100 books like Kwaidan

By Lafcadio Hearn, Yasumasa Fujita (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that Kwaidan fans have personally recommended if you like Kwaidan. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Convenience Store Woman

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

This contemporary, quirky tale centers around the life of Keiko, a young woman who has never done anything in a conventional way and has her mother very worried that her daughter will never find a man and settle down into a conventional life. No, Keiko’s ways of thinking are startling and odd in ways that are both amusing and somewhat horrifying, as she really does fall outside the realm of conventional thinking and socially rewarded behavior. The reader comes to love her as she grows into womanhood (and personhood) as a worker in a fast-paced convenience store, where she memorizes hundreds of products and practices behaving more “normally” by mimicking the actions and words of her co-workers. Then a man named Shiraha enters the picture, for a new twist.

By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Convenience Store Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Keiko.

Keiko is 36 years old. She's never had a boyfriend, and she's been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years.

Keiko's family wishes she'd get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won't get married.

But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she's not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store...


Book cover of Tales of Moonlight and Rain

Andi Brooks Author Of Ghostly Tales of Japan

From my list on Japanese yurei and yokai.

Who am I?

I am an Anglo-Irish writer who has lived in Japan for eighteen years. During that time, my interest in the Japanese supernatural has deepened to the point where it is now the main focus of my writing. In my free time, I enjoy traveling around Japan collecting local ghost stories and folk tales. This, along with my extensive reading of both fiction and non-fiction on the topic, has provided a rich source of inspiration for my writing. I am also a keen observer of people, daily life, and the environment in which I live, which helps me to colour and add realism to my stories. 

Andi's book list on Japanese yurei and yokai

Andi Brooks Why did Andi love this book?

I came across Ugetsu Monogatari in a used bookshop at a time when I was voraciously reading everything I could lay my hands on about the Japanese supernatural. First published in 1776, it is rightly regarded as one of the most important collections of Japanese ghostly fiction. Ugetsu Monogatari gave me a greater and deeper insight into this fascinating world. Almost as Interesting as the book itself is the life story of the author. The son of a prostitute and an unknown father Ueda Akinari was born in a period when the Japanese were deeply interested in yokai and yurei. He himself was a firm believer in the supernatural. It is that belief and the influence of the period which makes this book such an essential read for anyone interested in the subject. It is a book that I often return to.

By Ueda Akinari, Anthony H. Chambers (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tales of Moonlight and Rain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1776, the nine gothic tales in this collection are Japan's finest and most celebrated examples of the literature of the occult. They subtly merge the world of reason with the realm of the uncanny and exemplify the period's fascination with the strange and the grotesque. They were also the inspiration for Mizoguchi Kenji's brilliant 1953 film Ugetsu. The title Ugetsu monogatari (literally "rain-moon tales") alludes to the belief that mysterious beings appear on cloudy, rainy nights and in mornings with a lingering moon. In "Shiramine," the vengeful ghost of the former emperor Sutoku reassumes the role of…


Book cover of Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Andi Brooks Author Of Ghostly Tales of Japan

From my list on Japanese yurei and yokai.

Who am I?

I am an Anglo-Irish writer who has lived in Japan for eighteen years. During that time, my interest in the Japanese supernatural has deepened to the point where it is now the main focus of my writing. In my free time, I enjoy traveling around Japan collecting local ghost stories and folk tales. This, along with my extensive reading of both fiction and non-fiction on the topic, has provided a rich source of inspiration for my writing. I am also a keen observer of people, daily life, and the environment in which I live, which helps me to colour and add realism to my stories. 

Andi's book list on Japanese yurei and yokai

Andi Brooks Why did Andi love this book?

This book has a special place in my heart because the author was recommended to me by my son, also a confirmed fan of horror and the supernatural. Growing up in Japan, like most school children, he had read some of Edogawa Rampo’s many books of child detectives before graduating to his much darker adult stories of horror. While my son had read the original Japanese, at that time Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination was the only volume of English translations of Edogawa Rampo’s stories that I could find. It is, however, a masterly introduction to the dark, and at times perverse, world of the author. Whereas Edgar Allan Poe, from whom the writer Hirai Tarō derived the pen name, had fueled my teenage fancy for shadow-filled gothic tales, Edogawa Rampo made me view my adopted homeland with a more wary eye.

By Edogawa Rampo, James B. Harris (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection of mystery and horror stories is regarded as Japan's answer to Edgar Allan Poe.

Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination, the first volume of its kind translated into English, is written with the quick tempo of the West but rich with the fantasy of the East. These nine bloodcurdling, chilling tales present a genre of literature largely unknown to readers outside Japan, including the strange story of a quadruple amputee and his perverse wife; the record of a man who creates a mysterious chamber of mirrors and discovers hidden pleasures within; the morbid confession of a maniac who…


Book cover of Ring

Andi Brooks Author Of Ghostly Tales of Japan

From my list on Japanese yurei and yokai.

Who am I?

