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Fantômes dans l'Extrême-Orient d'hier et d'aujourd'hui - Tome 2

Marie Laureillard
Vincent Durand-Dastès

Impressions d'outre-tombe et ombres électriques

Haunted Sites: Where to Visit Ghosts According to Written or Filmed Collections of Personal Experiences

Visiter les fantômes au Japon : des répertoires de lieux hantés pré-modernes aux « explorations spirites » d'aujourd'hui


Mary Picone


In Japan those who wanted to avoid the uncanny or, conversely, decided to prove their courage by visiting haunted sites could track down ghosts at their homes thanks to collections of local legends or to guides such as the Nihon kaiki meishō annai (Guide to famous eerie places of Japan). Books of this type still sell but DVD documentary collections such as Nihon onnen chizu (Map of Evil in Japan or video reportage posted on Internet are now the most common way of interacting with ghosts.
Instead of looking at the illustrations included in earlier works of supernatural reference today's fans of appartitions prefer to vizualize spirits 'objectively' through a camera or set off, weighed down by a series of instruments, to capture the immaterial for themselves.

Au Japon, ceux qui voulaient éviter ou, au contraire, prouver leur courage en visitant des lieux hantés pouvaient traquer les fantômes (et autres êtres de métamorphose) grâce à des recueils de légendes locales ou des guides de lieux étranges célèbres comme le Nihon kaiki meishō annai (Guide des célèbres lieux étranges du Japon).
Des livres de ce genre ont encore du succès mais les reportages vidéos sur internet constituent désormais le moyen de diffusion le plus répandu. Au lieu de regarder des illustrations comme autrefois, les fans de fantômes contemporains préfèrent les "voir en vrai" à travers un objectif ou s'adonnent, bardés d'instruments pour capter les shinrei (esprits), à l'exploration des lieux hantés de jadis.


Entrées d'index

キーワード :

空間, 幽霊, 心霊すぽっと, 名所, 日本

Texte intégral

1In this article I attempt briefly to summarize some characteristics of pre-modern and nineteenth-century haunted sites, then to examine in greater detail more recent examples of materials documenting interactions between ghosts and the haunted: guidebooks and written collections of personal experiences. However other types of sources such as television or film dramatizations, as well as amateur videos posted on websites, have recently come to dominate the field. All these materials retrace ghostly itineraries or identify these sites, now often called “spirit spots” (shinrei spotto 心霊 スポット).

2The Japanese fascination with ghosts was and still expressed in an almost inexhaustible variety of forms: in writing through literature or orally by storytelling or in painting and other visual media.

3Yet even the most literary accounts may include references to supposedly real encounters. It should be noted that I refer to ghosts in this article but, as in China, accounts of encounters almost always include broader categories of strange beings or events.

  • 1 Tsuruta Norio [鶴田法男] et al., 1999-2009, Hontō ni atta kowai hanashiほんとにあった恐い話し, Fuji Tv.
  • 2 Directed mainly by Tsuruta Norio and including yearly 'specials' in a longer format (1999–2015).

4The hybridization of genres between “folk” accounts and what would become urban legend and literature was already a feature of many of the tales included in medieval collections such as the “Tales of Time Now Passed” (Konjaku monogatari 今昔物語). It continued to be a feature of Edo period “strange stories” (kaidan 怪談), some of which were labelled “true records” (jitsuroku 実録), and is very often an essential element of contemporary popular handbooks or of seemingly endless video, television and film dramatizations. The latter, for example, include series with titles like “Scary stories that really took place” (Honto ni atta kowai hanashi' ほんとにあった恐い話し)1 or “I saw a ghost!” (Yūrei wo mita! 幽霊 を見 た!).2 Even films presented as fiction, such as Nakata Hideo’s The Ring (Ringu) (1998) or The Complex (Kuroyuri danchi クロユリ団地) (2013), include elements derived from real-life news stories or refer to topical social problems. Notwithstanding this embarras de richesses, for some people reading accounts or watching films of others’ experiences is not enough; they wish to go a step further and attempt to establish a direct contact with “the strange” (kai 怪 or ki ) by personally visiting places said to be haunted and often filming their own explorations.

