Author of the 1971 study of ghosts and ghostly literature called Youkaigaku nyumon (Introduction to the Study of Ghosts). Ghosts in literature and ghostly phenomena have long been the subject of academic study in Japan.. See also Abe Masamichi and Fukurai Tomokichi.
Abe made the transition from his youth as a Marxist social critic to a mainstream Japanese novelist. His early work, written under surrealist and Marxist influence, is largely unavailable in English. He later relaxed his Marxist views and concentrated on the human condition itself.
Known in the West for his science fiction and the films made from his major works, the highly realistic Abe sometimes crosses over into the realm of the horrific. One example is his early tale, "Song of a Dead Girl", about a girl's ghostly existence after a suicide, reminiscent of David Lindsay's fantasy, A Fine and Private Place. It portrays the horror of the recent war dead and the dreariness and pathos of ghostly existence.
In general, Abe's work belongs into the realm of absurdism and social criticism, and while sometimes fantastic, it usually falls short of the horrid. In the Woman of the Dunes, the protagonist faces the horror of the absurdity of everyday life, and the reader feels suffocated by the relentless sands literally burying him alive. A true realist, Abe always approached and then shied away from the door to the fantastic. (See Rimer, A Reader's Guide to Japanese Literature.)
He is the author of two books on the history and criticism of Japanese ghost stories: Onnen no Nihon bunka:.Yokai hen (1995) and Onnen no Nihon bunka: Yurei hen (1995), literally translated as Grudge Culture: Ghosts and Grudge Culture: Monsters, respectively. He is Professor of Japanese Literature at Kokugakuin University.
Japanese Heian era adept, sorcerer, astronomer and diviner (921-1005). Allegedly the son of a fox woman, he studied astrology under Kamon Tadayuki and became an adept in the occult science, onmyodo, at the Imperial Court.
He frequently appears in Japanese literature even today. He's a minor character in the Heike Monogatari and is featured in the Noh play Kanawa. He is immortalized in works by Yumemakara, Togashi and the Princess Comic called Oto Aya Kashiki Tan (Royal City Adventure Story). Also, the Konjaku Monogatari (volume 24, chapter 16) mentions a Taoist magician, named Abe no Seimei, whose clairvoyance alerted and his master to the coming of Hyakki yakou, a night roving band of demons. Further, Abe no
Seimei appears in the Uji-Jui Monogatari, this time saving a nobleman from an occult attack.
In English, Abe no Seimei is a main character in the short story "The Poor Woman and the Diviner" by Post Wheeler. It appeared in the British horror anthology, The Evening Standard Book of Strange Tales, in the 1930's. In the story, a poor woman gives Seimei shelter for the night, but in the morning, she demands of him 1000 pieces of gold. Her father was also a diviner and he foresaw Seimei's visit. The story probably comes from one of the old monogatari collections featuring Seimei.
The abyss is often characterized as the underworld or the abode of the dead. This often places it underground or inside mountains. Chinese demonic tradition holds the underground is the abode of subterranean demons, as well as the world of the dead. The Japanese and the South Sea Islanders have the curious tradition of placing the abyss beneath the sea or at the bottom of lakes. This ties in with the myth of undersea cities and palaces as in the Japanese classic fairy tale "Urashima Taro," reminiscent of King Arthur's Avalon.
A notorious female oni of Adachi-ga Hera. She is the subject of an early Noh play by the same name. The play is based on an ancient poem in which the oni character is a beautiful young girl, but she becomes demonized for dramatic purposes in the play. She is an Oni-Babah, or female ogre who feasts upon human flesh. A party of traveling priests got shelter from an old woman. Forbidden to enter her bedroom in her absence, one priest peeks, discovering a half-eaten human carcass. (See Kusano, Weird Tales of Old Japan)
Taoist magicians, usually Chinese. They are noted for taming animals, performing miracles, and fearlessly conversing with ghosts and demons. Fishes and birds danced to adept Pao Pa's lute. She Wen changed the weather with a few musical notes. See also azusa. Yen She's supreme willpower animated dolls and instilled bravery in others. (See also Willoughby-Meade, Chinese Ghouls and Goblins).
