Asian Horror Encyclopedia: H



Hagio,  Moto :  Japanese Shōjō comic artist, author of the early vampire saga, Po no ichizoku (The Poe Clan,  published 1972-76), published by Shougakukan in the 1970’s.   Some of her manga is available in English but unfortunately not The Poe Clan.  Shōjō manga expert, Matt Thorn, and Mari Kotani both praised The Poe Clan as a ground-breaking work, both as vampire literature and as a Shōjō comic, accessible to male readers.

The Poe Clan is the story of the child Edgar and his younger sister Mariberu (Marybelle).   The Poe family adopts them at an early age and eventually Edgar discovers that they are a family of vampires.  Since they are traditional vampires who are immortal, they usually wait until physical maturity before inducting a human into their clan, but a crisis causes them to turn Edgar when he is only 14, at the onset of puberty.  Fourteen is a magic age the crops up again and again in Japanese popular culture.  Similar to a reoccurring theme in Ann Rice’s works, Edgar is caught at a pre-sexual age but has adult responsibilities and decisions thrust upon hime.

Hai Nu : A race of aquatic humanoids with some features of fish.  They are also called sea devils because they prey upon sailors.  They are comparable to the “Deep Ones” in the tales of H.P. Lovecraft and related Cthulhu mythos tales.

Haigorei : Japanese term for spirits that attend the living.  They can have good or evil intentions.  Psychics claim they can see these spirits and communicate with them.

Hair : Hair plays a fascinating role in a number of stories.  In “The Reconciliation,” a Japanese tale skillfully retold by Lafcadio Hearn, the hero wakes to see the hair of his long-dead wife and briefly believes that everything is as it was.  The futa-guichi onna is a supernatural woman whose hair feds her buns.  Oiwa's ghostly hair threatens her murderous husband in some versions of the story.  Also in Chinese lore, green hair is one of the hallmarks of a vampire.

Han-ridden ghost : Korean vengeful spirit of one victimized in life and unable to rest.  Han is a Korean term that means resentment for deep injustice, a feeling ingrained in the Korean people.  Korea is inundated with these han-ridden ghost who can only be allayed when the injustice against them has been resolved.

Hanawa, Kazuichi :  Japanese horror manga creator (b. 1942).  Inspired by the surreal manga of Tsuge Yoshiharu, Hanawa’s work first appeared in the avant garde magazine, Garo, in the early 1970’s.  After this, he quickly settled into his style that invokes the atmosphere of Meiji era art prints with the work, Akai Yoru.  In Dreamland Japan, Frederick Schodt cautions against dismissing Hanawa as just another ero guro artist, for his work is “intended as a parody of traditional Japanese values and militarism.”

In his 1994 creation, Ten Sui (Weird Water Spirit), Hanawa uses the ancient Japan legend of the kappa to make a finely drawn tale of horror and fantasy.   Set in medieval Japan, it is a wealth of historical detail: costumes, armor, weapons, architecture and manners.  The kappa itself is a charming creature complete with a liquid0filled indentation on his head.

Hanawa’s later became obsessed with the Heian era.  In Shigisan, he starts off with reproductions from the real late Heian (12th century) scroll , noted for its depiction of a flying granary.  His imaginative adaptation of historical materials and artwork sheds some insight into Japan’s rather murky medieval past. 

Hanawa, Waichi :  Japanese horror manga creator.  She was first known for her “ero guro” (erotic and grotesque) manga and later, she moved on to romance.  One noted work is Nee (Chimera, literally “Fabulous Night Bird”).  Her stark graphical style shows the influence of 19th century Japanese art prints with its use of space and radiance.  

Hanazono, Osamu :  Japanese author.  He wrote Es no hoteishi (Es’s Equation) as his contribution to the Japanese Cthulhu mythos.   

Hanmura, Ryo : Mainly a science fiction writer, Hanmura uses the vampire and werewolf themes in his  novel Ishi no Ketsumyaku  (Veins of the Rock, 1971).  Huge multinational corporations dominate the world with their secret of immortality.    These corporate vampires can confer immortality upon their willing victims, but the twist is that the victim receives a virus that turns him or her into a stone “chrysalis” for hundreds of years before being reborn as an immortal.  Transmitted through sexual intercourse, this virus was introduced to Japan from abroad and is spreading uncontrollably.  The desire for immortality is devastating the new aristocracy of Japanese executives.   For Hanmura, vampirism represents the foreign taint of corporate expansion  upon Japanese culture rather than the demonic religious implications in Western and Christian literature. 

Hannya : The converse of the ubume, this female demon is a baby eater, greatly feared in medieval Japan.  She usually starts life as a beautiful woman whose madness drives her into her demonic state.  The hannya is the subject of a number of Noh plays.