5My interest in ghosts started in the late 1980s as part of research on attitudes towards “bad deaths” and funerary ritual. At that time I came across many small paperback collections of “real ghost stories”, the most interesting of which, I think, were those collected and/or written by Hirano Imao. One of these, the “Guide to Famous Eerie Places of Japan” (Nihon kaiki meisho annai) (1976), is a slightly tongue-in-cheek reference to famous literary travel journals. He published a second collection in 1981, entitled “Strange Stories in Japan” (Nihon kaiki monogatari). Better known later collections of “real experiences of the supernatural”, shinrei taiken 心霊体験 include the 10 volume Shin mimibukuro (literally A New Version of a Bag of Ears, a reference to a 19th century compilation) written and/or compiled by Kihara Hirokatsu and Nakayama Ichirō (1990 to the present). Still other very popular media compilations are a series of retellings of modern ghosts stories by professional performers such as Inagawa Junji.

  • 3 Nenzi Laura, 2008, Excursions in Identity: Travel and the Intersection of Place, Gender and Status (...)

6Before the beginning of mass tourism, meisho 名所, literally “renowned places”, were sites associated with literary works or historical events. Many of these are tragic or melancholic: grave mounds erected over the severed heads of defeated warriors, last dwelling places of exiled courtiers, sites where beautiful maidens committed suicide, etc. Instead of contemplating obvious “beauty spots”, such as picturesque landscapes, well-read travellers would often come across faint remnants of ruins or seek out sites which had lost all visible traces of the event in question, identified only by inscriptions.3 This unsubstantial quality is still a common characteristic of tourist sites today.

  • 4 Nenzi Laura, 2008, Excursions in Identity; Traganou Jilly, 2004, The Tōkaidō Road: Travelling and (...)

7There has been a relatively recent renewal of Western scholarly interest in pre-modern Japanese travel writing. The field may continue to grow since the amount of material – even if we consider only the genre of the meisho ki 記 and the meisho zue 図会 (respectively, accounts and illustrated descriptions of famous places) is daunting.4

  • 5 Figal Gerald, 1999, Civilisation and Monsters.

8Many travel accounts describe encounters with ghosts, included among various forms of the strange, more or less like other fortuitous meetings on the road rather than as the object of a specific search. In a fascinating article on Edo travellers, Harold Bolitho incidentally shows once again that attitudes towards the supernatural varied according to the individual. Although there were scholarly attempts, most notably by the Buddhologist Inoue Enryō, to disprove “superstitions” during the Meiji period5, as might be expected there was no definitive separation between an era of “belief” and one of scepticism.

  • 6 Yūmoto Kōichi, 1999, Meiji yōkai shinbun, Tokyo: Kashiwa shobo.

9Some of the accounts included in a collection of “newspaper articles about supernatural creatures” from this period document this variety of responses: among other possibilities, for example, the apparition of a ghost in a place thereafter identified as haunted could be disquieting at first, but then might be accepted as a useful marketing device by the owner.6 Curiously, two of the articles in question (dated 1886 and 1895) deal with bath houses and prostitution, elements which recur in more recent texts.

  • 7 Angles Jeffrey, 2008, “Seeking the Strange: Ryōki and the Navigation of Normality in Interwar Japa (...)

10In later eras, literary fashions such as the Taishō period’s (1912–1926) “searches for the strange”,7 recurring “occult booms” and, more recently, the popularity of New Age spirituality have encouraged the traditional preoccupation with ghosts. The New Age vogue has also greatly contributed to the desire to discover psychic powers of one’s own, thought to facilitate encounters with spirits. However, the discovery of the “true form” (shōtai 正体) of an apparition, or the reason for its presence, are still frequently provided by a professional shaman or medium.

