Asian Horror Encyclopedia: K



Ka Such no Kami :  The seven Japanese gods who rule the underworld.  They are responsible for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Kabuki : In  “Realism in Kabuki in the Early Nineteenth Century”, Paul Kennelly makes the curious suggestion that the Japanese included the supernatural world in Kakubi plays to make them more “realistic.”  He writes:

The persistence of indigenous supernatural themes from earliest times marks Japanese theatre indicates a familiar acceptance of certain beliefs that western theatre would regard as “illusion”. In fact, Japanese dramatists of the eighteenth century seem to have considered “realism” as the faithful depiction of life and nature which necessarily included the supernatural in a harmonious combination. Popular beliefs determined the character of “realism” in Japanese life which placed persons “in contact with the invisible, with a world of spirits, gods, ghosts, and archetypes.”

Kadokawa Horror Bunko : Popular Japanese series of horror novels, anthologies, and manga.  It encompasses a wide view of horror with actual books about serial killers, detective fiction, Shōjo manga and even science fiction.   It includes translates of many foreign horror writers including Dean Koontz and Stephen King.

Key Japanese horror novelists write for Kadokawa.  It includes such influential writers as Sena Hideaki, author of Parasite Eve,  Suzuki Koji. (The Ring), Kishi Yusuke, Tezuka Osamu, and Suzue Michi.

The Kadokawa Shoten Horror Novel prize is one the best publicized in Japan.

Kageyama, Kiyomi : Japanese horror novelist.  Author of Borneo Hotel, the story of nine people in a haunted building, shut off from the world.  Poison insects, flying furniture and demonic possession are just some of the perils they face.  In the White House, journalist-turned-novelist Saiki moves into the house to have a peaceful place to write, but he uncovers its dark secrets.

Kageyama, Tamio :  Japanese fantasy novelist (1947-2000) recently died in a suspicious fire in his home.  A college drop out, he was the winner of the prestigious Naoki Prize for his fantasy novel, Toi umi kara kita coo , (The Baby Dinosaur Coo from the Far Off Sea).  He had two titles under the Kadokawa horror imprint, Borneo Hotel and The White House.

Kahara, Kouzou : Japanese writer.  He wrote the original story that the movie Ama no Bakemono Yashiki (Girl in Monster Mansion, 1959, dir. Magatani Morihei).

Kaidan :  Japanese for ghost story, formerly transliterated as kwaidan which Lafcadio Hearn used for his famous book of Japanese weird tales.

Kaidan-banashi : Ghost story telling as entertainment.

Kaidan meisaku shu. · Noted ghost story masterpiece collection published in  Tokyo by Nihon Meicho Zenshu Kankokai in 1927.  It has stories from Ugetsu monogatari and Chinese sources..

Kaiju  : Kaiju are Japanese monsters including Godzilla, Gamera, Mothra, and their relatives.  Despite their status as monsters, they seldom qualify as horror, frightening only small children.

Kajio, Shinji : Japanese author of the horror-fantasy novel Okage  Primarily a science fiction writer, heauthored Cherish The Loco Color, fantasy story collection.

Kakemono : In Japanese traditions, figures on kakemono, or painted scrolls, emerge from the scroll and come to life.  In one case, an entire fishing boat replete with water appeared.   Another is the case of Sawara the artist haunted by his painting of his dead fiancee.  Through deceit and misunderstanding, Sawara married another woman instead of his beloved Kimi.  Before he could prevent it, she cut her throat, and choking back the tears, he sketched her dead body.   This became the basis of a kakemono painting of her.   Emerging from the painting, her ghost visited him every night, until he donated the portrait to a nearby temple.  (Davis.  Myths and Legends of Japan).   See Magical Paintings..

Kakinochi, Narumi : Japanese manga creator (b. 1962).   Originally an animator, she is famous for the long running manga Vampire Princess Miyu.  She combined a shōjo manga style with a fast paced plot and numerous exotic creatures.  Her work appeals to an unusually wide audience.  Other manga of interest are Vampire Princess Yui, Moon Princess and Dahlia the Vampire.  She also wrote an illustrated Vampire Princess Miyu novel, and several collections have her artwork have been published.

