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3 must-read Japanese horror books in summer

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3 must-read Japanese horror books in summer

In Japan, summer is the best time to relive the past by enjoying the best detective, horror and mystery books that can send chills down your spine

A May

A May

Published on 03 Sep 2020, 12:00

1. The Tokyo Zodiac Murders

This book belongs to Soji Shimada, an icon in the field of mystery novels. It was first published in Japan in 1981.

This book presents the perfect combination of fictional details of a locked-room mystery. More than 40 years after the unsolved serial murder case in 1936, illustrator Kazumi Ishioka and self-proclaimed detective Kiyoshi Mitarai (also a talented astrologer) set the goal to find out the truth.

The plot is a mixture of the horrifying murder case and the spiritual mystery of astrology as well as logical speculation, all of which can attract the attention of any reader.

The author, Shimada, came into his book as a sharp-witted investigator, and after reading this book, readers will understand the reason why Shimada is considered one of the wisest crime writers in Japan.

The cover of The Tokyo Zodiac Murders in Amazon
The cover of The Tokyo Zodiac Murders in Amazon

2. Apparitions: Ghosts of Old Edo

This is a collection of short ghost stories of Miyuki Miyabe. They all happened in Japan during the Edo period (1603 – 1868) and the early modern period.

The book retains a peculiar, yet humorous vibe while conveying the creepy feeling you have when you feel souls wandering around you. The contexts of these short stories are all boring working days of main characters, namely a tailor, a rich young man, lovers, etc. living with Oni (ghosts) that are haunting them.

 The cover of Apparitions: Ghosts of Old Edo - Miyuki Miyabe
The cover of Apparitions: Ghosts of Old Edo - Miyuki Miyabe

Since the stories are told according to history, they contain supernatural elements in Japanese culture which can make it difficult for you to understand all the details (even if the writer tries to explain them). Additionally, the pace of plot development is a bit slow. Therefore, don't forget to research about Japanese history as well as Japanese ancient culture to be able to fully understand these stories!

3. The Summer of the Ubume - Natsuhiko Kyogoku

The cover of The summer of the Ubume
The cover of The summer of the Ubume

This book belongs to the author Natsuhiko Kyogoku. He is a self-proclaimed "yokai" (ghost) researcher, who specializes in ghosts and strange creatures in Japanese folklore. He seeks to explain mysterious phenomena by placing them in a precise historical and social context.

In Japanese culture, Ubume is known as a "childbearing woman". They are spirits of mothers who died in childbirth, or before they were able to raise their children. The power of motherhood has enabled them to stay on earth with the living. The Summer of the Ubume is the first volume of the series "Hyakka Yako" (One Hundred Ghosts), to date has 9 titles and 4 side stories.

It all focuses on the character Chuzenji (nicknamed Kyogokudo), a man who sells second-hand books and Shinto exorcism remedy. He is gruff but very rational, and he can spend days in the store just reading.

One day, his reporter friend met him to talk about a 20-month pregnant woman whose husband mysteriously disappeared. After that, he was reluctantly dragged into the investigation, and then, the story goes on with a very attractive vibe with the sequels.

If you are interested in this topic, don't hesitate to read these books this summer!

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A May

A May

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