Contemporary accounts of haunted sites

11In Hirano’s 1976 collection, haunted sites are divided into seven categories, plus an eighth section on UFOs. Of these only three are classified according to geographical features: “strange entities” appearing by the roadside, floating over water, or in the mountains. The next three sections are identified by type of building or urban area: kai appearing in public buildings, in traditional haunted houses (obake yashiki お化 け屋敷) or in “accursed places”. The seventh part of the book lists the best spots in which to take spirit photographs (shinrei shashin 心霊 写真). Interestingly, the greatest number of sightings occur in public buildings.

12Another author, Nakamura Masao, in “Ghost Stories from the Sea, Ghost Stories from the Mountains”, limits his classification to the two areas in question. Some more recent texts, such as the “Map of Malice” (Onnen chizu 怨念地図), and the “Kansai Map of Malice”, published in 2005 and 2004 respectively, provide only lists of place names or regions.

  • 8 Onryō supotto199怨霊スポット199, 2005, Tōkyō : Nihon bungeisha.

13Published in magazine form in 2005, “199 Modern Spirit Spots” orders the chosen places firstly according to the type of fatal incidents causing the apparitions, e.g. “accidents and catastrophes” and “evil crimes and curses”8. Subsequent chapters are devoted to the type of source identifying these spots – history and legends, or urban legends – or to the status of scientific proof and to technical means of recording, such as the ever popular spirit photographs. Printed materials attempt to heighten the eeriness of the brief accounts they publish by adding illustrations, photographs or, best of all, titles printed in spectral typefaces. Some Chinese characters bleed down the page, others emerge from a background of nocturnal mists or cold blue “spirit fires”, while still others appear to be traced by a shaking hand.

14It may not be surprising to discover that at present, in overbuilt Japan, haunted sites are rarely historical buildings or historically significant meisho in the sense described above. Only a few are connected to tragic events in national history, such as the destruction of cities in the Second World War, although a fair number are said to correspond to the communal grave mounds erected on medieval or Edo period minor battle grounds. Most frequently, however, as in other countries, these sites are tied by word of mouth or by the media to more recent local fatalities. Accidents with many victims or violent deaths such as crimes and suicides, are reported and archived, thus supplementing local memory. Many combine these factors, particularly in places like Kyoto, which have a more documented history than other areas. Moreover, as in innumerable ghost stories collected worldwide, ghosts are also said to appear in apparently unremarkable recent buildings, and explained by a retrospective identification of the earlier characteristics of the site such as old burial ground or hospital etc.

15For example, if we search the 229 stories in Hirano’s two collections (1976 and 1981) we find- besides the protagonists' own houses- the following identifiable sites: pre-modern, divided in turn into cemeteries [10], burial mounds [4], old execution grounds [2], ancient tombs kofun 古墳[3], and four modern historical sites including Nagasaki as site of the atomic bombing, the prison of Sugamo, and a mass grave of unidentified bodies in Tokyo. The latter, where war criminals were executed, was hidden and a skyscraper was built over the pit. More recent spots include famous suicide sites [7], hospitals [6], morgues [2], public baths [6] and toilets [2].

  • 9 Kurihara Tōru, 2002, Haikyo no aruki kata, Tokyo: East Press.

16There are frequent references to “modern ruins” (haikyo 廃墟), that is to say fairly recent disaffected buildings and other abandoned sites. The association of the Gothic picturesqueness of old buildings, particularly castles or manor houses, with haunting in the West has been rather less common in Japan due to perishable building materials and frequent disasters such as fires. Very many older buildings have been destroyed. Unfortunately, uncontrolled private building and useless public works have covered the country with barely used cement structures subsequently left to disintegrate. The fashionable craze for the urban exploration of these modern ruins has now spread to all continents, but young Japanese were the first to take it up on a large scale. The founders of the movement in Japan, Kurihara Tōru and his group, repeatedly claim that they never saw a ghost in all their years of exploring ruins,9 yet hundreds of amateur videos and “true stories” link haikyo and paranormal exploration.

  • 10 All the above examples are listed in Kansai onnen chizu, 2004, GHM kenkyushō.