Harada, Munenori : Kadakawa horror series author (b. 1959).  Two of his short novels are Yasahikutte shukoshi baka  and Kiiroi hata no tokoro made.

Hariyama : Literally “Needle Mountain,” this is a special region of Buddhist Hell reserved for children.  Akutagawa’s tale, “The Spider’s Thread” refers to Hariyama.

Haruki Horror Bunko : This is a series of Japanese horror novels and anthologies published by Haruki.  Shimamura Takumi and Aramata Hiroshi are two of the prominent horror authors in this series.

Hashimoto, Jun : Japanese horror writer who wrote Ieyasu’s Legend.

Haurna, Tadanari : Japanese author of  Seiban kaidan jikki, 1970.

Hayakawa, Sumio : Japanese author of Nihon no yokai,  1973.

Heads : Psychological studies have shown that a false disembodied head terrifies primates.   The idea of the head alone must be intrinsically terrifying.

Hearts :  The Chinese and Japanese believed that the human heart was the seat of both emotion and intellect.  In the Liaozhai tale, “Judge Lu,” the Judge removes the protagonist’s heart, an inferior model and eventually replaces it with a better one, that gives him an advantage in life. 

Heike crabs : Japanese legend from the straits of Agame no Seki.  There, after losing a sea battle, many Heike samurai and their attendants drowned themselves in the sea. Thereafter, crabs appeared on the shore with curious marking that look like the faces of samurai warriors.  For this reason, Heike crabs are sacred and never eaten.  There is a Lafcadio Hearn tale about this subject.

Hell : The Asian concept of hell varies from a Hades-like underworld mirroring the land of the living to the terrible Buddhist hell full of hideous tortures. 

Giles wrote that in Chinese lore, spirits from the underworld or the “Chinese Inferno” as he colorfully put it, could return to the land of the living:

The disembodied spirits of the Chinese Inferno are permitted, under certain conditions of time and good conduct, to appropriate to themselves the vitality of some human being, who as it were, exchanges places with the so-called “devil.”  The devil does not, however, reappear as the mortal whose life it has become possessed of, but is merely born again into the world; the idea being that the amount of life on earth is a constant quantity, and be increased or diminished, reminding one in a way of the great modern doctrine of the conservation of energy.

Hengeyokai : Japanese shapeshifting animals, that is animals capable of assuming human form.  This is the converse of the werewolf legend where the human takes animal form.  The most famous of the hengeyokai is the fox, but others are cats, dogs, monkeys, cranes, rats and even spiders.  

Unlike Western creatures such as werewolves, the transformation process is downplayed in the folklore literature.  Hengeyokai transfer between forms almost instantaneously, though when in human form, they often retain some mark of characteristic of their true animal nature.  Western horror springs from the idea of an unclean or alien being, so the transformation where the unclean state takes over becomes the most important feature.  The werewolf sprouts fur and claws in a gradual and sometimes painful process.  Even Mr. Hyde of Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde goes through a number of vicissitudes on his way to his debauched human character.

Hi no tama : This is the Japanese will ‘o the wisp or spirit fire.  This may also manifest itself as a face that appears in an evening bonfire, or a pair of ghostly wrestlers appearing as a ball of fire in the night sky.  In Myths and Legends of Japan, Davis makes a long list of supernatural fires, "ghost-fire, demon-light,  fox-fire, flash-pillar, badger-blaze, dragon-torch and the lamp of Buddha."  To this he adds cemetery flames that emit from graves and wheels of that are messengers from the underworld.   See also Death fire, Kitsune-bi, and Lights.

Hibakusha : Japanese survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom blasts, subject of horrific writings in many novels, stories and manga.  Black Rain, Fires on the Plain, Barefoot Gen, to name a few.  The manga Akira adopted this stream of horror and fostered a long list of post-apocalyptic manga, anime and literature in Japan.  Godzilla is the product of US nuclear H-bomb testing in the South Pacific.

Higashi, Masao : Japanese horror critic (b. 1958) .  He studied literature at Waseda University.  He edited the magazine Gensō Bungaku (Fantasy Studies?).  He wrote the Cthulhu Mythos Dictionary and Gensō Bungaku 1500 Bukku Gaido (Guide to 1500 Fantasy Books).

Higan-bana : A higan-bana is a solstice flower, often an omen of death.

