I was at the hairdressers today and randomly chose Ring by Koji Suzuki from our bookshelf to read while my roots went from brown to blonde. While I was in the chair, it got me thinking about how great Japanese horror films are and how in some small way they’ve contributed not only to my desire to visit Japan, but also my understanding of Japanese culture and social dynamics.

(supposedly haunted school in Japan, from our gallery)

Japan has a great tradition of horror: from scary folk stories handed down through generations; to Godzilla and his cronies rampaging through down-town Tokyo; and more recently female protagonists battling curses and psychological terror. I’d love to read more about this subject, and if you’d like to too then I suggest taking a look at Nightmare Japan by Jay McRoy, Archetypes in Japanese Film by Gregory Barrett and Planks of Reason by Barry Keith Grant & Christopher Sharrett.

But what can Japan offer the tourist horror connoisseur? Quite a lot actually!

We’ve already blogged about the Lock Up chain of prison/horror-themed restaurants, where you can mix your own cocktail from a mad scientist’s equipment, and Christon Cafe in Shinjuku – a gothic haven away from the hustle & bustle & neon of Japan’s capital city. Another restaurant worth mentioning that’s along these lines is Alcatraz ER – just imagine the kind of dining experience you’d have if you taped over a prison film with an episode of a science show and a particularly gory advert for a medical procedure and brought the whole mess to life. Sign me up!

If you’re out & about and a fancy knicker-wettingly terrifying time, then Samuel highly recommends the haunted hospital (or chou senristumeikyuu as it’s known in Japanese) at Fuji Kyu Highlands theme park. Take some time out – you’ll need to mentally prepare yourself for a 45-minute walk in a dark maze, where passages lead you back on yourself through psychiatric wards and operating theatres. This is Saw… but right in front of you!

Finally, for those who like their fashion as spooky as their films, I can whole-heartedly recommend clothing by h.Naoto. Look out for artfully deconstructed hems, tattered prints and a lot of fraying.  I think a whole outfit from this brand may look a little over the top for an everyday look, but items are so wonderfully created that they make a real individual statement by themselves.


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