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10 Japanese Books To Read This Halloween

In the spirit of spooky season, it’s time to delve into the mysterious, the unsettling and the downright terrifying.

By 5 min read

In the spirit of spooky season, it’s time to delve into the mysterious, the unsettling and the downright terrifying. Instead of the usual haunted houses or scary films, why not find thrills in the pages of Japanese literature?

Here are ten translated books from 2023 that will make your heart race and imagination run wild.

1. Hit Parade of Tears

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

With elements of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi set against the backdrop of 1970s Japanese pop subculture, this experimental collection of short stories by Izumi Suzuki, translated by Helen O’Horan, Daniel Joseph, Sam Bett and David Boyd, blurs the line between everyday experiences and the otherworldly.

Prepare to be mystified by aliens, witchcraft, dark humor and morbid imagery with this daring novel.

Available on Amazon

2. The Rope Artist

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

In the underground world of kinbaku (Japanese rope bondage), you’ll be pulled into a dark and twisted mystery as two detectives investigate the murder of a kinbaku instructor, “the rope artist.” Through this explicit novel translated by Sam Bett, Fuminori Nakamura fearlessly portrays violence, eroticism and inner darkness that slowly unravels like a tangled rope.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

3. The Mill House Murders: The Classic Japanese Locked Room Mystery

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

How about solving a locked-room murder mystery this Halloween? The Mill House, an eerie castle-like structure, becomes the setting for puzzling murders, disappearances and stolen paintings. In this mind-bending novel by Yukito Ayatsuji, translated by Ho-Ling Wong, search for clues alongside detective Kiyoshi Shimada as he investigates mysteries that will keep you turning the page.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

4. The Premonition

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

Strange visions begin to haunt a young woman living an ordinary, tranquil life. As she delves into her family’s past, secrets begin to surface, and her eccentric aunt mysteriously disappears. See the world through the protagonist’s eyes and journey through her dreamlike world, overflowing with taboos and premonitions that propel the story forward.

Yet another superb novel by the beloved Japanese author, Banana Yoshimoto, translated by Asa Yoneda.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

5. Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

Why did this enormous, dinosaur-like monster rise from the sea to wreak havoc on Tokyo in 1954? These stories, translated by Jeffrey Angles into English for the first time, offer insight into Shigeru Kayama’s vision for the Godzilla saga. In a world suffering from mass extinctions, devastated environments and human recklessness, Godzilla becomes a symbol of nature’s resilience and resistance.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

6. Nails and Eyes

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

A ghostly narrator tells the story of her traumatic past and dreary childhood. After losing her mother, the child’s distant father introduces a new romantic partner into their home, causing her to develop troubling obsessions and anxious nail-biting habits.

Kaori Fujino’s collection of horror stories, translated by Kendall Heitzman, is full of cold atmospheres that will send a chill down your spine.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

7. The Devil’s Flute Murders

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

An ominous flute melody flows through the air, hinting at a string of mysterious deaths. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you’ll be intrigued by the aged and grizzled, yet highly astute detective, Kosuke Kindaichi.

Follow haunting music, uncover hidden truths and find yourself at the edge of your seat with this novel by Seishi Yokomizo, translated by Jim Rion.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

8. Kappa

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

A madman journeys into the fascinating yet terrifying realm of kappas, grotesque turtle-like creatures from Japanese folklore. The story, translated by Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda and Allison Markin Powell, is narrated by an asylum patient who chases a kappa into a hole, leaving behind humanity.

In exploring the bizarre ways of the kappa, Ryunosuke Akutagawa parallels Japanese society and the kappa world.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

9. The Siren’s Lament: Essential Stories

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

Dark moments pervade these tales of sadistic humans and mythological creatures. Exploring Japanese and Chinese mythology, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki and translator Bryan Karetnyk reveal the complexities of desire, identity and cultural heritage through morally corrupt characters driven by insatiable cravings.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

10. Dragon Palace

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

In Hiromi Kawakami’s supernatural world, the laws of physics don’t apply. Meet human-animal hybrids, shapeshifting creatures and lustful ghosts and gods who defy conventions in their quest for love. These stories, translated by Ted Goossen, will leave you feeling bewildered, enchanted and laughing hysterically all at once.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

Coming soon:

The Mantis

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

A father with a secret tries to escape the dangerous world of contract killing to live a safer, normal life. Along the way, he faces challenges that put him and his family at risk.

Sink into the gritty, criminal underworld of Tokyo with this upcoming novel by Kotaro Isaka, translated by Sam Malissa.

Available on Amazon November 2023.

The Final Curtain: A Mystery

10 Japanese Literature Books To Read This Halloween

Across Tokyo, a series of horrific strangulation murders unfolds. In this upcoming novel by Keigo Higashino, translated by Giles Murray, join detective Kyoichiro Kaga as he gets to the bottom of these gruesome deaths and discovers the truth behind his own mother’s passing.

Available on Amazon December 2023.

With Halloween looming, poking your nose into a spooky book is the perfect way to embrace the season. Wrap yourself in your comfiest blanket and immerse yourself in Japanese horror, fantasy, science fiction or crime fiction. Wishing you spine-tingling reading and a delightfully eerie Halloween!

Which Japanese novel do you want to read this Halloween? Feel free to drop a comment and share your spooktacular reads down below!

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