Kakitsubata : Noh play in which a priest meets the ghost of Katitsubata (“iris” in Japanese). (Weird Tales of Old Japan)  It’s source is an incident in the Ise Monogatari where a man journeys eastward from the capital to find a home.  He comes across a field of irises that remind him of home.  In the Noh version, a priest so admires the irises that a beautiful woman appears and invites him to her home.  She turns out to be the spirit of the iris and like so many ghostly visions, she and her home disappear by the end of the story.

Kamaitachi : A Japanese monster said to resemble a weasel, literally “sickle weasel.”  They attack their victims in teams, knocking the victim down and slashing him.

Kanagaki, Robun : Japanese humor writer (1829-1894).  Editor of the Kanayomi Shinbun  (1975-1880) and author of Kanagaki Robun no Narita dochuki : Narita dochu hizakurige : fu, Kaidan harusame soshi. Tokyo : Senshusha, 1980. (1984 printing). (O.J. PL777.5 .K3 1984)   A humor writer of the old style, he occasionally lapsed into telling ghost tales, though he failed to make the jump to modern literature.  The painter Yoshitoshi Tsukioka did a series of pictures of the “floating world” based on the traditional stories retold by this author.

Kamata, Sanpei : Japanese translator horror novelist.  Author of Kage no kantai (pub Gakken, Tokyo : 2000, 4-05-900014-0) and a Cthulhu mythos tale,  Alone in the Dark (1995).

Kan, Pao : (fl 315, aka Gan Pao) Chinese author of the Sou-shen Chi (Sou Shen Ji, aka Shoushenchi).  This contains a classic fox tale and also the dreadful tale, “The Girl-Eating Serpent” (aka “Li Chi Slays the Serpent”.  Like many European dragons, the serpent demanded to periodically eat a succulent young girl or it would terrorize the countryside.   The serpent is 70-80 feet long, 10 feet in diameter with two foot wide eyes.  A local young girl volunteered to sacrifice herself and wielding a sword, attacked the dragon.   This tale is included in two fantasy anthologies Chinese Fairy Tales and Fantasies and the Book of Dragons.

Also in English translation, “The Friend from Beyond,” the story of young man’s whose best friend was ghost.   The young man was a scholar studying under a great master, joined by the ghost, Dark Stone, whose underworld masters sent him there to improve himself for a new post.  Once his presence as a ghost is revealed, Dark Stone has to leave but not before helping his friend’s father.

Though the original work in no longer extant in Chinese, twenty-two surviving selections translated into English from the shou-shen Chi appear in Kao’s Classical Chinese Tales.  Citing the work, Chin shu, Kao wrote that the premature burial inspired Kan Pao to write the Sou-chen chi.  One of his father’s maid’s was discovered to be alive after being entombed for ten days.  Also, his brother appeared to be for several days only to return to life.

Kanai, Mieko : Japanese fantasy writer (b. 1947).  She produces strange and eerie fiction, one appearing in English as “Rabbits” in Rabbits, Crabs, Etc. (ed. Phyllis Birnbaum).

Kanashibari : Kanashibari is a Buddhist spell that renders an opponent immobile.

Kanawa : Yet another Noh play with a supernatural theme.

Kanbayashi, Chouhei ; Japanese science fiction writer who’s book Right Gene Heritage can be considered a horror novel.  It deals with androids akin to Blade Runner replicants with apparent supernatural powers and it extends some of the themes from the seminal horror novel, Frankenstein.  It also raises the question about the physical reality of the human soul.

Kanawa (Iron Ring) :  Japanese Noh play about a spurned ex-wife’s curse on her former husband.  Inspired by an event in the Heike Monogatari, Noh playwright Ze-amin describes the weird ceremony that  turns the woman  into an oni.  Advised by a Shinto priest at a Kifune shrine, she divides her long, black hair into five skeins that make five horns on her head.  Her face and body are paint lead-red and her teeth and eye-brows are blackened.  Three torches are fixed to a trivet placed on her head and two torches are held in her mouth.  When the torches are lit, she truly looks like a demon.  Dressed thus, she goes through a complex occult ritual where she nails a straw doll representing her husband to a tree.   The wind and rain rise up around her and she truly becomes a demon.

