Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan, Volume 1: Tales of Old Edo


Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan

Volume 1: Tales of Old Edo 【江戸の物語】

Selected and with commentary by
Preface by Robert WEINBERG

The first volume in our Kaiki series introducing the world of Japanese weird and supernatural literature, Tales of Old Edo presents a selection of outstanding works drawn from centuries of creativity in the field, with an in-depth introduction to the genre by recognized authority Higashi Masao.


Robert Weinberg
Preface: "An Ordinary World, Interrupted" Read online!

Higashi Masao 東雅夫
Introduction: "The Origins of Japanese Weird Fiction"
translated by Miri Nakamura

Lafcadio Hearn
"The Value of the Supernatural in Fiction" (1898)
"In a Cup of Tea" (1902)

Ueda Akinari 上田秋成
"The Chrysanthemum Pledge" (菊花の約; 1776)
translated by Pamela Ikegami

Kyōgoku Natsuhiko 京極夏彦
"Three Old Tales of Terror" (『旧耳袋』; 2005;「誰が作った」「何がしたい」「どこに居た」)
translated by Rossa O'Muireartaigh

Miyabe Miyuki 宮部みゆき
"The Futon Room" (布団部屋; 2000)
translated by Stephen A. Carter

Okamoto Kidō 岡本綺堂
"Here Lies a Flute" (笛塚; 1925)
translated by Nancy H. Ross
This translation won the 2008 Kurodahan Press Translation Prize.

Tanaka Kōtarō 田中貢太郎 
"The Face in the Hearth" (竈の中の顔; 1928)
translated by Edward Lipsett

Kōda Rohan 幸田露伴
"Visions of Beyond" (幻談; 1938)
translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

Inagaki Taruho 稲垣足穂
"The Inō Residence, Or, The Competition with a Ghost" (稲生家=化物コンクール; 1972)
translated by Jeffrey Angles

Yamamoto Shūgorō 山本周五郎
"Through the Wooden Gate" (その木戸を通って; 1959)
translated by Mark Gibeau

Sugiura Hinako 杉浦日向子
"Three Eerie Tales of Dark Nights" (『百物語』より「闇夜の怪三話」; 1993)
translated by Dan Luffey; graphics by Dorothy Gambrell


  • ...an outstanding set of publications. This is an invaluable contribution to scholarship on the supernatural in literature and folklore in Japan and elsewhere. The stories are accessible and entertaining; they could easily be used in an undergraduate class where they would illuminate some of the sources and motifs so prevalent in contemporary Japanese horror film, manga, and anime. Moreover, these stories provide an introduction not only to a variety of important authors—many of whom are underappreciated even in Japan—but also tempt the reader to venture more deeply into the cultural and folkloric contexts that inform them. In short, the series is a perfect entree into some of the enduring traditions of Japanese supernatural folklore and supernatural literature, and the cross fertilization between the two.
    Michael Dylan Foster, Journal of Folklore Research
  • The stories themselves are a wonderful mixed bag. Some tales are very odd in structure, sometimes without a conventional ending and with a lesson to be learnt. [ ... ] But be warned Western horror fans unfamiliar with Asian horror, these are not ordinary horror tales, not all involve terror and violence, they differ greatly from a collection of western tales of the same genre.
    Elizabeth Vinton, Dark Matter
  • ...a unique treat and a wonderful experience. [...] None of the entries here could be mistaken for horror. Although populated with ghosts and monsters, Japan's storytelling tradition lends more towards strange experiences and odd phenomena than chills and thrills. Kurodahan Press was very careful in choosing the term "uncanny tales" for the title." Zack Davisson, Japan Reviewed
  • "Japanese genre fiction is largely unrepresented in English, and this book provides a taste of what we've been missing out on... there's something for everybody in this eclectic and unprecedented collection."
    Adam Groves, fright.com
  • "Kaiki will cater to a clear gap in the market. Japanese supernatural fiction (in contrast to film and manga) is little known in the English language world. A whole new experience—yet one sometimes strangely familiar—is out there and waiting."
    John Howard, writing in Wormwood No. 13: Read the entire review.


  • xiv + 274 pages
  • Trade paperback 5" x 8" (127mm x 203mm)
  • ISBN 978-4-902075-08-3
  • Cover: "Minamoto no Yorimitsu Striking at the Ground Spider" from the New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts series by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka

Available from

About the anthologist

Higashi Masao (東 雅夫)

is a noted anthologist, literary critic, and the editor of Japan's first magazine specializing in kaidan (strange tales) fiction, named Yoo (幽).

In 1982 he founded Japan's only magazine for research into strange and uncanny literature, Fantastic Literature Magazine (幻想文学, Gensō bungaku), published by Atelier Octa, serving as editor for twenty-one years until the magazine folded in 2003. It was an invaluable publication not only for its content, but also because it discovered and nurtured a host of new authors, researchers and critics in the field.

Recently he has concentrated on compiling anthologies, producing criticism of fantastic and horror literature, and researching the kaidan genre, active in a wide range of projects. As a critic he has suggested new styles and interpretations in the field, including the growing "Horror Japanesque" movement and the "palm-of-the-hand kaidan" consisting of uncanny stories told in no more than eight hundred characters. He is well-known as a researcher of the uniquely Japanese hyaku monogatari tradition, with numerous books and anthologies published.

He serves on the selections committees for various literary prizes in the kaidan genre, and since 2004 has written the Genyō (幻妖) book blog on uncanny and fantastic literature cooperatively with online bookseller bk1.

About the preface author

Robert Weinberg, author and editor,

is the author of sixteen novels, two short story collections, and sixteen non-fiction books. He has also edited over 150 anthologies. He is best known for his trilogy, the Masquerade of the Red Death, and his non-fiction book, Horror of the Twentieth Century. Bob is a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award; a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award; and a winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association.
His website is http://www.robertweinberg.net/

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