Hino, Hideshi : Contemporary Japanese manga-ka  known in English for his works on hell, “Laughing Ball” (Underground Comics Japan, Blast Books 1996), Panorama of Hell and Hell Baby.  Horrors connected to the Hiroshima blast, a “post-nuclear hell”.  Darkly humorous and shocking, stark black and white imagery, never was black blood so horrid.  He also did Akai Hana (Red Flowers) and Zōroku no Kibyō (Zoroku’s Disease).

Hirai, Kazumasa : Popular writer, Hirai has written numerous series of books that touch on occult or supernatural themes.  One is Okami no Monshoo (Wolf’s Emblem, 1971), featuring a teen-aged wolfman hero.  He attends a tough junior high school dominated by brutal gangs and despite his small size, he quickly becomes the champion of the weak.  One teacher especially supports his work and when she is attacked by would-be rapists, a huge wolf creature emerges to save her.  In this way, he reveals his lycanthropic nature to his teacher and continues his exploits to clean up the school.   Rather juvenile and trite by today’s standards, it was an interesting twist when the story first appeared.

He also wrote the occult action series, Akurei no Joo (Queen of Evil Spirits), and a more recently digital novel called “Moonlight Campus.” 

Hirai, Nobuhide : Japanese novelist, author of Sardines, Kadokawa Horror Novel Prize nominee 1996. 

Hirano, Keichiro : Japanese author (b. 1975).  He wrote Nisshoku (Solar Eclipse) and Ichi-Getsu Monogatari (January Tales).  The former is available in French as L’Eclipse, published by Editions Philippe Picquier.

Hirata, Atsutane :  Japanese thinker, psychic researcher and leader of Restoration Shinto (1776-1843).  He strongly advocated Japanese superiority as the “Land of the Gods.”  He was interested in Western science and was probably the first Japanese to seriously study incarnation and poltergeist with an unbiased eye.  His ideas about psychic training were adapted by the Omoto sect, founded by Deguichi Nao in 1892.

Hirayama,  Yumeaki : Japanese horror novelist (b. 1961).   He is the author of Sinker and Abnormal Pleasure Murder.

Hokusai : Japanese artist (1760-1849).  Famous the world over for his woodblock painting “The Great Wave,” Hokusai often used grotesque and supernatural in his woodblock prints. Influenced by European art, many call him un-Japanese in his work, but his weird art has an unmistakably Japanese inclination.   His fantastic work can be divided between the grotesque and the supernatural.

He mixes grotesqueness with humor.  One such print depicts a giant octopus ravaging two peasants with the clever title,”Kimo ga imo ni naru” (“Their livers become potatoes”).  Japanese supernatural creatures prefer the human liver to other organs.    Another called “Eel Climb” shows Japanese mean climbing up giant eels, an image akin to corporate ladder climbing in the West.

One course, his supernatural work is of more interest here.  In one, he depicts the hideous woman Kasane, murdered by a greedy man, Yoemon, who only married her to get her valuable piece of land.  As a ghost, she killed all of Yoemon’s subsequent brides, until driven to despair he became a priest.  Based on a true story, this tale became the subject of a number of Kabuki plays and as well as Hokusai’s artwork.  His print shows an Oiwa-like woman with wild long hair, a distorted face and a one closed eye.

Hokusai also illustrated the famous story Bancho Sarayashiki which also was a popular Kabuki play.  It shows the ghost of Kiku hovering over a well, almost entirely obscured by her long hair.  She is footless in the style of traditional Japanese ghosts.  A priest sits at the foot of the well, laying her tormented spirit to rest.

In his book on Hokusai prints, James Michener wrote that he believed that Hokusai believed in the supernatural beings he created.  Michener goes on to say that “Hokaisai lived in a demon-riddled world”  and his manga ghost prints, like those described above, are inferior to his “magnificent series of small, squarish prints titled the Hundred Ghost Stories.”   This series is part of a long Japanese tradition that ghosts and demons make a nightly parade.  See also Art, Japanese and Hyaki yakō.

Holy Man of Mount Kouya : Story by Izumi Kyouka

Hōrai : Story that concludes Hearn’s Kwaidan.  Comparable to the prose poems of Lord Dunsany and Clark Ashton Smith, this dreamy passage tells of a fantasy world described in Shin dynasty Chinese texts, though Hearn transcribes all names in Japanese.  It features medicinal herbs that can cure all sickness, including one yōshinshi which can revive the dead.  

