Matthew Kiichi Heafy and Z2 Comics bring Japanese folklore to life with Ibaraki and Friends

Adding yet another title to his lengthy list of accomplishments and accolades, Trivium frontman and Ibaraki mastermind Matthew Kiichi Heafy is now at the helm of new book for young readers with the announcement of Ibaraki and Friends. Not to be mistaken for this forthcoming, much more sinister black metal opus set to arrive next month, the book borrows from the same namesake but offers a different presentation of Japanese cultural folklore.

Joining forces with specialty publisher Z2 Comics, Heafy set out to craft a collection of stories that further spoke to his lineage and his Japanese heritage. With the creative team that includes the incredible illustration of the Half Sumo Collective and the layout design of Ashley Heafy, the musician and storyteller was able to assemble a collection of stories in a young reader rhyming book that touts the monsters, heroes, and mythical creatures that were so influential in his own upbringing.

Throughout the pages of Ibaraki & Friends Heafy is able to redraft the tales his mother taught him growing up. From the monkey, bird, man amalgam, Tengu, a nine-tailed celestial fox, and a eight-headed beast in Yamata No Orochi; Heafy in tandem with the visual compliment of Half Sumo’s vivid illustrations, is able to breathe new life into these traditional Japanese folk tales.

Ibaraki & Friends is a book full of the stories that I grew up with. That Japanese folklore lies at the very root of so many of the amazing stories we have today, whether they’re in video games, anime, movies, or songs,” Heafy explains.

“For years, I’ve researched as many Japanese stories as possible—gotten several of them tattooed on my body—and explored their themes in the songs of Trivium, Ibaraki, and now in Ibaraki & Friends,” Heafy continues “It’s our hope that in exploring these wonderful stories, that the readers will want to learn more about Japanese culture—then more cultures of the surrounding Asian countries, then spread that willingness to learn about stories from all over the world, inspiring curiosity in the many cultures we share around the planet.”

Rounding out the immersive sensory quality of the project, Heafy is pairing the book with The Ibaraki and Friends Lullaby CD. The musical companion of the book is intended to provide a sense of soothing calm, in a collection of acoustic songs written and performed by Heafy - offering the perfect soundtrack to best consume the tales in the book.

The arrival of Ibaraki and Friends is set for later this summer in June and as with all Z2 Comics releases, the book will be available in various packaging options. In addition to the lullaby CD, the book will also include a special Bento Box, limited edition signed prints of the Half Sumo artwork by Matthew Kiichi Heafy, and even a collection of temporary tattoos for the kiddos. Shop the options and pre-order - HERE