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Haunting, Japanese Style

By Susan Harris

In the mood for seasonal reading? We recommend the Japanese ghost stories lurking in our archives. Ghosts play a major role in Japanese culture and, as the spooky stories here reflect, Japanese folklore is chockablock with haunts of many varieties.

The relentless spirit of a murdered woman assists in the capture of her homicidal mate in Okamoto Kido’s “The Kiso Wayfarer.”

In Takako Arai’s “Wheels,” a worker in a weaving factory who went mad and died at her spinning wheel assumes the form of a snake and slithers through the childhood bedroom of the narrator and her sister.

Set on a winding mountain road abandoned for a new superhighway, Kanji Hanawa’s “Compos Mentis” riffs on the universal urban legend of the vanishing hitchhiker. (Intriguingly, after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan, a number of cabdrivers in the devastated Ishinomaki area reported picking up spectral passengers who disappeared in the course of the ride.)

And if you would prefer a more benign approach to the intersection of past and present, check out our March 2015 issue, “On Memory: New Japanese Writing.”

Like these pieces, all our content is archived, so if you’re looking for a great story from an earlier issue, you know we won’t, well, ghost you.

Published Oct 31, 2017   Copyright 2017 Susan Harris

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