Japanese Psychic and Paranormal Phenomena
The title for “Japanese Ghost Stories” is somewhat misleading. In fact, this book is a new edition of the previously published Supernatural and Mysterious Japan: Spirits, Hauntings and Paranormal Phenomena. The only thing different is the title and cover.
There aren’t a lot of ghost stories in this book. In fact, “Japanese Ghost Stories” is the type of book one might pick up in a New Age bookstore, right next to “Forbidden Secrets of the Pyramids” and “How to See Leprechauns.” The author, Catrien Ross, is a self-styled Scottish shamen who runs QRQ in Nishi Hachioji Japan, a “healing center” for “healers, alternative thinkers and futurists.”
With that in mind, “Japanese Ghost Stories” is a decent little book on with some good information on psychic phenomena in modern Japan as well as some nice ghost stories and haunted places. The book is heavier on psychics than ghosts, with quite a bit on mystic healing which is Ross’s own forte. She goes into detail on psychic photographs, ki energy research and feng shui. As a firm believer, there is no skepticism in any of these stories, and Ross presents every story as if it were accepted fact.
Which is not to say that there are no ghosts to be found here. The “Strange but True” chapter contains some nice weirdness, such as the grave of Jesus Christ in northern Aomori prefecture and the living mummies of Gassan mountain. My personal favorite sections were “Modern Day Hauntings” and “Edo Era Tales.” Unfortunately, at only 160 Ross doesn’t have enough space to go into any detail, and tends to rapid-fire stories at you in quick succession. One page might have four or five haunted places with just the names and a one-sentence synopsis given.
While I had heard many of the stories before, Ross is well-informed and added some new bits and some new stories, as well as some haunted places to check out. Her take on the famous “Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan” was very nice, with some history of the tale and how it was adapted by various media.
Overall, not a great book on the Japanese supernatural, but not terrible either. Anyone interested in weird phenomena and strange happiness will enjoy it, but anyone looking for a book on actual Japanese ghost stories will come away disappointed.