17Some sites are both liminal and places where accidents have occurred, such as tunnels or railway junctions, e.g. a disused station in Kyoto’s Sakyōku ward, or an overpass of highway number 171, where “a spirit calls out”. These very ordinary contemporary sites also include playgrounds, or abandoned amusement parks. The latter are popular also in fiction e.g. Miyazaki Hayao's well-known animated film “Spirited Away” (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi) 2001. Or, as an example of the former, a baby’s ghost appears to a childless couple in the park surrounding Takaragaike pond.10 Another broad category consists of isolated and/or gloomy natural sites such as forests, mountain trails, or lakes.

18Some texts also include a map of famous suicide spots, a particularly relevant classification after the strong increase in the national rate after 1998. Onnen chizu lists fifteen such spots.

  • 11 De Antoni Andrea, 2011, “Ghost in Translation: Non-Human Actors, Relationality, and Haunted Places (...)

19The number of haunted sites in a given area varies according to sources. The Kansai onnen chizu, for example, lists ninety-seven in the region in question. Not surprisingly, more tend to be discovered over time as accidents and violent deaths mount up and paranormal explorers extend their range. The Okaruto jōhōkan オカルト情報館 site lists 500 spots within Kyoto prefecture alone.11

Exterior, interior and intermediate spaces or boundaries

  • 12 Itabashi Sakumi, 2003,”Zokushin ni okeru kaii”,

20A hitherto almost unnoticed type of site might be called “interior space”. In this case, topography is scaled down and apparitions are said to be connected to the most eerie places within a house or building. A folklorist, Itabashi Sakumi (Komatsu 2009), gives a very detailed summary of haunted or inauspicious interior spots, based on nineteenth-century regional surveys. In his micro-catalogue, architectural details such as the orientation and/or the placing of the tatami mats in each room were said to attract ghosts, “warriors’ severed heads”, demons, and misfortune in general. Even a particular number of occupants or the coming of night could cause a previously harmless room to reveal a secret malevolence. Within the household, besides the inauspicious north-eastern corner, the well, the kitchen and the toilet – openings leading down to an underground domain – served as entry points for the inhabitants of the other world12. The fear of a subterranean connection plus the desire to avoid impurity have made toilets one of the prime sites of contemporary urban legends, particularly among children and located in schools. A famous apparition known as “toire no Hanako” (Hanako of the toilet) which has inspired many films since the 1980s.

21Cellars, a favourite abode of Western ghosts, were not part of traditional Japanese buildings, although the crawl space under the foundations as well as the uninhabited area between the ceiling and the roof are often still thought to be sinister.

  • 13 Hoshino Yoshihiro, 2004, Cursed, or Chō kowai hanashi A: yami no karasu

22In modern buildings there are additional types of interior spaces, considered intermediary between the public and the private domains, and often added to a typology of haunted areas. Staircases, elevators and corridors, all of which connect above-ground spaces with underground places, frequently feature in contemporary horror films. These sites may appear to lose their normal proportions by adding to the usual number of floors, and stretch downwards to unspecified depths. In a film about a haunted convenience store, even a refrigerator, when its door has been opened by a hapless customer, is shown to lead back to an infinitely regressing corridor traversed by a ghost.13

  • 14 Komatsu Kazuhiko, 2009, Nihon no yōkai, Tokyo: Natsume shuppan kikaku, and Komatsu Kazuhiko, 2001,(...)

23Studies of popular religion in more traditional settings have identified a series of boundaries (kyōkai 境界) between worlds, liminal places with distinctive types of real or imaginary inhabitants and natural features. Komatsu (2008) includes a diagram of prototypical village boundaries. As may be expected, the uncanny/strange character of spaces and their denizens increases with distance from the village centre and proximity to the deeper or higher (oku 奥) parts of mountains at its borders. In an edited collection of articles on this subject, Komatsu lists the borders between the living and the dead, which, besides obvious choices such as caves, include gates, bridges, crossroads, and the “place where rainwater strikes when falling from the eaves”.14