In the meantime, her former husband has been having terrible nightmares.   He seeks the advice of the legendary Abe no Seimei who tells him he has been cursed by his ex-wife.  Believing his situation to be hopeless, Seimei agrees to help the man anyway.  He sets up an altar of miniature deities in the ex-husband’s bedroom.  When the oni comes in the room, brandishing a whip, the deities admonish her and she turns into a harmless, ethereal deity.  The man has no more nightmares.

Used primarily by female ninja, the kanawa is a rope with iron rings attached at either end, used to capture enemies.  The iron ring is as a sharp as a knife on both its inner and outer sides.   (Weird Tales of Old Japan)

Kappa : The kappa is a Japanese supernatural creature of Japanese folklore with a number of variations.  Originally from the Shinto religion, it is a water-dwelling goblin, which explains its other name, kawako (“River Child”).  It has the head of a monkey or young human with the limbs of a frog and a tortoise shell body.  In one variation, its head has a hollow containing a liquid that gives it its strength, that it can lose by bowing politely.

Another variation is the blood sucker. The traditional vampire creature is curiously absent from older Japanese lore, but this kappa comes close.  Strangely, it sucks blood through its anus with livestock as its usual victims.  Other variations are more typical of Japanese goblins: theft, raping women and eating human livers.

The kappa appears in strange places in Japanese writing.  Popular folklore writer, Hino Ashibei, wrote a study of the kappa.  He also used the pen name “Kappa” for much of his writing.   Akutagawa wrote a short story entitled “The Kappa” but it falls more in the realm of satire than the supernatural.

Today the kappa common appears in Japanese fiction, animation (Urusei Yatsura, Tenchi Universe, Blue Seed, v. Poitras Anime Companion.), toys and art.  In Richard Lupoff’s fantasy novel, The Sword of the Demon, the heroine has a sword fight with  vicious kappa as they board her vessel.

Karakasa : Japanese oil-paper umbrella often animated by supernatural means, see Ghosts and inanimate objects.

Karasawa, Naoki : Japanese manga creator.  Author of several Cthulhu mythos related comics including “Rakuda” (Camel, 1990) and “Zoro Zoro” (“Succession”, 1990).

Kasa obake : Japanese umbrella demon.  In Japan, utensils are thought to have their own souls or tamashī.  See Ghosts and Inanimate Objects.

Kasha : Japanese ghoul.  It usually lives near crematoriums and tries to feed on the dead before they are burned.

Katawaguruma : Japanese female ghost distinguished by moving from place to place as a wheel of flame.

Kawabata, Yasunari  : Highly acclaimed Japanese author (1899-1972).   Like many authors, Kawabata used the supernatural as a device in some of his short story, though he never resorted to horror.  In his short story “Fushi,” he portrays the ghost of an old man talking to the ghost of a young woman who just committed a love suicide.  Her lover eventually joins them in death but the focus is on living not the death and dissolution theme of Poe and his literary heirs.

Kayama, Shigeru : (1909-75) Little known in the west, this Japanese treasury bureaucrat originated the two most famous Japanese horror creations: Gojira (Godzilla) and Mothra.  He believed in the romantic notion of the noble savage corrupted by the onslaught of civilization, a common subtheme of Japanese horror films.

Kayoi Komachi : Noh play about 100 nights of ghostly visitation and mysterious death (Weird Tales of Old Japan)  In Keene’s Twenty Plays of the Noh Theatre, Pound’s The Classic Noh Theatre of Japan and Teele’s Ono no Komachi.

Kazami, Jun :. Horror anthology editor, translator.  She is author of many Cthulhu mythos books, including the series called Cthulhu’s Opera that had five volumes published from 1980 to 1997and  also Zombie Watcher.

Kechou : This 1897 short story by Kyouka Izumi, a beautiful winged woman saves a boy from drowning in a river.  Susan Napier compares this supernatural creature to the Western chimera.

Keh Hung : Chinese writer (290-370).   Also known as Ko Hung, he wrote the book, Shen Hsien  Chuan (Accounts of Immortals).  .A minister in the court of Emperor Yuan, he was to said to become an immortal.

Keshō : Japanese goblin.

Kiang-shi : Chinese corpse animated by an evil spirit (also romanized as chiang-shi and giang-shi).  See Vampires.

