Review of Kaiki Volume 2 in Wormwood

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Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Old Japan
Volume 2: Country Delights

Selected and introduced by Higashi Masao

Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Old Japan (Volume 2: Country Delights), selected and introduced by Higashi Masao (Kurodahan Press) is the second of three volumes intended to present a selection of Japanese supernatural fiction old and new. The first, Tales of Old Edo, contained stories originally published between 1776 and 2005 and set in the Edo region (Edo was the name for Tokyo during the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan between 1603 and 1868). The nine stories (and one manga) gathered in this volume were originally published between 1906 and 1993, and look away from the megapolis of the Tokyo region during the century or so following Japan's forcible opening up to the modern world after 1853. As in the first volume, aspects of the Japan portrayed in Country Delights seem both recognisable and unfamiliar. And the title is an ironic one: the delights of the country are no protection from the sort of encounters involving kaiki—the 'fantastic' or 'strange supernatural'. There are worse things waiting for those who try to leave behind them the hubbub of the fast-expanding cities or the terrors and privations of the civilian population of the World War II home front.

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