24The most frightening video I saw while gathering material for this article was posted anonymously on internet website and entitled “exploring ruins”. It gradually revealed a particularly eerie interior space. An unidentified ruined traditional house is gradually revealed through the eyes of an unseen searcher, entering by night. His physical presence is implied only by glimpses of his shadow, the sound of footsteps, and slowly increasing heavy breathing. He makes his way through each deserted room, wading through piles of discarded objects and trash, until he realizes that there is an inaccessible space hidden in the attic. Then, while the viewer starts to feel a mounting unease, he breaks into the inner heart of the interior, finding still more rubbish, walls covered with paper charms to ward off evil, and many small dolls. The last minutes of the footage reveal that this place contains dozens of girls’ tattered kimonos splashed with blood hanging on cords criss-crossing the room as well as a hanged larger doll, a miniature reproduction of a young girl, which is also stained with blood. A subtitle reads “I will always cherish this doll” and we realize that, instead of the now standard vicarious participation in the urban exploration of ruins, we have been tricked into following the footsteps of a perverted monster.15

25There are many other examples of haunted spaces connected with sex. Ghostly appearances fairly often take place in areas associated with prostitution and leisure. Crumbling love hotels or bath houses in once popular provincial resorts are frequently featured. Hirano’s collections, for example, include six cases. However, the association between ghosts and (often commercial) sex in these stories can be deduced from the linkage of a series of tropes: ghosts are predominantly female, generally young, and were often murdered by men, or killed themselves when discarded by their lovers. None are housewives and their way of life is “impure”. The animator Miyazaki extended the eerie associations of old fashioned bath houses to the adventures of a child protagonist in the above- mentioned 'Sprited Away'.

26A striking recent example, once again featuring an interior space, is included in the magazine (or mook) Onryō supotto 怨霊スポット. Here both a DVD sold with the magazine and photographs on the page show a corner of a love hotel room where a young girl performs a sex act with a client and a blurred ghostly face can be made out in the background. The most surprising element is the series of detailed reconstructions of the scene, including outlines of occupants and a floor plan of the room, by means of computer graphics. Virtual reality reconstitutes concrete details of the apparition, such as its size and mass, in order to prove the existence of the spirit. Yet even these high-tech improvements to visualization are complemented in the DVD by summoning an in-house medium to the scene after the occurrence. In a rather blasé manner, she explains on camera that the mysterious face is that of an animal spirit in human form, evoked by a practitioner of one of the new religions.

27Digital technology provides other “spaces” for apparitions. A well-known urban legend, for example, maintains that an icon of a red door may pop up on a screen at night; if the owner completes the message underneath it, he or she will be found dead the next morning, and the walls of the room will be painted red with blood. Electronics are also used to find or create haunted itineraries: there are around ten possible tour choices with 'fear apps' for Japanese smart phones, and google (Japanese version) offers a map of haunted spots in Tokyo.

28Successive accounts of haunted places collected in books or magazines or located in cyberspace may be usefully collated and compared with other forms of interaction, such as visits organized by companies selling guided “ghost tours”. Even taxi or bus companies have started to provide special haunted tours such as the 'The Taxi world you do not know' (Anata no shiranai takushi no sekai, a reference to a well-known television series comparable to the Twilight Zone).

  • 16 De Antoni Andrea, 2011, “Ghost in Translation”.

29In a recent article, De Antoni16 describes one of Kyoto's ghostly tours in detail and connects it with several written sources. An example of a well-known spot is Midorogaike pond in northern Kyoto, one of the two places De Antoni examines at greater length. The pond also features in Hirano’s collection, published thirty years beforehand.

  • 17 Picone Mary, 1991, « Ombres japonaises : l’illusion dans les contes de revenants (1685-1989) », l’ (...)

30I translated Hirano’s account in an article published in 1991.17 At that time I had tried to carry out an unsystematic spot check of his accounts by talking to people living in or near several of the places listed about their own impressions or their knowledge of local stories. Midorogaike was duly considered to have an “eerie” atmosphere by two people, but I was not given any explanation for this feeling. In the late 1970s and even later, when I visited the spot, the area around the pond was still not very built up and was deserted at night and poorly lit. The damp air and the reflection of the moon on the particularly still waters might well be considered disturbing by many passers-by.