Japanese fantasy writer. He scripted at least one horror manga in 1988. His works are published in the Shueisha Super Fantasy Book Collection and Kadokawa Horror Bunko. He is known to have written one Cthulu mythos story, involving mikkyou - esoteric Buddhist religious teachings and exorcism. He is also screenwriter for many horror and supernatural anime: Vampire Princess Miyu, Hakkenden and Urotsukidoji, to name a few.
Japanese goddess of fire.
Ethnic group inhabiting northern Japan. With a culture rich in strange folklore, they are thought to be the earliest inhabitants of Japan. They believe in a magical connection between trees and humans, for example, that a girl dies when a certain tree is cut down. They feel that willows are like living humans and make miniature sacrificial willows from willow peelings (See Willoughby-Meade, Chinese Ghouls and Goblins).
A fallen priest from the Hakkotsu-San ("Skeleton Mountain") region. He fell in love with a beautiful girl, which of course is a grave sin for a Buddhist priest. He turned into a demon and destroyed his own temple. In his old age, he repented through a supreme act of will, but he turned into a skeleton while praying for redemption.
Though very active in science fiction, he wrote at least two horror books: Onikai (Devil's Meeting) and the short story collection, Yoru Mata no Shita (Night's Forked Tongue, Kadokawa Horror, 1996). He also wrote a book on Japanese traditional drama, Noh and Kabuki plays.
The 1982 film, Irezumi (The Spirit of Tattoo) was based on his novel by the same name. It is the story of the a young woman, Katsuko, who goes to great lengths to satisfy her lover's fetish for tattoos. The old master, Kyogoro, applies his art to her tender young skin while his assistant uses a special technique to distract her from the pain. The assistant inadvertently discovers the secret of the master tattooer's work in the shocking climax. It is reminiscent of Tanizaki's sole horror tale, "The Tattooer." (See also Rimer, A Reader's Guide to Japanese Literature.)
Popular Japanese mystery writer (b 1950). He won the Kadokawa Novel Award in 1980 for Akuzuma ni sasageru ( Requiem for a Bad Wife). He is also known for his short stories, many of which appeared in horror anthologies over the past 20 years. One of his horror titles is Yurei shinrigaku (Ghost Psychology). He also wrote Kekkon kinen satsujinjunji (Marriage Memorial Murder Affair), apparently with supernatural elements..
An illustrated children's book popular in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, an akahon occasionally had a supernatural subject. It was usually justified by being morally instructive like many Victorian ghost stories.
He has a degree from the Tokyo College of Pharmacy which gives him special insight into poisons, hallucinogens and other toxicological amusements. He wrote the horror novel Kugutsu no ito (The Puppet's Strings, pub. Kadokawa Horror Bunko) about a bizarre serial killer.
See Ueda, Akinari.
Japanese manga and film. Otomo Katsuhiro's manga is a powerful convergence of science fiction, body horror, biological horror and apocalyptic fiction. Set in Neo-Tokyo in a post-holocaust future, it uses a discovery plot to undercover Akira, a secret government project that involves psychic power, genetic engineering and manipulated evolution. Japanese literature professor and critic, Susan Napier, praised Akira in her fascinating book, The Fantastic in Japanese Literature. Comparing it to Tsutsui Yasukata's "Kaomen Hokai," she admires its "extraordinary scenes of transmutation" and its attack upon the Japanese establishment. She elegantly sums it up in the phrase: a "no-holds-barred enjoyment of fluidity and chaos."
Japanese for demon, devil, or evil spirit. Akogi :
Based on ancient literature, "Akogi" is a Noh play about a man in Hell seeking salvation. (See Kusano, Weird Tales of Japan).
Japanese evil spirit or angelic being, devil, demon, evil genius in some contexts. It can be used to describe devils from Western culture, as in the sh(j( manga, Akuma no houteishiki, wherein the devils are the familiar (to Western demonologists at least) Astaroth and Beelzebub.
