Download PDF Asian Horror Encyclopedia: Asian Horror Culture in Literature, Manga, and Folklore

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Open to the public ; The University of Melbourne Library. Open to the public. UNSW Library. None of your libraries hold this item. Found at these bookshops Searching - please wait We were unable to find this edition in any bookshop we are able to search. These online bookshops told us they have this item:. Tags What are tags? Add a tag.

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Public Private login e. Add a tag Cancel Akira manga Chiaki J. Lists What are lists? Login to add to list. Be the first to add this to a list. Comments and reviews What are comments? Add a comment. RMIT University. The University of Melbourne. UNSW Sydney. It is fear mingled with disgust, the repulsion of the unclean and the otherworldly. Arthur Machen saw horror as a violation of the laws of nature and used the example of flowers, a natural entity, singing a weird song, to explain that horror is an intrusion on the natural world.

The present work attempts to capture hitherto unnoticed horror culture from Japan and China. Its emphasis is on horror and horror-related literature largely unknown in the English speaking world. It also covers the mythological roots of horror and some superficial discussion of the meta-physics or philosophy behind it. Information from diverse sources is gathered together for the first time, since no one seems to have written about Asian horror culture as a whole, at least not in the English language. The emphasis here is on the written word, since that is the least accessible and consequently least known aspect of the field.

More visibly, Japanese comics, or manga as they are called, have always featured horror as a popular genre, though often with a different approach than traditional horror.

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Asian horror films and animation have been well covered in other sources, and the only ones mentioned here have a literary connection or have not been recognized specifically as horror media. Horror manga, however, has not received sufficient attention in English language references so it is included here in detail.

With its connections to the most ancient folklore, superstition and religious beliefs, horror literature has the deepest roots and is the most revealing side of the human spirit. It is composed of a slew of components, fear, disgust, the unknown, eroticism, taboo, sadism, the unclean, the unholy, and the unearthly.

It touches upon the imagination in ways that no other literature can. The earliest Chinese ghost stories come from the marvel tales dating from the 1st century AD up to the beginning of the Tang Dynasty. These are usually collections of strange stories from diverse sources, retold by a single author to give them consistency and more credibility. Often the collections are attributed to noted authors of the time, but generally authorship and origins are very doubtful. Story collections are often incomplete with large collections sometimes only having a few tales extant today.

These stories were usually presented boldly as utter truth with little effort towards the Coleridgian willing suspension of disbelief. They represent a fascination with wraiths, mirrors and doppelgangers as well as the usual ghosts and supernatural creatures. It is a huge collection of over stories that cover the whole range of Chinese weird tales up to his time. Among the Chinese scholars, Giles stands apart for his painstaking translation of this rather unorthodox work.

This collection of largely supernatural tales by the great Pu Songling is a rich source of ghostly lore, religious belief and Chinese mythology. Pu Songling called himself the Historian of the Strange and his work has been an endless source for horror comics, film and literature to this day. The year after Pu Songling died, Yuan Mei was born. Originally pursuing a career as a civil servant and magistrate, he dropped out to follow his literary passions.

This included ghost stories. The master he referred to was Confucius, who refused to speak about marvels and ghost stories. This collection recently became available in English translation. After Yuan Mei, Chinese supernatural literature seems to descend into a rut of imitations and rehashing. Little was added to the genre, and Western influence so obvious in Japan seems lacking in China.

As genre fiction, science fiction has the edge in mainland China because it has a didactic purpose. It encourages young people to study science.

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The other genres, including horror, have largely been dropped as useless, unless some historical significance justifies their existence. With the important exception of Damien Sin, a Singaporean writing in English, no modern horror from the Chinese realm is visible in the West. To see modern Asian horror literature, the reader must look to Japan. Japan too had an early gothic period. In , Ueda Akinari published his celebrated collection Ugetsu Monogatari Tales of Moonlight and Rain , which contained many seminal ghost stories still influential today.


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His works still appear in all media from comics to film. He retold classical Chinese and Japanese stories in modern language, taking great pains to retain their original awe and terror. One of his books of Japanese ghost stories, Kwaidan, was the inspiration for a Japanese movie and more recently a puppet drama, currently touring the United States. Originally written in English, his books have been translated into Japanese, and he is celebrated by Japanese and English-speaking scholars alike.

His achievement is unique in the field of Japanese horror culture. Though Poe had little impact on Chinese literature, he had enormous influence on Meiji writers such as Tanizaki and Akutagawa. With Poe began the Western onslaught. Even then, the vampire was a metaphor of the invasion of Western culture into Japan.

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According to such experts as Montague Summers and Bernhardt Hurwood, the vampire myth is universal, though apparently no one told the Japanese. As if to compensate for the lack of vampires, the Japanese have been seriously studying ghosts for a long time. They call the field yokaigaku, or the study of ghosts.

Starting with the scholar Toriyama Sekien, who tried to make a catalog of ghosts, the supernatural has long been the subject of serious thought in Japan. It finally reached academic recognition with Toyo University professor, Inoue Enryo, who made a six volume study of ghostly phenomena. Still controversial, the academic study of ghosts gave credibility to the subject. In the , the Fulbright Program granted a fellowship in yokaigaku to a Stanford student. In recent years, Abe Kazuo and Professor Komatsu Kazuhiko published many books and articles on yokaigaku, demonology and related topics.

This long ghostly tradition provided material for an endless stream of Japanese horror comics, or horror manga. The long, intricate history of horror manga needs a book length study to do it justice. A large percentage of manga artists did at least one horror title during their careers, starting with the early pioneers to the manga gods : Tezuka Osamu, Fujiko Fujio, Go Nagai and M izuki Shigeru, to name a very few.

Least known in the West is modern Japanese horror literature. While wildly famous throughout Asia, Suzuki Koji, sometimes called Stephen.

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King of Japan, is scarcely a household word in the West. His books have been adapted to comics, film, television and video games, but except for an interview with film director Nakata Hideo in Fangoria, the whole phenomena has been ignored in the West. On the other hand, the Japanese are intimately familiar with Western horror literature. Like Poe, H.

Lovecraft has a respectable following in Japan, and his work inspired a major series of Cthulhu mythos novels, stories and manga. Sadly, Westerners only sees their segment of the horror culture. The limited market for translated Asian literature mostly restricts it to mainstream or classical literature. Horror is difficult to translate because of cultural differences, though the visual arts are attracting attention to Japanese genre fiction.

The list will continue to grow in the coming decades. Even less known in the West, the Koreans have many fine examples of supernatural literature. The classical novel, Chongun hongnyon chon, is a tale of the ghostly revenge of two grievously wronged sisters. It is believed that Ueda used Korean sources for some of the tales in Ugetsu Monogatari.

Hampered by didacticism and conservatism, Korea produced some fine supernatural fiction in its classical period and has at least one noted horror novelist today.

Asian Horror Encyclopedia: Asian Horror Culture in Literature, Manga, and Folklore

The saddest fact is the lack of awareness of Asian horror literature in the West, especially when compared to the vast Asian knowledge of our literature. The universality of the Internet and the rising interest in Japanese popular culture will change that within the next century.


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Like an individual, a culture cannot be fully self-aware until it confronts and partially assimilates its shadow. Horror permeates all forms of artistic expression.