Above all, Hearn exalts the atmosphere of Hōrai.  He writes:

Nevertheless there are wonderful things in Hōrai; and the most wonderful of all has not been mentioned by any Chinese writer.  I mean the atmosphere of Hōrai.  It is an atmosphere peculiar to the place; and, because of it, the sunshine in Hōrai is whiter than any other sunshine – a milky light that never dazzles – astonishingly clear, but very soft.  This atmosphere is of our human period: it is enormously old, so old that I feel afraid when I try to think how old it is; and it is not a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen.  It is not made of air at all, but of ghost—the substance of quintillions and quintillions of generations of souls blended into one immense translucency – souls of people who thought in ways never resembling our ways.  Whatever mortal man inhales that atmosphere, he takes into his blood the thrilling of these spirits; and they change the senses within him – reshaping his notions of Space and Time – so that he can see only as they used to see, and feel only as they use to feel, and think only as they used to think.  Soft as sleep are these changes of sense…

In Supernatural Horror in Literature, H.P Lovecraft held that atmosphere was the sine qua non of horror fiction.   Here Hearn writes about the same atmosphere.  The horror tale looks toward the past, as science fiction looks toward the future.  It dredges up man’s early fears, the darkness, the superhuman powers, the terrible beasts.  The fear is also on the border of the sublime.

Horror : In his introduction to Chinese Classic Tales, Karl Kao raises some of the difficulties of comparing Western and Eastern supernatural tales.  In Asia, the author presupposes belief in the supernatural as factual whereas Western culture separates the imagination of the author from the East.  Chinese and Korean ghost stories are often anti-horror in attitude with the message that ghosts are not to be feared.

This raises the question about the real presence of horror in Asian supernatural fiction.  Certainly many individual tales climax in horror, or at least with disgust or the grotesque.  One example  is  “The Iron Mortar,” a tale from Yuan Hun Chin (Tales of Avenging Spirits).    It contains a horrid account of a vengeful ghost repeatedly beating a six year-old boy until he dies. From the same collection, “The Spirit of the River Lo” has a rare moment of genuine horror.  The antagonist is unwittingly entertained by spirits and seeing a drowned boy with blood running from his nostrils, he realizes he has been drinking the boy’s blood.  “The Soul of the Great Bell” and its many variants, features an innocent young girl immersed in molten metal.  “The Snake Wife” from Konjaku Monogatari is grotesque, as well as horrid, in its graphic encounter with a snake succubus.  “The Sword Maker” from the Shou Chen Chi has a boiling cauldron full of human skulls to be used to make a strong sword.

Terror without the element of disgust common to horror is also evident in many tales. Fear of the grotesque can come from abnormal size or description.  In the Shou Chen Chi, a small ghost with huge “mirror sized” eyes terrorizes a man.  The faceless mujina of Japanese lore is equally frightening. 

One common aspect of horror is an unclean or tainted being.  Stories of human-animal transformations and spirit possession abound in Asian horror.  One might conclude that nothing in China is ever as it seems to be.    Besides the ubiquitous fox maiden, there are tales of humans transformed into fish, rats turned human, were-tigers, were-snakes, were-bears, and were-cats.  In older Chinese tales, the turtle, the tortoise and even the otter can take on human form.  “The Vampire Cat of Nabeshima” is a classic example of a unclean creature preying on humans, a Japanese tale with Chinese roots.

The majority of Chinese supernatural tales try to defuse horror.  The bravery of the hero prevails against the horrid creature.  The message “do not be afraid of ghosts” is a frequent theme going back to the strange tales of the Tang Dynasty.  Ghosts have weaknesses and follies like ordinary mortals and can be fooled or defeated by common means.  A thing as simple and common as human saliva is an anathema to them.  Not everyone carries a garlic or wolfbane, but anyone can spit. 

This counter-phobia, as Twitchell calls in Dreadful Pleasures, plays an important cultural role in allaying the most prevalent ghost of all, anxiety.  Fear and anxiety projects itself on the imagination in ghostly and horrid forms, and the storyteller shows how to overcome fear.  Horror tales are an inoculation to toughen the psyche.  The fantasy artist Patrick Woodrolfe said that whether he put his inner demons on paper, they died.

Horror culture : The interdisciplinary study of horror has been a field of growing academic interest.  In 1999, The International Research Center for Japan Studies in Kyoto, Japan sponsored a research project called, “The Historical Formation and Evolution of Horror Culture in Japan.”   The aim of this research was to study “tales and phenomena of the ’strange,’ such as apparitions, goryo, and monsters.”   This was to be a broad study encompassing “history, religion, literature, art, performing arts, geography, cosmology, architecture, and gender research.” 

Hosono, Fujihiko : Japanese manga creator.  He is noted here for his horror titles Judge and Bio Hunter both adapted in anime versions available in the West.

