refused to be played by anyone without talent, during a fire: it was assumed that an Oni had invisibly stolen it from the emperors palace, but it turns out it was the Biwa /itself/ that had become frustrated from being neglected in storage for such a long time.
Toriyama Seikens Biwa-bokuboku's appearance is based on a blind monk called a zato – many lute players in edo where in fact: blind. – Today there are urban legends out there that they would cause this themselves, gouging their eyes out of devotion to the craft. (However: Im 99% sure that that is in fact false, misinformation*) – It is to my understanding that the "zato" had become more of an occupation, they where a bit more like a magical soothsayers: it was said that their songs could quell Demons, Ghosts and some where even able to prevent Plagues with their melodies.. so, the reason that the blind where often musicians? is because in-factfor a time, it actually paid incredibly well! - In the Edo period they where often sponsored by temples and sometimes even the shogunate, People relied on them for poetry and stories (as not as many people could read.) – So 'Zato' became a lucrative occupation, and the Biwa became incredibly popular instrument for that reason.
...Then unfortunately towards the end of Edo period, along with a ban on folklore, magic and yokai: blind Biwa players where also swept under a rug, hidden by a change in government, the rise of tech & the modern era... That's perhaps why the poor biwa-bokuboku is now commonly said to be a beggar, But in actuality the robes he wears are very nice!!
*Going further back is the legend of "Hoichi the Earless" which is a famous ghost story, it might have attributed to -why- people tend to believe the misinformation that self mutilation was part of the occupation. But this is getting a bit long winded, so, perhaps i'll save that for a sticker/story for another time. - I hope that my sticker will inspire you to look up some good biwa music or to keep you jamming and practising whatever you might play!
Sticker Art by @Samkalensky (yo thats me!) - Part of my Night parade of 100 Demons - Yokai & Japanese folklore sticker collection, weather-resistant 4" Glossy sticker. Check my shop & follow @samkalensky for many more!