Kibyoshi :  Japanese illustrated books printed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries noted for their yellow covers and their often sensational contents.  These books were a hybrid of the rich Japanese visual culture and storytelling tradition.  Often the readers were familiar with the images of the heroes long before they could read the story.

Kiji : A bird, usually a pheasant, thought to be the soul of a recently deceased woman.  The bird as the symbol of the departing soul of the dead is common to many cultures.

Kijo : Yet another breed of Japanese ogres.  This one prefers to live in the woods.

Kiku Mushi : Japanese tale from the MimiBukuro wherein a falsely accused maid, Kiku, was put to death by being thrown in a well with her hands bound.  Later, golden bugs emerged from the well that looked like a woman with her hands bound behind her.  This tale is similar to another tale of Kiku who was falsely accused of losing or breaking the tenth plate (Banshu Sarayashiki).  This tale was made into a Noh play.  The Kiku Mushi tale resembles the legend of Heike crabs whose underside resemble the angry faces of samurais who committed mass suicide in the sea.

Kikuchi, Hideyuki : Japanese horror novelist.  He is  famous for Youjū Toshi (Supernatural Beast City) which was made into a Hong Action movie.  He also wrote the original novel of the Vampire Hunter D (1983) plus its many sequels and the novel of a post-apocalyptic saga, known in the West as A Wind Named Amnesia.  He wrote the scenario or story for many Japanese comics, including the manga version of Dark Side Blues, not to mention the novel, Demon City Shinjuku, and the story of Wicked City, all of which appeared as anime in the US.

The original Vampire Hunter D novels have considerable lycanthropic and the vampiric lore, largely borrowed from the West.  There is an older anime based on the novel and a new version is expected to come out soon.

He wrote D—Kurai Nokutaan (D—Dark Nocturne, 1992) which is a collection of three short stories involving Vampire D and vampire hunters.  The vampire world is full of conflicting vampire clans, nobility, medieval castles and exotic technology.  The first, “Dark Nocturne”, features a strange song that the vampires use to lure young girls.  The second, “Notes on Imagined Autumn,” is a tale of premonition and humans turning against humans.  The final tale “Legend of the War Demons,” has the vampire clan’s ultimate weapon and a beautiful witch who is genetically encoded to have great powers.

He has written many popular novel series for the Kadakawa Horror Bunko.   These include the following books with the literal, .i.e. unofficial translation of the title: Masenki (Demonic War Record),  Makai Issha Mefisto (Mepisto: Doctor from Hell), and Inmaen (Decadent Evil Feast).  The stories are often set in Shinjuku and London.  They have action-based plots with heavy emphasis on Western occult lore with occasional science fiction features added, such as time travel.

He also wrote the Cthulhu mythos tale, “The Witch God’s Groom” and the Mythos books Yig (The Beautiful Evil God) and The Evil Gourmet.

Kim Man-Choong : Korean classical writer (1637-1692 approx).  Also known as Kim Man-Jung, he was author of the novel, Kuumong (The Cloud Dream of the Nine, ca. 1689).   Set in the magical Tang Dynasty in the mid 800’s, this romance novel about polygamy is immersed in supernatural phenomena with genii, angelic boys, fairy maidens from hell, mermaids and disembodied spirits throughout.

Kimon : Japanese Gate of Demons.  Derived from the Chinese taboo gate where oni and the souls of the dead pass from realm to realm, it is associated with a specific direction and astrological significance.  The Kimon has been a part of Japanese occult science since the earliest days of its recorded history.

Kishi, Yusuke : (b. 1956) Japanese horror writer, author of the 1997 bestseller,  Black House, a bloody tale of psychotic murder and madness.  Yoshimitsu Morita made the book into a film by the same name in the year 2000.  Another one of his novels is called Isola,  which won the Kadokawa Shoten Japanese Horror Novel Grand Prize for 1996.  Another of her books is called Blue Fire.

Kishida, Masao/Michio : The Last Child and The Water Lover’s Story.

Kitsune : Japanese fox, frequently supernatural being transforming into beautiful woman, as in Chinese lore.  It possess human beings, usually women, entering through the chest or fingernails.   The victim is said to have fox madness or kitsunetsuki.

Kitsunetsuki : Mental illness based on the Japanese folk belief in fox spirits.   The sufferer beliefs that he or she are possessed by a fox spirit.

