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The Dark Side of Japan: Ancient Black Magic, Folklore, Ritual

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The Dark Side of Japan is a collection of folk tales, black magic, protection spells, monsters and other dark interpretations of life and death from Japanese folklore. Much of the information comes from ancient documents, translated into English here for the first time. Antony Cummins has also searched the now forgotten Victorian volumes on Japanese mythology and explains The Dark Side of Japan is a collection of folk tales, black magic, protection spells, monsters and other dark interpretations of life and death from Japanese folklore. Much of the information comes from ancient documents, translated into English here for the first time. Antony Cummins has also searched the now forgotten Victorian volumes on Japanese mythology and explains recent academic research on Japan for the non-expert. Antony has transformed the complex information into a modern rendering, with stories and details that let a modern reader enter into the world of the forgotten legends of old Japan and the superstitions that colour them, some of which still exist today. The Dark Side of Japan is profusely illustrated, with drawings showcasing the ‘hellish’ concepts within. And remarkably hellish they are, too. Consider the kappa: ‘goblin-like creatures that have the body of a child, the face of a tiger adorned with a beak and the shell of a turtle. They drag people into rivers and ponds and drown them. If a woman gives birth to a kappa baby after being raped, the baby is hacked to death.’


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The Dark Side of Japan is a collection of folk tales, black magic, protection spells, monsters and other dark interpretations of life and death from Japanese folklore. Much of the information comes from ancient documents, translated into English here for the first time. Antony Cummins has also searched the now forgotten Victorian volumes on Japanese mythology and explains The Dark Side of Japan is a collection of folk tales, black magic, protection spells, monsters and other dark interpretations of life and death from Japanese folklore. Much of the information comes from ancient documents, translated into English here for the first time. Antony Cummins has also searched the now forgotten Victorian volumes on Japanese mythology and explains recent academic research on Japan for the non-expert. Antony has transformed the complex information into a modern rendering, with stories and details that let a modern reader enter into the world of the forgotten legends of old Japan and the superstitions that colour them, some of which still exist today. The Dark Side of Japan is profusely illustrated, with drawings showcasing the ‘hellish’ concepts within. And remarkably hellish they are, too. Consider the kappa: ‘goblin-like creatures that have the body of a child, the face of a tiger adorned with a beak and the shell of a turtle. They drag people into rivers and ponds and drown them. If a woman gives birth to a kappa baby after being raped, the baby is hacked to death.’

55 review for The Dark Side of Japan: Ancient Black Magic, Folklore, Ritual

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily Boucher

    DNF There are so many problems with this book that it's not even worth going into. I feel duped and stupid for buying it. It is extremely poorly written, the author has absolutely no credentials and the information is corrupt because it is completely out of context. The research is poorly done, poorly documented and poorly applied. And I can say with a completely straight face that I could organize a better paragraph when I was in elementary school. If you're interested in fun & quirky tidbits abo DNF There are so many problems with this book that it's not even worth going into. I feel duped and stupid for buying it. It is extremely poorly written, the author has absolutely no credentials and the information is corrupt because it is completely out of context. The research is poorly done, poorly documented and poorly applied. And I can say with a completely straight face that I could organize a better paragraph when I was in elementary school. If you're interested in fun & quirky tidbits about Japan I would check out the podcast Uncanny Japan by author Theresa Matsuura. If you want Japanese urban legends/horror check out the podcasts Kowabana & Toshiden by Tara Devlin or check out her books. If you want a book about Japanese creatures check out the amazingly well researched The Book of Yokai by Michael Dylan Foster. If you're interested in Japanese legends and folklore read the legends themselves. There are a lot of books of Japanese legends out there.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    This was a very good introduction to folklore and folk tales from Japan. I was skeptical, because I heard the author's interview on Coast to Coast AM, and he did not seem to remember what was in his own book; however, the book itself is an interesting and fun introduction to a topic about which I know very little. I am interested enough to read some of the author's other books. My only issue was poor proofreading near the end. It seemed as if entire words were left out of sentences in places, bu This was a very good introduction to folklore and folk tales from Japan. I was skeptical, because I heard the author's interview on Coast to Coast AM, and he did not seem to remember what was in his own book; however, the book itself is an interesting and fun introduction to a topic about which I know very little. I am interested enough to read some of the author's other books. My only issue was poor proofreading near the end. It seemed as if entire words were left out of sentences in places, but I tried not to let that interfere with my enjoyment of the topics presented. On the one hand, I question the attention to detail in the research if attention is not paid to basic proofreading. On the other hand, I can be too judgmental and just need to let little things go. In any case, I enjoyed this introduction to a new interest.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Skip it. Or just read the sources he lists in the biography instead.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kylie