I am an Anglo-Irish writer who has lived in Japan for eighteen years. During that time, my interest in the Japanese supernatural has deepened to the point where it is now the main focus of my writing. In my free time, I enjoy traveling around Japan collecting local ghost stories and folk tales. This, along with my extensive reading of both fiction and non-fiction on the topic, has provided a rich source of inspiration for my writing. I am also a keen observer of people, daily life, and the environment in which I live, which helps me to colour and add realism to my stories. 

Andi's book list on Japanese yurei and yokai

Andi Brooks Why did Andi love this book?

I first saw the film adaptation of Ring at a film festival in 1998 and was blown away by it. The English translation of the novel wasn’t published in the UK until 2004, but it was worth the wait. It’s difficult now that Sadako has become such a cliched and parodied character to appreciate the impact the character had. The book is much bigger in scope than the film, also providing the inspiration for the film Rasen. I slightly regretted not having read it before seeing the film so that I could have felt the impact Japanese readers must have felt. Ring was the first modern Japanese novel that I read. Reading it coincided with me getting to know Japan for real and was more of a point of reference than any guidebook. Long after I leave Japan, Ringu will remind me of the country I left behind.

By Koji Suzuki, Glynne Walley (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stunning Japanese thriller with a chilling supernatural twist. The novel that inspired the cult Japanese movie and the Hollywood blockbuster of the same name.

Asakawa is a hardworking journalist who has climbed his way up from local-news beat reporter to writer for his newspaper's weekly magazine. A chronic workaholic, he doesn't take much notice when his seventeen-year-old niece dies suddenly - until a chance conversation reveals that another healthy teenager died at exactly the same time, in chillingly similar circumstances.

Sensing a story, Asakawa begins to investigate, and soon discovers that this strange simultaneous sudden-death syndrome also affected another two…


Book cover of Kaiki: Uncanny Tales From Japan, Vol. 1 Tales Of Old Edo

Andi Brooks Author Of Ghostly Tales of Japan

From my list on Japanese yurei and yokai.

Who am I?

I am an Anglo-Irish writer who has lived in Japan for eighteen years. During that time, my interest in the Japanese supernatural has deepened to the point where it is now the main focus of my writing. In my free time, I enjoy traveling around Japan collecting local ghost stories and folk tales. This, along with my extensive reading of both fiction and non-fiction on the topic, has provided a rich source of inspiration for my writing. I am also a keen observer of people, daily life, and the environment in which I live, which helps me to colour and add realism to my stories. 

Andi's book list on Japanese yurei and yokai

Andi Brooks Why did Andi love this book?

This is the first in a three-volume set which I regard as one book. All are a total joy as they offer the reader the chance to read stories mostly not previously available in English. Having read the available famous stories of yurei and yokai to death, I felt like a little kid at Christmas when presented with the whole set (actually at Christmas!). Because the stories were written in many styles from the 1700s to the 2000s, and cover the whole range of Japanese ghost stories, I got a genuine insight into how tales of the Japanese supernatural have developed through the centuries and how the past influences the present. It was also interesting to see how contemporary events, such as World War II, influenced the stories. Just writing this makes me want to dive back into the stories.

By Higashi Masao (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kaiki as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Japan has a long history of weird and supernatural literature, but it has been introduced into English only haphazardly until now. The first volume of a 3-volume anthology covering over two centuries of kaiki literature, including both short stories and manga, from Ueda Akinari's "Ugetsu Monogatari" of 1776 to Kyogoku Natsuhiko's modern interpretations of popular tales. Selected and with commentary by Higashi Masao, a recognized researcher and author in the field, the series systemizes and introduces the scope of the field and helps establish it as a genre of its own. This first volume presents a variety of work focusing…


Book cover of The Sound of Waves

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

This is a gorgeous coming-of-age novel about a young, poor fisherman named Shinji who falls head over heels in love with a new girl on the island of Utajima. Japan’s most famous writer, Mishima, sets his romance in post-WWII where the innocence of Shinji and Hatsue is as pure and passionate as can be. The wind, the waves, the sea, the kiss that tastes of salt—all of nature intertwine with human life. The problem: Hatsue is actually the long-gone daughter of a major family who wants her to marry someone of equal social standing. With its humorous episodes, close descriptive imagery, and a plot that displays Mishima’s unabashed devotion to old-style traditions and customs, this little novel is one of my all-time favorites. 

By Yukio Mishima, Meredith Weatherby (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sound of Waves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in a remote fishing village in Japan, The Sound of Waves is a timeless story of first love. A young fisherman is entranced at the sight of the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest man in the village. They fall in love, but must then endure the calumny and gossip of the villagers.


Book cover of Kitchen

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

Kitchen is an utterly charming short novel by a modern writer whose protagonist, Mikage, is a young woman who must find a way to carry on after the death of her beloved grandmother who served as her sole caregiver-guardian. Her voice engages immediately: “The place I like best in this world is the kitchen.” Orphaned amidst the bustling world around her, Mikage hesitatingly accepts an invitation to move in with Yuichi, a boy who’d worked part-time in her grandmother’s flower shop. His situation is also unusual, as he lives with his trans mother—an elegant woman who actually is his biological father. Food serves as a compelling bond and plot twister. Expect lots of food and cooking in this novel, plus generous doses of pure kindness and unconditional love. 