Hsi Yu Chi : Journey to the West, a 16th century Chinese fantasy novel attributed to Wu Cheng-en.  Based on a seventh century travelogue of a Chinese monk, Hsuan Tsang (596-664), who traveled to India, this satiric book is a catalogue raisonné of supernatural beings and entities from Chinese mythology.  The hero, also named Hsuan Tsang has great magical powers and he encounters demons, dragons, monsters, fairies, and the notorious Monkey King, Sun Wu Kung.  The latter is a great hero in Chinese lore.  Though a monkey, he can speak and reason like a man, and he has tremendous occult powers as well.

It spawned a sequel or supplement called A Tower of Myriad Mirrors by Tung Yueh (1620-1686).

Hsu Chi Hsieh Chi : A sequel to the Chi Hsieh Chi by Wu Chun.

Hsu, Ti-shan : Chinese scholar  (Xu Dishan) (1893-1941).  In the 1930’s, he was Professor of Chinese Literature at Yenching (Yanjing) University in Beijing.  The Library of Congress attributes a collection of ghost stories to him: Hsn Ti-shan ling i hsiao shuo / Sung I-ch`iao hsnan pien.  He is known for his religious studies and his connection of the I Ching with occult antecedents.  He connected it with Chinese witchcraft, numerology, astrology, and the doctrine of the five elements.

Human Chair : Edogawa Rampo’s frequently anthologized tale,.  It reprints a letter to give it credibility, and the twist ending ironically makes the absurd seem plausible.

Hua Yang : Tenth century Chinese fox maiden who came from India.  While in India, she bewitched King Pan-Tsu and persuaded him to kill over a 1000 innocent people for her amusement.  According to legend, she fooled some of the Indian princes into thinking she was a goddess. 

In China under the name of Pau-su or Pao Shih, she joined the court of Emperor Yu, 12th Emperor of the Chou Dynasty.    She eventually becomes his queen and mesmerizes him into performing hideous tortures on their innocent subjects.  Through her terrible abuses, the Chou dynasty falls.  Legend says that she reappeared in 12th century Japan under the name, Tamomo no Mae.

Humor :  Literary critics from Baudelaire onward have suggested a strong connection between horror and humor.  Certain this is clear in the popular culture, but it also holds true with Asian horror.  Reginald Blyth’s substantial work, Oriental Humor, contains strong chapters on Chinese and Japanese ghost stories.  Both the Chinese and Japanese ghost story tradition have large streaks of sardonic humor, human folly and conversely humans’ outsmarting the supernatural.

In English, Victorian ghost stories were often humorous with the didactic aim of disarming the power of the supernatural over the imagination.  John K. Bangs based his whole on tales making fun of spirits and their tender sensibilities.  Even the usual staid Baring-Gould wrote a story of a ghost who haunted a boring museum and wished to be transferred to a lively pub.  Lewis Carroll wrote a narrative poem about a wavy spirit who did not get on very well in ghost land.   The list extends into the twentieth century where it grows far beyond all explanation.

Blyth argues that humor and ghost stories both deal with death.  Man desires to have a life after death but fears the threshold of pain and the loss of the body.  The invention of the afterlife or the other world is a comfort but it has nothing to do with science or knowledge.   Blyth calls ghost stories neither fiction nor non-fiction but an “expression of the will of man, which is poetic, humorous and deathly.” (p 40)

To back up his claim, he presents a summary of “The Woman with a Flying Head,” a tale from the Shou Chen Chi  This weird tale inspires more humor than horror with the detachable flying by flapping its ears.  It escapes the room through the window or any crevice large enough to admit a large bird.

Hung, Mai : Chinese literary critic and ghost story collector (1123-1202).  He was the author of  Jung-chai sui-pi wu-chung tsung-ho yin-te.

Hyaki-yakou : Nightly parade of one hundred demons.  A common theme of Japanese art and literature, starting the Heian period.  A 14th century scroll of this subject is noted for its horrid contents. A good example is the work of Toriyama Sekien..  Toriyama frequently painted ghosts, demons and goblins, collecting them in illustrated books such as Hyakkiyagyo (One Hundred Ghosts) and Zoku Hyakki.

After Toriyama came Hokusai, Yoshitoshi and Utagawa.  The Meiji Era boasted of  Kyosai Kawanabe (1831~1839) an outstanding ghost painter, who created “Gyosai Hyakki Gadan” published posthumously.

A hyaki-yagyō is a scroll depicting this parade of demons, starting with the 14th century scroll in Shinju Temple, Kyoto.  Many of the demons are mononoke spirit-infested inanimate objects, especially discarded kitchen implements or containers returning to haunt the home that cast them out.

Hyaku-mongatari : Japanese game of telling 100 ghost stories, extinguishing one of 100 lit candles after each.  After 100 tales, the audience is sitting total darkness.  (see Addiss. Japanese Ghosts and Demons)