Kitsune-bi : Japanese fox fire.  Kitsune-bi is a  supernatural, phantom fire, usually involved by a sorcerer or other adept.  Watanabe Masako created a manga call Aoi Kitsune-bi (Blue Fox Fire).

Kobayashi,  Yasumi : Japanese writer.  Meat Diet Residence .  Toy Repairman.  She wrote a three story collection called “Doctoring Humans with Animals”, a set of three cautionary a la Island of Doctor Moreau.  The first story involves transplanting pigs’ organs that human genes back into human beings.  Pigs and humans become hard to distinguish.   Sounds like Orwellian satire via Animal Farm.  The second story is “Hunting the Vampire,” yet another vampire tale and the third is about transplanting the “ultimate art” into the human brain.  More biological horrors from Japan.

Koga, Shinichi : Contemporary Japanese horror manga creator and screenwriter.  He deals with black magic in Ekoeko azeraku, filmed as Misa the Dark Angel, one of the best series of  haunted high school  books and film.

One of his comic book is an adaptation from Edogawa Rampo, Kage Kemono (Shadow Beast,1984 Kodansha).  Also Noroi no Suzu no On (Sound o f the Cursed Bell(?)1984 Kodansha ).

Kogure, Masao, Japanese writer (b. 1939).    Oitokebori.  He wrote the children’s ghost story book Otona no buruburu Yokaibanishi (literally: Grown-up’s Shivering Ghost Stories).

Koike, Mariko : Japanese mystery writer (b. 1952).  Like so many other mystery writers, she often delves into the realm of horror or the supernatural.

Kokaji :  Japanese swordsmith aided by a fox deity (see Weird Tales of Old Japan)

Komatsu, Kazuhiko :  Japanese scholar of Asian folk religions.  A professor at the International Research Center for Japan Studies since 1997, Komatsu has written several books on occult subjects, including Kami Kakushi (Spirited Away), Hyorei Shinko Ron (Spirit Possession in Japanese Society), Yokaigaku Shinku (Rethinking Japanese Demonology) and Shuten-doji no Kubi (Shuten-doji’s Head).  His article on spirit possession of everyday objects is available in English in the Japan Foundation’s newsletter.

Komatsu, Sakyō :  Japanese bestselling novelist (b. 1931).  Known in the West for Japan Sinks which was filmed.. Basically a science fiction writer, Komatsu made a least two excursions into horror: Onryo no kuni. (lit. Country of Vengeful Ghosts, 1977) and reviewed in Fanroad (May 1981) Mienai nonokake (lit. Phantoms, Don’t Look!) . Worte the novel Virus/Fukkatsu no hi filmed in 1980.  He is a member of the SFWJ.

Kompaku : Japanese ghost, spirit or soul.

Konaka, Chiaki : Japanese writer, best known for Serial Experiments Lain psycho-horror anime.  He also wrote a Cthulhu mythos story for the anthology Cthulhu’s Strange Record and adapted Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” for Japanese television” called Insmus wo Oou Kage (1992)..  He added some Lovecraftian influence to the Ultraman Tiga  Bandai Visual television production.  He wrote the Cthulhu mythos story, “A Walk in the Abyss” for the Horror Wave anthology and  ”God” in Fantastic Collection 12.

Konaki jiji : Japanese traditional monster, literally, crying old man.  He appears as a baby crying by the roadside.  When a passerby tries to help him, he resumes his normal huge size and crushes the passerby.  He is found in folklore as well as in Mizuki Shigeru’s Gegege no Kitarō manga.

Konjaku Monogatari : Huge  Heian period collection of imaginative Japanese tales containing some ghost stories.  Originally 31 volumes of which 28 are extant.  They almost all begin with “ima wa mukashi” which is similar to the English “once upon a time”.  Has the original source tale for Akutagawa’s “Rashomon”.  Contains several fox maiden tales of note.

Konno, Ensuke : Japanese writer.  He is noted for Nihon Kaidan Shu: Yurei Hen (Collected Japanese Ghost Stories: Sinister Spirits, 1969)  It contains many allegedly true stories about taxi cab drivers transporting ghosts and haunted railroad and automobile accident sites.. 