Japanese for nightmare. See Dreams.
Japanese for "devil dream", an especially disturbing nightmare, spirit, succubus, incubus.
Japanese evil spirit, angel. This term crops up in the popular culture, for example in the horror video game, Akury( no Yakata (Terror House).
His mother died insane when he was young, and his father gave him up for adoption. Despite his inauspicious beginnings, he had a distinguished academic career at Tokyo University, married and father three children. Follower of Natsume Soseki, he produced a fine series of short novels and short stories during his brief lifetime. Cassell's Encyclopedia of World Literature describes his work as "weird and fantastic" and "often symbolical and impression istic."
He committed suicide during a stretch of severe depression. Akutakawa's "The H4ll Screen" is the strongest tale of Japanese horror available in English. The idea of using a painter as conveyor of horror goes back to LeFanu's "Schalken the Painter" and occurs in Poe, Chambers, Lovecraft and many others. "The Heresy" is its sequel though is less successful as horror. Another of his tales, "The Spider's Thread" shows the horrors of a Buddhist Hell and the chilling indifference of those in Paradise.
Other bits of strangeness gleam in his minor works. In his story, "The Badger," the title character can transform itself into seductive human form. Though not a horror tale, it draws from the same rich sources of Japanese mythology. Gerry Goldberg's 1977 horror anthology Nighttouch contains a synopsis of Akutagawa's strange tale, "The Dragon." For revenge, a ridiculed priest posts a notice that a dragon will materialize in a mountain lake on a certain date. A crowd gathers at the specified time and from the telepathic force of the crowd's anticipation, the hazy form of a dragon rises from the lake and disappears in the sky. This could be applied to all manner of phenomena where groups of people expect to see something, and their common desire will create the illusion for them, whether it is ghosts, fairies, or even dragons.
Never dominant, supernatural themes surface intermittently throughout his works. While his novella, The Kappa, is more satiric than supernatural, he discusses some of the contemporary psychic research in Japan. In Yabuno Naka, the dead speak through a type of Japanese medium. Other works have tangential references to magic such as Aguni no Kami and Christian mythology in Kirisutohoro Shoin Den, which strangely enough is about the former Saint Christopher. H4 dabbles in Chinese magic in Toshishun descri bing how to become a type of Asian magi or seinin.
The Chinese had their own complex schools of alchemy and alchemical writings that long preceded their Western counterparts. Their research dates back to the second century AD. The object of their study was to make the adept into a living elixir, the transmutation of metals and the quest for eternal life were mere fall outs of the quest for enlightenment. Chinese alchemists divided the chemical world into yin and yang substances. They believed that the right combinations of yin and yang would produce the desired chemical results. The alchemist can also control space and time, and even bring time to end, a theme that reoccurs in popular culture such as Japanese manga. In so doing, the alchemist places himself outside ordinary reality and achieves timelessness or immortality. Like Western alchemical literature, Chinese alchemists wrote their texts in a code that only the other initiates would understand. The average man was not allowed to tamper with the inner workings of the cosmos. In the Liaozhai tale, "Joining the Immortals," the hero finds an alchemical nail that when pounded into an object, transmutes it to gold. H4 quickly becomes quite wealthy from this discovery. Giles noted that leading a pure and forthright life as a Taoist, inevitably leads to alchemical knowledge, itself being an ancient religion or belief system.
Susan Napier makes much of the :"ideological alien" in Japanese fantastic literature. The primary motif is the transformation of the human face into a monstrous one. The film Tetsuo: Iron Man is a modern retelling of the myth, where a man finds himself transforming into a metal creature better adapted to the glass and steel of modern Japan.
The Japanese god of evil. His name means "The August Star of Heaven". This may be compared to the meaning of Lucifer, "Lord of Light."
