Yurei, the Japanese Ghost

Zack Davisson, 2015.

A fascinating book that goes into the history of Japanese ghosts and how that history affected Japanese society from early times onward. The attention paid toward the dead, the rituals revolving around the dead and the Yasakuni shrine are all tied in together. Some of the points that I found particular interesting include:

The author discusses the types of obligation in Japan and notes that since a person gives birth to another then they are obligated to take care of them after their death. They are to provide the dead with food, drink and entertainment. This leads to many homes having shrines to their dead where they put food and drink and sometimes do something to entertain the spirits of the dead.

The book discusses how all this related to the concept of beheading prisoners back in the times of the samurai. If you beheaded them then you did not owe them any obligation to take care of their spirits after their death.

The author also discusses the types of ghostly spirits. We see tales of such spirits in the present-day horror movies from Japan and other Asian countries. One such story is The Ring (I really liked the DVD, by the way) and various other DVDs. Thus, much of what we see in these horror movies is based on stories that may go back hundreds of years, sometimes more. The book also provides a glossary so you can better understand the different types of ghostly spirits. It's a quite fascinating book and it's interesting to see how the ghost stories differ in some ways from ghost stories from Western nations.

Main index page

Main Unsolved Mysteries Ghosts index page