Let’s kickstart this new year with some diverse horror! As you may know, I have always loved Japanese legends (throwback to the In Search of Monsters series featuring Japanese yokai). It is a well-known fact that Japanese horror is truly terrifying. Here is the list of my favorite Japanese Horror Books. I read them a long time ago, but they are still good.
*This is my own taste, it doesn’t mean these books are the best. I avoided the books I put in Top 10 Diverse Horror Books, since I wanted to give you some new suggestions. Make sure to check them out as well.*
ZOO by Otsuichi/ Goodreads
Description: A man receives a photo of his girlfriend every day in the mail…so that he can keep track of her body’s decomposition. A deathtrap that takes a week to kill its victims. Haunted parks and airplanes held in the sky by the power of belief. These are just a few of the stories by Otsuichi, Japan’s master of dark fantasy.
The Summer of the Ubume by Natsuhiko Kyogoku/ Goodreads
Description: In Japanese folklore, a ghost that arise from the burial of a pregnant woman is an Ubume.
The Summer of Ubume is the first of Japan’s hugely popular Kyogokudo series, which has 9 titles and 4 spin-offs thus far.
Akihiko “Kyogokudo” Chuzenji, the title’s hero, is an exorcist with a twist: he doesn’t believe in ghosts. To circumnavigate his clients’ inability to come to grips with a problem being their own, he creates fake supernatural explanations–ghosts–that he the “exorcises” by way of staged rituals. His patients’ belief that he has vanquished the ghost creating their problems cures them.
In this first adventure, Kyogokudo, must unravel the mystery of a woman who has been pregnant for 20 months and find her husband, who disappeared two months into the pregnancy. And unravel he does, in the book’s final disturbing scene.
My Thoughts: I have to warn you that this story is bizarre and twisted. If you like unusual horror books, then this one is perfect for you. I would recommend to be informed about Japan’s time period after the WWII. Japan suffered detaching from the traditional culture to its’ western one and there were a lot of mixed feelings about it. This is constantly discussed in the book, and I believe that you would enjoy the book more if you knew a little bit of background information. It adds to the horror factor.
Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse by Otsuichi / Goodreads
Description: Two short novels, including the title story and Black Fairy Tale, plus a bonus short story. Summer is a simple story of a nine-year-old girl who dies while on summer vacation. While her youthful killers try to hide the her body, she tells us the story–from the point of view of her dead body–of the childrens’ attempt to get away with murder.
Black Fairy Tale is classic J-horror: a young girl loses an eye in an accident, but receives a transplant. Now she can see again, but what she sees out of her new left eye is the experiences and memories of its previous owner. Its previous deceased owner.
My Thoughts: I think you noticing a trend with Otsuichi here. Yes, I do love reading his works. He is an awesome writer. The short novels are extremely uncomfortable in some parts, at least for me. My favorite is Black Fairy Tale.
Apparitions: Ghosts of Old Edo by Miyuki Miyabe/ Goodreads
Book Description: In old Edo, the past was never forgotten. It lived alongside the present, in dark corners, and in the shadows. In these tales, award-winning author Miyuki Miyabe explores the ghosts of Japan, and the spaces of the living world they inhabit. Written with a journalistic eye and a fantasist’s heart Apparitions bring the restless dead, and those who encounter them, to life.
My Thoughts: I am a huge fan of Japanese legends and ghosts, therefore this is definitely one of my favorites. If you do not know Miyuki Miyabe, she is a science fiction, horror, historical fiction, YA author. She is pretty awesome!
Japanese Gothic Tales by Kyōka Izumi/ Goodreads
Description: The four stories presented here are among Kyoka’s best-known works.