31The successive versions of ghostly encounters near the pond can be summarized as follows:

  • Hirano: a young woman enters a taxi passing near the pond at night and asks to be taken to Kyoto University, afterwards the driver finds that she has vanished before arriving at her destination and that her seat is still wet. According to the explanation given by the author, she is the spirit of one of the people who died in a “charity hospital” once located next to the pond and, in accordance with a common pre-war practice, her corpse was given to the university for dissection by students.
  • Kasha and Kikuchi (collected in 1999, and summarized by De Antoni): the female ghost asks the taxi driver to be taken to the pond and vanishes.
  • Finally, on the website Okaruto jōhōkan, also found by De Antoni and accessed in 2011, the woman passenger is said to appear to the taxi driver because she is one of several patients of a psychiatric hospital on the lake shore to have committed suicide by drowning in its waters.

32For most readers, the outline of this story may be just another version of one of the best-known urban legends, an encounter with a “vanishing hitch-hiker”. This story seems to adapt to most forms of social change. In the aftermath of the triple disaster at Fukushima taxi drivers have reported picking up ghost passengers in the Ishinomaki area (Asahi shinbun, January 21st, 2016).

33In fact, many pre-modern ghost stories feature several of the above elements. Meiji period versions of urban legends reveal fears associated with modern technology, i.e. trains or tram cars, or focus on practices connected to new institutions. The latter include Western medical hospitals, which introduced routine dissection (which had long been forbidden and then limited to the bodies of paupers or prisoners), or, more particularly, internment in psychiatric hospitals. If some geographical locations are unchanged, foreign social structures are more or less rapidly incorporated into local reinterpretations.

34Yet another element common to a number of sites could be described as a “strange natural feature”. Midorogaike is said to be “bottomless” and not to give up the corpses of those who drown in its waters. This combination of rare natural site and the supernatural is found in other locations, for example in the forest of Aokigahara. This “sea of trees”, as it is also known, is now the most famous suicide spot in Japan and consequently, for many, one of the most haunted. The forest is said to have a particular electromagnetic field which prevents compasses from working. Therefore, even if they decide not to commit suicide after all, the people who enter are said not to be able to find their way out and thus to perish. Some inhabitants of the area claim that the spirits of those who kill themselves (some years as many as a hundred people) try to lure passers-by to join them in the dark and trackless interior. Several Buddhist priests hold memorial rituals to pacify these spirits.

Final comments on spirit videos

35The ghost videos which constitute a large part of the contemporary material do not provide ordered itineraries like those proposed by guidebooks or tours, although they could be seen as virtual, vicarious exploration like much of our travel today.

  • 18 The videos taken on haunted sites share many features with spirit photographs, a genre first impor (...)
  • 19 This video has – appropriately – vanished since then, but sequences of others are easy to find. Se (...)

36The problem with the presupposed unsubstantial nature of ghosts is of course that very clear images will be almost indistinguishable from real forms, and therefore presumably less convincingly supernatural than vague, blurred or semi-transparent traces. Sometimes a mere circle of light is enough; in a few other cases, techniques allow the capture of an identifiable figure such as a warrior in armour.18 Besides the ubiquitous spirit photographs, a vast variety of images are pored over by fans of the genre in search of new material. A particularly striking example of what could be called a haunted metasite is a short video I came across by chance on YouTube in April 2011.19

37The enlarged fragment in question showed that even a two-second-long fragment of footage from Ringu, the film that launched the J-Horror craze, contained an image of a “real” ghost.

38For many anthropologists, however, the most interesting aspect of some of these videos is probably the attempt to obtain a record of an experience by taking a medium to the actual site, then filming her seeing a ghost – which is not visible to anyone else – and recording her comments.

39Filming one’s visit to these sites, for example with a mobile phone, is a variation of the dares (kimodameshi 肝試し) that remain popular among adolescents and were once a pastime of adult warriors. Sought-for encounters with supernatural beings already appear in the early 12th century Konjaku monogatari.