    In a word: disappointing. It's written very abruptly with lack of detail - I'm assuming this is Cummings' attempt to summarise information and/or paraphrase other authors' work, but it makes for disjointed and unsatisfying reading if you're genuinely interested in the subject. If you're a complete newcomer to the subjects it might be worth a read to see if it's worth you picking up anything more complex on your favourite aspects, other than that you need to skip it. In a word: disappointing. It's written very abruptly with lack of detail - I'm assuming this is Cummings' attempt to summarise information and/or paraphrase other authors' work, but it makes for disjointed and unsatisfying reading if you're genuinely interested in the subject. If you're a complete newcomer to the subjects it might be worth a read to see if it's worth you picking up anything more complex on your favourite aspects, other than that you need to skip it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bill Anderson

    The book that told me that human saliva is poisonous to centipedes. Amusing anecdotes from Japanese folklore. (Note that I have not tested my saliva on centipedes)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Hickey

    Wholly entertaining

  7. 4 out of 5

    I. S.

    All in all this book did hold some interesting information, but I’m just not a fan of how it was presented. Each subject was very briefly touched on, almost more like the book was a bunch of lists in prose form. There was a list of books for further reading, but I really would have preferred to see foot or end notes so I could easily find the sources for each section. That way, I would be able to find (hopefully) the specific subjects I wanted to read more about.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason McCuiston

    This is a great resource for anyone interested in Japanese folklore, myth, and superstition. As a writer, I found it full of story idea and reference material. My only complaint is that it is so short, giving the reader a broad overview rather than an in-depth exploration of this particular mythos. But I feel it adequately does fulfill the author’s intention of introducing the reader to the darker side of Japanese historic culture. Though I hope later editions are better edited.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachael Bradshaw

    3.5/5 This was okay. It condensed many of the writings of Lafcadio Hearn into bite-sized stories, often snipping off some of the charm too. Also, while I'm in no way an expert about Japan, it seemed to me that he attempted to make certain traditions seem scarier than they really are (like Obon, for example, which is a time when people honor their ancestors, not really a spooky ghost time). 3.5/5 This was okay. It condensed many of the writings of Lafcadio Hearn into bite-sized stories, often snipping off some of the charm too. Also, while I'm in no way an expert about Japan, it seemed to me that he attempted to make certain traditions seem scarier than they really are (like Obon, for example, which is a time when people honor their ancestors, not really a spooky ghost time).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jbondandrews

    While I enjoyed reading The Dark Side of Japan, I felt that the author was trying to cram too much information in too few pages. It also felt that some of the stories lacked an ending. Some of the illustrations were good but would have been better in colour.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mariah

    the books almost a condensed record and I am convinced there is more

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ulquiorra

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Pearson

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Moore

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather Koski

  16. 4 out of 5

    Miloš

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eistira Saleh

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashe Herrin

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jérôme

  20. 4 out of 5

    LJ Ramones

  21. 4 out of 5

    Korey Bradley

  22. 5 out of 5

    Margot Nikiforova

  23. 4 out of 5

    Matias Selzer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stefania

  26. 4 out of 5

    Holly Terris

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tatsume

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris Bellevie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Meg Larson

  31. 5 out of 5

    twin0mega

  32. 5 out of 5

    Tammi

  33. 4 out of 5

    Luke

  34. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  35. 4 out of 5

    Valentin

  36. 5 out of 5

    RB

  37. 4 out of 5

    Briana

  38. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Salley

  39. 4 out of 5

    Fishface

  40. 5 out of 5

    Noelle

  41. 5 out of 5

    Jared

  42. 5 out of 5

    Jazeris

  43. 5 out of 5

    Ángelo Del Campo

  44. 4 out of 5

    Jason Bartley

  45. 5 out of 5

    Gray Wulf

  46. 5 out of 5

    James

  47. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  48. 4 out of 5

    Sara Westbrook

  49. 5 out of 5

    Liam Thomas

  50. 4 out of 5

    Polar Bear Star

  51. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  52. 4 out of 5

    Ric Ky

  53. 4 out of 5

    Ricky Tan

  54. 5 out of 5

    Quietnoise

  55. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielius

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