Korea :  Not as well known as Japan or China, Korea’s culture has its own unique take on horror.  Influenced by Chinese legends, Korean supernatural lore takes on its own dimensions.  Korean literature rarely appears in English, so Korean horror is only known indirectly through horror novels converted into film.  The situation in Korea may well be worse than Chinese with the heavier Korean emphasis on the didactic and the lack of translation of Korean literature into European languages.

Modern Korea is experiencing a horror boom in its movies and television.  Their titles tell the story: The Quiet Family, The Horrible Story in Girls’ High School  and on TV: Mystery Theatre, Hometown of the Legend and Into the Story.  Unusual for a Korean film, The Horrible Story follows the Japanese tradition of setting horror stories in a school, with pretty young girls possessed by the vengeful spirits, stabbing teachers and otherwise causing mayhem.  It silently criticizes the Korean school system.  The Quiet Family is also an atypical horror film, invoking more laughter than shivers from the protagonist’s outrageous recklessness.

Ghostly cinema goes back a long way in Korea.  From Korean folklore (probably originally Chinese) , the female spirit, Goo Mi Ho, made her screen debut in 1924.  An appealing shapeshifter, Goo Mi Ho wandered the night, with her long black hair and flowing  white nightgown.  The Tale of Jang-Wha started a long series of Korean films featuring long haired seductresses in night clothes:  he Beauty’s Public Cemetery, The Grudge of the Daughter in Law, and The Headless Female Killer, to name a few.

See also Chongun hongnyōn chōn, Egg, Fox Girl, Han-ridden ghost, Im Bang, Lee Woo-hyuk,  Legend of Zon U-Czi, Kim Man-Choong, Necromancer, Pak Yong-gu, Sadism, Song Ok, Soul of the Great Bell, Succubi, Tokkaebi, Yi Ryuk.

Korobokuro : unfriendly jungle-dwelling race of Japanese lore.

Kosakai, Futobu : (1890-1929) Japanese writer.  Noted for his detective fiction, influenced horror writers.

Kotani, Mari : (b. 1958) Japanese fantasy and SF writer, member SFWJ.  Contributed article to Blood Read with the imposing title, “Techno-Gothic Japan:From Seishi Yokomizo’s The Death’s-Head Stranger to Mariko Ohara’s Ephemera the Vampire.” (Evangelion connection!)

Kozu, Kazuo : Japanese author of  short story “Hebimusune to hakuhatsukiwhich was filmed as The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch/Hebimusume to hakuhatsuki; 1968.

Ku, Ying-t’ai : 1620-1690  Chinese historian / ghost story collector (?)

Kuei : Chinese ghost or demon, some represented as “gui” in Chinese pinyin.   Willoughby-Meade calls them reanimated corpses, often blood-drinking vampires.   Traditional Chinese religion has them as individuals trapped between this world and the next because they were improperly buried or the necessary rituals were performed at the funeral.   The Chinese have many types of talismans to protect themselves from kuei and the entrances many Chinese buildings have a shadow wall or baffle to discourage kuei from visiting.

Kuei ku tzu : Chinese philosopher who collected ghost stories.  He became a Chinese god of fortune tellers (?).

Kumo : Man-eating Japanese giant spider whose stomach contained 1900 human skulls.

Kuni nushi : Japanese god of witchcraft.

Kuntilanak : Indonesian ghost of  a woman who died in childbirth.  She’s distinguished by a hole in her stomach and she wanders looking for her lost baby or young men.

Kurahashi, Yumiko :  (b  1940).  Kurahashi is a noted Japanese  SF/Fantasy writer.  She has one collection of short stories translated into English, The Woman with Flying Head. Gothicism via Poe and Hoffman influenced Kioden, Kyoka, Rampo, Tanizaki, Akutagawa and countless other Japanese writers  She shows the influence of Edgar Allan Poe, especially in tales like “The House of the Black Cat.”

The transformation in “The Trade” comes closest to Western horror traditions.  Like many horror fantasies, Kurahashi uses the story-within-a-story framing techniques to build credibility.  The narrator mets a man who she calls Mr Akujo after a goblin character common to Noh dramas.   His face is unforgettably ugly, “beastly and deformed” yet fascinating, even attractive.  He says that girls find his face “distinguished and alluring”.  This is the essence of horror, the attraction of hideous, the disgust of the impure.  Taking the narrator into his confidence, he tells her his story.  He originally had a normal face.  During a visit to a remote mountain village, he enters a cave which this turns out to be another world, a land of immortals straight out of Chinese folklore.  He meets a man who tells him the story of his disturbing nightmare of living masks, another story nested inside the substory.  The transformation of his face is explained briefly  and the ending twists the reader as the horror thrusts through the inner stories.