Writings of Chinese philosopher Confucius. Frequently cited by Chinese skeptics, it mentions his avoidance of the supernatural as a subject for discussion, "subjects on which the Master did not talk were... weird (extraordinary) happenings... disorder and spiritual beings." (See Willoughby-Meade, Chinese Ghouls and Goblins, p. 211). While respecting the supernatural, Confucius distanced himself from the whole controversy.
Animals play an important role in Asian horror. The great Taoist writer, Tan Chiao praised the instinctive intellect of animals and to this, he attached the significance of the animal ways of man, instinct, mating, territory, and child-rearing. To him, man is an animal. In the West, humans transform into animals, but in Asia, it is typically the other way around. An example of this connection is the Asian cousin of the were-wolf, the were-tiger. Often in folklore, tigers bound into rooms, strip their fur and transform into humans. Many other strange transformation occur. One famous example is the fox maidens (q.v.) of China, and later Korea and Japan. One of the most bizarre is the Japanese Vampire cat of Nabeshima, written up in two different English sources. Other unusual shape-shifters are is the were-snake and the were-bear. In Vampires, Burial and Death, the author conjectures that foxes and wolves are thought be supernatural because of their association with graveyards. These creatures have been known to be attracted to burial sites, and they have been known to eat human corpses. See also Zoanthropy.
Japanese animated film. Anime is frequently a medium for horror, usually adapted from popular horror manga. This conveyance of horror is arguably the best known outside of Asia. See Akira, Bio Hunter, Darkside Blues, Demon City Shinjuku, Devil Hunter Yohko, Doomed Megalopolis, Judge, Ogre Slayer, Saran Eyes, Urotsukidoji, Wicked City.
Japanese word meaning literally "the world far over there." The Japanese use three degrees to express spatial relationships: nearby, over there and way over there. This extends into the occult world wherein anoyo is the other world, the nether world, the world of spirits, i.e. the world way over there.
A hermitage for a Buddhist monk, frequently the scene of ghost tales where the monk's ghost invites the unwary for a night's shelter.
The practice of eating human flesh during occult rituals. See ghouls.
Cannibalism. See ghouls.
Large non-poisonous snakes prominently featured in Japanese occult art. (See Addiss, Japanese Ghosts and Demons).
Noh play in which jealousy makes woman a living ghost or wraith. Based on a chapter from the classic Genji Monogatari, a malignant spirit possesses Genji's wife, the Lady Aoi. Genji summons a shrine maiden, or Miko, adept in the art of azusa, a method of determining if the spirit is from a dead or living person. The Miko plays music on a bow made from the azusa tree. The beautiful sound draws the spirit out of Lady Aoi. After a raft of complaints, the spectre finally announces that she is none other than the Lady Rokugo, who possessed Lady Aoi out of extreme jealousy. (See Kusano, Weird Tales of Old Japan)
A recurring theme in Japanese horror is the depiction of apocalypse and doom. Stemming from the atomic bomb attacks on the sacred soil of Japan, this theme appeared in mainstream literature with numerous books on the bomb and the aftermath. The popular culture extended the idea into the future combined with a curious kind of scientific pessimism started by Japanese biologist Oka Asajiro. Heavily influenced by Darwin and Buddha, in 1909, Oka proposed a theory that mankind was inevitably doomed. His brain and hands, the tools that made him superior to the other animals, would eventually work against him. While he could not accurately predict when the human race end, its utter extermination was a given. This notion is harmonious with the Buddhist precept of the transience of life. The unavoidable end is coming and Oka pointed to his era's moral decay and overcrowding as irrefutable evid ence. It is "the law of life and death." The fittest survives and the weaker ones pass away.
Japanese science fiction writer. Like many SF writers, Aramaki is difficult to fit within a single genre. His romanticism as well as his broad interest in the occult and mythology places some of his work with the scope of horror.