40Because many of these videos do not identify the spots they feature, they reaffirm the typology of haunted sites (ruins, tunnels, tumuli, etc.) rather than adding to the supernatural fame of specific meisho. Moreover, they implicitly serve as a model or a cliché to be replicated by viewers intending to repeat the form of the visit and film their own sightings. To complete the loop, these new videos will be posted in their turn as proof of the encounter. Occasionally such trips also provide a way to reveal a person’s psychic sensitivity and impress more stolid friends. In what could be called a genealogy of the expression or concealment of fear, whereas once warriors showed their courage by remaining impassive, most contemporary ghost videos include exaggerated amateur – often female – dramatizations of the terror supposedly felt by paranormal explorers.

41The conventions of fear and the typology of haunted sites are increasingly globalized; however, some of their features are still identifiably Japanese. Yet through the spread of East Asian soft power and digital technology, Japanese ghosts have extended their area of influence overseas and now increasingly haunt our own mental backyards.


1 Tsuruta Norio [鶴田法男] et al., 1999-2009, Hontō ni atta kowai hanashiほんとにあった恐い話し, Fuji Tv.

2 Directed mainly by Tsuruta Norio and including yearly 'specials' in a longer format (1999–2015).

3 Nenzi Laura, 2008, Excursions in Identity: Travel and the Intersection of Place, Gender and Status in Edo, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

4 Nenzi Laura, 2008, Excursions in Identity; Traganou Jilly, 2004, The Tōkaidō Road: Travelling and Representation in Edo and Meiji Japan, London: Routledge Curzon; and best of all, Plutschow Herbert, 2006, A Reader in Edo Period Travel, Folkstone: Global Oriental. See also Bolitho Harold, 1990, “Travelers’Tales:Three Eighteenth-Century Travel Journals”, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 50 , 2

5 Figal Gerald, 1999, Civilisation and Monsters.

6 Yūmoto Kōichi, 1999, Meiji yōkai shinbun, Tokyo: Kashiwa shobo.

7 Angles Jeffrey, 2008, “Seeking the Strange: Ryōki and the Navigation of Normality in Interwar Japan”, Monumenta Nipponica, 63/1, pp. 101–141.

8 Onryō supotto199怨霊スポット199, 2005, Tōkyō : Nihon bungeisha.

9 Kurihara Tōru, 2002, Haikyo no aruki kata, Tokyo: East Press.

10 All the above examples are listed in Kansai onnen chizu, 2004, GHM kenkyushō.

11 De Antoni Andrea, 2011, “Ghost in Translation: Non-Human Actors, Relationality, and Haunted Places in Contemporary Kyoto”, Japanese Review of Cultural Anthropology, 12, pp. 27–49.

12 Itabashi Sakumi, 2003,”Zokushin ni okeru kaii”,

13 Hoshino Yoshihiro, 2004, Cursed, or Chō kowai hanashi A: yami no karasu

14 Komatsu Kazuhiko, 2009, Nihon no yōkai, Tokyo: Natsume shuppan kikaku, and Komatsu Kazuhiko, 2001, Kyōkai, Tokyo: Kawade.

15 « Exploring ruins », 2009, Saya in Underworld, [consulté le 17 février 2016].

16 De Antoni Andrea, 2011, “Ghost in Translation”.

17 Picone Mary, 1991, « Ombres japonaises : l’illusion dans les contes de revenants (1685-1989) », l’Homme, 31/117, p. 122–150.

18 The videos taken on haunted sites share many features with spirit photographs, a genre first imported to Japan in the early 1900s. During this period, they were confined to interiors where Western-style séances were staged. Then, as in other countries, improved technology allowed cameras to record images in almost any situation and lighting conditions, and ghosts were tracked down where they were usually said to appear. Spirit photographs started to become popular, particularly among young people, in the 70s. This craze probably peaked in the late 90s but their popularity continues to this day. An example of a recent codified form of this interaction with the supernatural is the Nintendo video game Shinrei Camera (2011), in which players go through a haunted house and interact with ghosts by taking their picture via a special camera provided with the game.

19 This video has – appropriately – vanished since then, but sequences of others are easy to find. See a selection of ghost videos at this website:心霊動画2-4-10コンビニにいる幽霊_news.


Centre de Recherches sur le Japon, EHESS-PSL