Strange eroticism holds sway.  The two sisters in “An Extraterrestrial” sleep with the mute, hermaphroditic title character, jealous of the other and utterly uncertain of the creatures inclinations.  The main characters of “We Are Lovers” are two cats who have a lugubrious erotic life with each other and their human owners.  “The Black Cat” is a modern evocation of the seductive cat-woman of Asian lore as well as a gruesome tip of the hat to Poe.  “The Witch Mask” kills the protagonist’s girlfriends in an orgasmic frenzy.  

The most horrific aspect of her work is the sucking darkness.  Reminiscent of Leonid Andreyev’s classic horror tale, “The Abyss”, her characters often face utter nothingness.  In “The Long Passage of Dreams”, the dying old man, Keisaku,  cannot no longer speak clearly enough to be understood.   A supporting character says that “he’s fallen out of the shared world into the abyss of himself.”  Inside reveries of his rotting brain, Keisaku sees a demon who asks him to look down a well.  The demon is showing him sunyata, the void.

The flying head in the title story, “The Woman with the Flying Head,” has a long history in the Chinese and Japanese lore.   Duan Shengshi recorded a  land of people with flying heads.  Willoughby-Meade tells of a slave of Cheneral Chu Huan (177-238) whose head detach while she slept.  They wrapped her headless body in a blanket, so the returning head couldn’t recognize it.  Willoughby-Meade also retells a tale from the Yuan Mei’s pub yu where a vampire has a detachable head, supposedly one that flies.  Kurahashi’s flying heads use their ears to fly and buzz around like giant insects.

For the Western reader, Kurahashi delivers a lot of strangeness in her view of the world as passing phenomena.  The mythic sources connect her work to Asiatic traditions but offer no psychological explanation nor she does she waste time on suspension of disbelief.  The stories themselves represent a tantalizing richness that mostly remains outside our grasp.  The translator did not burden the reader with a packet of scholarly footnotes but the feeling that essential information is missing plagues the reader.  When a Western writer merely mentions Satan, it invokes a massive collection of associations, but reading of “the watcher demon of the spring” only makes vague images of Japanese prints, Noh plays and grotesque masks come to mind, if anything at all.

Kurasaka, Keichiro : Japanese author of the story collection, The Night They Talked About Devils.  It collects four related tales including “The Bottomless Swamp,” the story of a man who finds an old, lost book, and evil device that sweeps him into the swamp.  Kurasaka writes modern horror with the flavor of the classic ghost tale.

Kurasawa, Kichiro : Contemporary Japanese horror writer.  Editor of Frame Kabanebune.  He also wrote the story collection The Night They Talked About Various Devils, four interconnected tales of the supernatural.  One tale is “The Bottomless Swamp,” where a mysterious old book lures a man into malignant swamp.  The author adapts the traditional ghost story motif to a more modern milieu.

Kurimoto, Kaoru : Japanese horror writer.  Noted for her Cthulhu mythos tales and the incredibly long Guin Saga which is projected to have more than 100 volumes!  Her early mythos tales include “Nanatsujin no Mado Dori” (literally “The Evil Road of Seven Men”) and “Makai Sui Koten” (“Hell’s Water Margin”), a Lovecraftian rendition of the Chinese classic novel, The Water Margin.  In 1997, she published Machi (Town) in the prestigious Kadokawa Horror Bunko series.

Kuroiwa, Ruikō :  Translator and horror story adapter.

Kuronuma, Ken, : (b. 1902)   Japanese author. He wrote Kaiki sen’ichiya.  In 1956, He also wrote the original story for the Toho film Sora no daikaijuu: Radon (The Flying Monster Rodan)

Kuruga, Kan/Tamaki : Japanese horror manga creator.  He created the comic “Ankōku no Kami Sebbun” based on the Weird Tales collaboration by Robert Bloch and Henry Kuttner called “The Black God’s Kiss.”