By Banana Yoshimoto, Megan Backus (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kitchen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kitchen juxtaposes two tales about mothers, transsexuality, bereavement, kitchens, love and tragedy in contemporary Japan. It is a startlingly original first work by Japan's brightest young literary star and is now a cult film.

When Kitchen was first published in Japan in 1987 it won two of Japan's most prestigious literary prizes, climbed its way to the top of the bestseller lists, then remained there for over a year and sold millions of copies. Banana Yoshimoto was hailed as a young writer of great talent and great passion whose work has quickly earned a place among the best of modern…


Book cover of The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

Looking for a well-curated, wide variety of Japanese short stories written by nearly all the famous modernist novelists revered in Japan? This collection contains everything from Kawabata’s "The Izu Dancer" to Satomi Ton’s marvelously deep story called "Blowfish", wherein the hero—a famously talented Kabuki actor succumbs to the kind of brain-fogging, body-busting death that only blowfish poison can deliver. The author manages to get inside the head of his character, uncovering what transitioning into death feels like, with humor sprinkled here and there, and an emotional recollection/revelation about his own actor-father dying in a theater fire. 

By Theodore W. Goossen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection of short stories, including many new translations, is the first to span the whole of Japan's modern era from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. Beginning with the first writings to assimilate and rework Western literary traditions, through the flourishing of the short story genre in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Taisho era, to the new breed of writers produced under the constraints of literary censorship, and the current writings reflecting the pitfalls and paradoxes of modern life, this anthology offers a stimulating survey of the development of the Japanese short story. Various indigenous…


Book cover of NonNonBa

Julian Sedgwick Author Of Tsunami Girl

From my list on to explore otherworldly Japan.

Who am I?

From the age of 11, and an encounter with an illustrated anthology entitled The World of Zen, I have been drawn to and fascinated by the spiritual, philosophical, and folkloric aspects of East Asian Culture. I studied the subject at Cambridge University and subsequently trained in Zen Shiatsu therapy. Most of my books draw from my passion for East Asian culture, and Japan in particular. I have travelled widely in Japan over the last two decades, and for Tsunami Girl spent four years researching, interviewing survivors, and visiting Fukushima. I am now working on a new book on Japanese yōkai and ghosts…

Julian's book list on to explore otherworldly Japan

Julian Sedgwick Why did Julian love this book?

Shigeru Mizuki is the late, great god of alternative manga (or gekiga). Suffused with personal experience and reflections, his work by turns playfully and powerfully explores pre-war childhood, near-death war-time experiences, politics, and – most importantly – the world of Japanese yōkai monsters. Nononba tells the story of his childhood education by his grandmother into the world of supernatural Japan, leading the way to his great yōkai series GeGeGe Kitaro. A memoir of love and loss, childhood innocence and imagination, Nononba was, in turn, a great education for me. Funny, strange, tender, and wise. And in places it freaks you out too!

By Shigeru Mizuki, Jocelyne Allen (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked NonNonBa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first English translation of Mizuki's best-loved work

NonNonBa is the definitive work by acclaimed Gekiga-ka Shigeru Mizuki, a poetic memoir detailing his interest in yokai (spirit monsters). Mizuki's childhood experiences with yokai influenced the course of his life and oeuvre; he is now known as the forefather of yokai manga. His spring 2011 book, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, was featured on PRI's The World, where Marco Werman scored a coveted interview with one of the most famous visual artists working in Japan today.

Within the pages of NonNonBa, Mizuki explores the legacy left him by his childhood explorations…


Book cover of Shame and the Captives

Michael J. Murphy Author Of Beneath the Willow

From my list on fiction to immerse yourself in a historical narrative.

Who am I?

My passion for historical fiction writing stems from a lifelong interest in history and a love for creating stories that have rich characters, with deep and meaningful personalities. My interest in history led me to study the subject at university, which has worked hand-in-hand with the pleasure I get from writing. Researching stories is another aspect that I enjoy, and it has seen me travel to destinations all over the world, where I have made some wonderful friendships.

Michael's book list on fiction to immerse yourself in a historical narrative

Michael J. Murphy Why did Michael love this book?

Shame and the Captives is by the award-winning Tom Keneally.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Tom, and the edition that I have is signed by him. The novel is set in World War Two and based on the escape of Japanese prisoners of war at Cowra, Australia. The story moves between the camp itself and residents of the town, which gives the narrative a strong base for dramatic tension.

Throughout the novel, Keneally displays his ability to convey the subtleties of each character, which adds depth to the story and feeds questions about the choices made under situations of stress and uncertainty.

By Thomas Keneally,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shame and the Captives as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the edge of a small town in New South Wales, far from the battlefields of the Second World War, lies a prisoner-of-war camp housing Italian, Korean and Japanese soldiers. For their guards and the locals, many with loved ones away fighting, captive or dead, it is hard to know how to treat them - with disdain, hatred or compassion?

Alice, a young woman leading a dull life on her father-in-law's farm, is one of those with a husband held prisoner in Europe. When Giancarlo, an Italian POW and anarchist, is assigned to work on the farm, she hopes that…


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