Award-winning Japanese science fiction and fantasy writer and translator. Born in Tokyo in 1947, he is a law school graduate. A prominent member of the SFWJ, he ventured into horror fiction in several books: Masho Antlion, Shinpi-gaku Mania, Honcho Genso Bungaku Engi, and Horror Shosetsu Kogi. He translated several weird novels into Japanese, including William Hope Hodgson's House on the Borderland and Abraham Merritt's Ship of Ishtar. He is best known in the West for Doomed Megalopolis, made into a live action motion picture and a multi-volume animation based on one his novels, Teito Monogatari (Imperial Capitol Story). It is a modern retelling of the Japanese legend of Tairo Masakado, a Japanese warrior who lost his life fighting on the Kant( plains where Tokyo is today. His deranged spirit returns to wreak vengeance on modern Japan. He is supposed to be the cause of the 1923 Kant( Earthquake and other catastrophes. Strangely enou gh, one of the main characters of Aramata's story is Kadokawa H4ruki of giant publishing house, Kadokawa Shoten. More recently, his book, Alexander's War Chronicles, was adapted into an animation series for television. Directed by Peter Chung, who created Aeon Flux shown on MTV, it is a weird fantasy of ancient Macedonia. It combines historical persons, such as King Phillip, Ptolemy and Aristotle, with fictitious ones, including a cult of Pythagorean sorcerers. It was prominently premiered at the Tokyo Fantastic Film Festival in 1998 and two episodes were shown at the first Long Beach State University Anime Fest ival in 1999. H4 also wrote a non-fiction book on the origin and significance of horror novels entitled Horaa no shousetsu kogi. It covers the history of horror from the Grand Guignol of old Paris to modern Japanese series such as The Ring and its sequels. He applied his wide knowledge of the field to make what he calls a "natural history of horror." He has also written non-fiction works on natural history, ornithology and an encyclopedia of the occult.
Contemporary Japanese horror writer. Appearing in the Kadakawa Horror Bunko series, she is the author of Aidokusha (Subscriber) that was made into a television movie. The novel's theme is reincarnation, and it involves a mystery writer's recurrent dream of a drowning child.
Japanese novelist. Published in the Kadokawa horror series, Aratsu's novel, Wedding Guest, has a drowned brother return after 20 years to wreak a ghastly vengeance.
Architecture plays a significant role in horror. Ghostly phenomena is closely tied to all types of structures besides the standard haunted house, such as haunted inns (e.g., Pu Songling's "The Resuscitated Corpse"), roadhouses, palaces (e.g., Hearn's "The Story of Ch(gor(") and bridges. Supernatural beings congregate around older structures especially when they are historically tied to their fate.
Japanese visual art is rich in supernatural beings, ghosts, and goblins. It is no coincidence that almost all the books on the supernatural in Japan are well illustrated. Foremost of these is Japanese Ghosts and Demons by Stephen Addiss, an outstanding work on this subject. Ghosts and the Japanese by Michiko Iwasaka and Barre Toelken reproduces 19 fine works of Japanese ghost art, and Nikolas Kiej'e's Japanese Grotesques is a descriptive catalog of over one hundred supernatural illustr ations. Many of Japan's greatest artists turned to the macabre for inspiration. The great artist, H4roshige, made a painted of a garden of skulls, inspired by a scene in the Heiki Monogatari. Yoshitoshi and Utagawa spent a large portion of their careers recreating the great horrid scenes of Japanese legends. Even the great Hokusai displayed a healthy interest in portraying the grotesque and the supernatural. The tradition continues today both in the fine arts and among the many horror manga artists. See also P ainting, Magical.
Noel Carroll's aesthetic explanation for the popularity of horror culture. Carroll's book, The Philosophy of Horror, raises and discards one theory of horror after another until he settles on art horror, the appreciation of horror as an art form. Robert C. Solomon's article "The Philosophy of Horror, or Why Did Godzilla Cross the Road," criticizes this viewpoint as too narrow to explain all the manifestations of horror and declares that aesthetics is the last resort of the critic. The art horror has its merits but it overlooks the baser motives of horror appreciation: adrenaline and sadism.
