Devils and unicorns. Werewolves and giants. The world is full of stories about creatures that defy our laws of nature. Fantastic beasts like these come in countless shapes and sizes, yet we find similarities in tales of such creatures everywhere.

For example, both dragon and mermaid imagery are found worldwide. They may take different forms, but the relative characteristics remain unchanged. Why is this? How could disparate, ancient people dream up similar mythical animals? And when one region has its own unique beast, what does that say about the culture that created it? These were just a few of the questions I asked myself at “Regnum Imaginarium: Realm of the Marvelous and Uncanny,” the current exhibition at Osaka’s National Museum of Ethnology.

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