Kusunoki, Kei : Japanese manga creator.  She debuted as comic artist at the age of 15.  She is best known for the horror manga Onikirimaru (Ogre Slayer).  The Ogre Slayer is a reformed Ogre who looks human.  He trying to save the human race from his fellow ogres who can invade human bodies.  Use a lot of tradition Japanese imagery in work: Kabuki masks, kimono, and Samurai regalia  

Ogre Slayer episodes were translated for Manga Vizion comic anthology put together by Viz Communications.  Superbly draw, t is a bit more bloody than other Kusunoki titles.  Kusunoki, like many horror creators, has a rather dark view of human nature, even young schoolgirls can harbor murderous thoughts.  Female desires manifested as the special demon. 

She wrote that she was influenced by Japanese hell paintings, Japanese folklore and both Japanese and foreign horror movies.  Her fine artwork often depicts traditional Japanese artifacts: kakuki demon masks, samurai armor, and ancient weaponry.

In Ancient Festivals, (1988), Kusunoki’s beautifully drawn work makes a genuinely frightening story.  She doesn’t use sex, gore, or unnecessary violence to convey her message.   Clean realistic lines and effective use of  bold black areas are her trademark.   She doesn’t try to dazzle the reader with page layout or overly artistic design that flaws most of the Shōjo horror manga.

A high school girl, Yamaguichi is possessed by an ancient Samurai spirit during a festival.  She provides the link between the spirits of the ancients and the uncomprehending modern world.   Will the world understand in time? 

One of the main themes of horror is that there are underlying forces at work in the world that unexpectedly erupt, usually with horrible results.  Whether this seething force is supernatural or from the unconscious minds of the perpetrators is of little importance.

Kuwata, Jirō :  Japanese manga artist noted for Eight Man After.  Dabbled with horror?

Kwaidan : Misrendering of kaidan, which is Japanese for ghost story.  It is Lafcadio Hearn’s most famous collection of Japanese “Stories and Studies of Strange Things.”   The 1964 movie (dir: Kobayashi) takes four tales from Hearn: "Black Hair" (a.k.a "The Reconciliation"), "Hoichi the Earless," "In a Cup of Tea"  and "Yuki no Onna" ("The Woan of the Snow").   "In a Cup of Tea" is missing from some editions of the film.

More recently, Kwaidan is being performed as a puppet play based on three tales by Lafcadio Hearn, written by Chinese-America Ping Chong.  After premiering in Atlanta in 1998, it went on to New York City and San Francisco.  Everywhere it went, reviewers praised it.  It adapted three tales from Lafcadio Hearn’s works:  “Hoichi the Earless” which was in the Kwaidan movie directed by Kobayashi, “O Tei” and “Jikininki”, a tale about a corpse eating demon.  It shows the perennial interest in Asian horror stories.

Kyokutei, Bakin :  see Bakin.

Kyonshi :  Japanese term for Chinese hopping vampire.

Kyōka, Izumi  : Author of Japanese Gothic Tales (trans. Charles Shiro Inouye, 1996), a collection of four psychological terror tales. Susan Napier hails him as “the greatest of the twentieth-century Japanese fantasists.”

Like Edgar Allan Poe,  Kyōka (1879-1939) is an enigmatic writer, more respected overseas than in his own country.  Like Poe, he mixes eroticism with blood and violence.  The white and red motif common in Poe is prevalent in his work: blood on white skin, red lipstick on a white face, red undergarments and white legs.

He also wrote plays with supernatural horror themes, notably Yashagaike (Demon Pond, 1913) which was filmed in 1979 and Tenshu Monogatari (The Castle Tower, 1917).  In the former, a princess who lives at the bottom of a pond brings a flood in vengeance against the unbelieving villagers.  The tale connects traditional Japanese women with the occult and features talking supernatural beasts.  In the latter, a demonesses entrap and devour male victims in a ruthless orgy of killing.

Two other movies are based on his works.  A Japanese television movie wasmade from Aoi Numa no Onna (Blue Lake Girl, 1986).  His novel Kōya Hijiri was filmed as Byakuya no Yōjo (Girl of the White Arctic Night, 1957, dir Takizawa Eisuke, English title, Vampire of the White Night).