A common device in horror stories is the verifying artifact. The source of horror or supernatural entity may be gone but some mark or indicator remains behind as "proof." One example is a shapeshifter is wounded or disfigured in one state and carries over the disfigurement in another, evidencing the two dissimilar beings are the same. The artifact is not always a physical thing. In Nakajima's "The Mummy," the artifact is the modern protagonist speaking ancient Egyptian, as proof that somethi ng inexplicable happened to him.
Early Edo period Japanese writer and art critic (c. 1610-1690). Prolific Japanese author who lived in Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto, later joining a Buddhist order. He is famous for Ukiyo-e Monogatari (Tales of the Floating World). Another of his books, Otogi boko (The Protective Doll, 1660), has significant supernatural elements. Donald M. Richardson translated some of Asai's ghost stories in the 1993 collection Minder-Wench.
Ueda Akinari's classic tale from Ugetsu Monogatari, filmed as Ugetsu (Directed by Mizoguchi, 1953). Predecessor of Hearn's tale, "The Reconciliation," it is the story of man who returns to his abandoned wife, has a joyful reunion, falls asleep beside her and wakes to find that she has been long dead.
Japanese novelist of occult horror. He is noted for the book, Evil Warship from Beyond, which involves East China Sea ghost warships and the Self Defense Forces dreadful "SSB-Plan." He contributes to the Kadokawa Horror Bunko book series, including his Evil Phantom Creature. He wrote the Cthulu Mythos novel, Queen of K'nyan.
Japanese mystery writer (b. 1958). He writes for Kadokawa and is also a contributor to the Japanese Cthulhu mythos.
Sh(jo horror manga creator. She did Deimosu no hanayome (Demon's Bride). It is the story of a demon, Demos, who is in love with a human girl named Minako. She's the reincarnation of his sister, Venus. It is a very popular manga, especially appreciated for its beautiful illustrations.
Earlier scholar and translator of Japanese literature. He translated a long passage from one of Sant( Kyoden's gothic novel, Honch( Suibodai, in his landmark book, A History of Japanese Literature.
Japanese occult researcher. He is noted for his work on Nostradamus, part of the Kadokawa occult book series.
Philippino breed of vampire. It is a beautiful woman by day but a vicious blood-sucking creature at night, preferring children. Like the Hindu chordewa, it can kill its victims by licking their shadow.
One of Japan's most famous mystery short story writer, he is an award winner, usually published by Kadokawa. He is known for sense of black humor. He started writing in 1953 at the age of 18 and has a large body of work to his credit. In addition to mysteries, he also writes science fiction and a bit of horror. The two noteworthy collections of his short stories are Yumhandan (Dream Judgment, pub. 1983) and Atama wa boshi no tami janai (The Head is Not Meant For Wearing H4ts, pub. 1988). One collection of his short stories appeared in English translation in 1993, The Square Persimmon and Other Stories. Three of his short stories also appeared in Living Japanese: A Modern Reader. They are in Japanese but with an adjacent English translation of key phrases.
Apocalyptic symbol common in Japanese popular culture. This historic event triggered a wave of mainstream Japanese novels such as Black Rain and Fires on the Plain. The surviving victims of the bomb, called Hibakusha, are the subject of numerous studies. Especially notable in this connection is Mick Broderick's book, H4bakusha Cinema: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Nuclear Image in Japanese Film. The articles in the book cover nuclear holocaust in anime, especially Akira, as well as live action film. In the popular culture, it fathered Gojira (Godzilla) and his Kaiju cousins, and the whole sub-genre of Apocalypse and Doom. In manga and anime, the story of Barefoot Gen is eternal reminder of the pointless horror of nuclear war.
See Ikuta Atsumori.
The vital energy motivating the universe. This pseudo-scientific theory comes from Chinese skeptic, Wang Chung, who tied it to the traditional concept of yin and yang, the positive and negative cosmic forces, eternally in flux. This type of metaphysical energy is the mainspring of many Asian occult stories and frequently appears in comics and animation as blasts of energy emitted by adept humans.
A curious Japanese form of divination. It involves calling out spirits by the playing the string of a bow made from the azusa tree. It is used in the Noh play Aoi no Ue.