Out next book is book 5 of the Japanese horror novel series, Ghost Hunt by Fuyumi Ono, called The Bloody Labyrinth (小野不由美の“鲜血の迷宮”). This book has not been translated into English that I know of, though the series has been made into a popular anime by the same name. This edition of the book was published in 2011, though it was originally out in the early to mid 90s and was adapted into a manga edition in the late 90s. It can be purchased in the original Japanese here:
The anime can be streamed here, though this book is only covered in 4 of the episodes:
Fuyumi Ono, one of the authors I specialize in, is a popular novelist who writes fantasy and horror, and many of her novels have been turned into very good anime, such as “Shiki” and “The Twelve Kingdoms”. A former Buddhist Studies major, her horror fiction is particularly characterized by her use of interfaith motifs and Western horror tropes transplanted to a Japanese setting. She is also married to another popular horror novelist, Yukito Ayatsuji, but I won’t cover him here because I might read one of his books for the blog in the future.
In the Ghost Hunt series, each of the books is a stand alone story where the Shibuya Psychic Research Team goes to investigate some haunting or other supernatural event. This book has a prologue, nine chapters and an epilogue, and each chapter has subchapters. The main character in the series is high school girl Mai Taniyama, who tells the story in the first person, and this novel starts off in the prologue with her working her part time job at the team’s office near the Shibuya Shopping Arcade and the hip Dougenzaka district of Tokyo. Here is a page showing some of the highlights of the shopping arcade:
The head of Shibuya Psychic Research Center is Kazuya Shibuya, also known by his nickname Naru, who is only 17. He is away on urgent business when a woman in her 20s walks in looking for him, so she asks for his assistant Lin. When Mai gets Lin, he recognizes the visitor as Madoka Mori, and he goes out to greet her. While they make small talk waiting for Naru to return, Lin calls him to find out when he’s due.
Chapter 1 picks up the next day after school ends. Mai dashes immediately to the Shibuya office where four members of the psychic research team are waiting for a meeting. Naru isn’t there, so Mai goes in to see them. The four in attendance are Ayako Matsuzaki, Masako Hara, Bousan, and John Brown. Bousan is actually Houshyou Takigawa, a monk affiliated with the Shingon Buddhist sect and Koyasan, and here is a link showing that temple’s highlights:
John is an exorcist – I know from the anime that he is actually a Catholic priest, but the katakana here is indecipherable, and the text spends more time talking about his accent than his religious affiliation. Ayako is a self-styled Shinto shrine maiden, and Masako is a young medium. Bousan talks about having a big job for Naru. He starts to explain that a client named Oohashi came to him, and they are interrupted by Naru, Lin and Madoka arriving. They plan to go to the location in five days, and Naru checks to see who among the group can make it. Masako decides she can’t come, and Naru excuses her. Naru also announces he won’t be there. After more discussion, the group is astonished to learn that the client is a famous man, the former Japanese Prime Minister!
One whole subchapter is dedicated to their drive out to the location of their next investigation. They have to travel to Suwa in Nagano Prefecture, which is home to the Japanese Alps. Here is a tourism website showing some of the region’s geography:
The house is decrepit, huge and built in a Western style, looking rather like a typical haunted house. It was neglected for a long time, and ghosts are reported to appear there frequently. No one lives in the area. Mai is riding with Bouchan and Ayako, and they discuss their first impressions as the team arrives.
I’m going to cut off my reading there because the next section is such a flurry of names and furigana I’ll need time to cope with it. So far the novel is just focusing on the characterizations of the main players and getting the setting details down. Not much is happening yet. I thought it would be good to get a little deeper into the setting since the anime glosses over it and most Westerners wouldn’t be familiar with some of the names mentioned. Next time, we’ll begin to investigate the strange house.
Part one of a four part series.