Natsuhiko Kyogoku (京極 夏彦 Kyōgoku Natsuhiko, born March 26, 1963) is a Japanese mystery writer,
who is a member of Ōsawa Office.
Three of his novels have been turned into feature films; Mōryō no Hako, which won the 49th Mystery Writers of Japan Award, was also made into an anime TV series, as was Kosetsu Hyaku Monogatari, and his book Loups=Garous was adapted into an anime feature film. Vertical have published his debut novel as The Summer of the Ubume.
Kyogoku was born in Otaru, Hokkaido. After dropping out of Kuwasawa Design School, he worked as a publicity agent and established a design company.
In 1994, Kodansha published his first novel The Summer of the Ubume (姑獲鳥の夏 Ubume no Natsu). He has since written many novels, and received two Japanese literary prizes; Kyogoku won the 16th Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize for Nozoki Koheiji in 2003, and won the 130th Naoki Prize for Nochi no Kōsetsu Hyaku Monogatari in 2004.
Most of his works are concerned with yōkai, creatures from Japanese folklore; he describes himself as a yōkai researcher. This preference was strongly influenced by Shigeru Mizuki, who is an eminent yokai specialist.
Kyogoku participates in Mizuki’s World Yōkai Association and is a member of the Kanto Mizuki Association and the Research Institute of Mysterious and Marvelous East Asian phenomena.
Kyogoku considers yōkai folklore to be a form of sublimation and applied this idea to his novels.
His works are often advertised as yōkai novels by the publisher, and their covers reflect this. Nevertheless in his writing, yōkai themselves don’t appear, except as fables, which serve to explicate the criminal characters’ motives. For example, in The Summer of the Ubume, ubume is introduced as part of a ghostly expectant mother folklore, considered to be an expression of hate.
However, ubume doesn’t actually appear until the end.
In Kyogoku’s works, especially the Kyōgokudō Series, the main character Akihiko Chuzenji (中禅 寺 秋彦 Chūzenji Akihiko) solves a case by clearing up a possession; this technique is called Tsukimono- Otoshi, the most striking aspect of his novels.
This term is from Onmyōdō: the exorcism of yōkai, demons or ghosts. Chuzenji does Tsukimono-Otoshi as part of his rhetoric he uses in exposing the criminal character’s hidden pathos, and likens the emotion to a particular yōkai folklore.
This often solves the mystery, but this result is only an unexpected by-product for Chuzenji.
Another characteristic of his work is book design: cover, thickness and layout. As explained above, he has founded a design company before, and after he became a novelist, has been working as a designer too.
Therefore, remarkably for novelists, he is always concerned with the binding process of his works directly, and sometimes designs other novelists’ books, e.g., Gankyū Kitan , Yukito Ayatsuji.
Kyogoku’s books’ covers are elaborately designed to match their themes. In Kyōgokudō Series, the covers always represent yōkai featured in each weird story.
In Kodansha Novels version of this series, the covers are illustrations drawn by Shirou Tatsumi and Ayako Ishiguro, and in Kodansha Bunko version, the covers are photographs of paper dolls made by Ryō Arai .
In Kosetsu Hyaku Monogatari Series, the covers also represent yōkai, and as for the first edition of this series, the reverse sides of covers are fearful ukiyo-e which connect the story, e.g., Ono no Komachi Kyūsōzu.
On the other hand, unlike these horror works, in Dosukoi Series, because these novels are comedies burlesquing other Japanese novels, the covers always represent funny fat sumo wrestlers.
Almost all Kyogoku’s books, especially Kyōgokudō Series, are very thick in comparison with other Japanese novels. For example, Tesso no Ori is 826 pages long, Jorōgumo no Kotowari is 829 pages long, Nuribotoke no Utage, Utage no Shitaku and Nuribotoke no Utage, Utage no Shimatsu, a novel in two volumes, is 1248 pages long in total.
Because of the thickness, his books look like bricks or dice, and are often called “brick books” or “dice books”.
The layout of Kyogoku’s writing is arranged according to his own rules. A sentence never crosses over a page break. Moreover, every time a new version is published, Kyogoku always lays out the work again according to this rule.
He explained the intention, “I made it possible for readers to stop reading whenever they want to. If one sentence steps over, readers who are weary of reading must turn over the page.
I sense that is contemptible, because not interest to the story but physical factor force readers to read.” Second, many kanji characters in his writing are invariably given kana characters alongside. Kyogoku can use DTP software perfectly, so he freely writes old-fashioned characters and ateji characters with the purpose of capturing old Japanese atmosphere in his novels.
However, such characters are difficult even for Japanese people to read. Therefore, giving kana characters alongside kanji characters in his writing is essential for readers to be able to understand those characters’ meaning. Third, sentences are marked out by entering null lines before and after them on purpose.
That technique enables readers to perceive the curious blank
where the important sentences are written. In these ways, Kyogoku always keeps readability in mind, and dedicates himself not only to sentences but also the layout.
These qualities do not, however, carry over to the English translations of his books.
J’Lit | Authors : Natsuhiko Kyogoku | Books from Japan (http://www.booksfromjapan.jp/authors/item/626-natsuhiko-kyogoku)(English)
Ubume no Natsu (1994) /The Summer of the Ubume, (Natsuhiko Kyogoku, Vertical, 2009)
Mōryō no Hako (1995)
Kyōkotsu no Yume (1995)
Tesso no Ori (1996)
Jorōgumo no Kotowari (1996)
Nuribotoke no Utage, Utage no Shitaku (1998)
Nuribotoke no Utage, Utage no Shimatsu (1998)
Onmoraki no Kizu (2003)
Jyami no Shizuku (2006)
Short story collections
Koten Kaisaku Series
Koten Kaisaku Series
Wrau Iemon (1997)
Nozoki Koheiji (2002)
Kazoezu no Ido (2010)
Kōsetsu Hyaku Monogatari Series
Kōsetsu Hyaku Monogatari Series
Kōsetsu Hyaku Monogatari (1999)
Zoku Kōsetsu Hyaku Monogatari (2001)
Nochi no Kōsetsu Hyaku Monogatari (2003)
Saki no Kōsetsu Hyaku Monogatari (2007)
Nishi no Kōsetsu Hyaku Monogatari (2010)
Loup-Garou: Kihisubeki Ōkami (2001) /Loups-Garous (Natsuhiko Kyogoku, VIZ Media LLC, 2010)
Loup-Garou 2: Incubus, Succubus, Aiirenu Muma (2011)
Shineba Ii no ni (2010) / Why Don’t You Just Die? (Natsuhiko Kyogoku, Kodansha, 2011)
Short story collections
Iya na Shōsetsu (2009)
Kyogen Shōnen (2011)
Iru no Inai no (2012)
Works in English translation
The Summer of the Ubume (original title: Ubume no Natsu), trans. Alexander O. Smith (Vertical, 2009)
Loups-Garous (original title: Rū Garū), trans. Anne Ishii (Viz Media, 2010)
Standalone crime novel
Why Don’t You Just Die? (original title: Shineba Ii no ni), trans. Takami Nieda (Kodansha, 2011)
Three Old Tales of Terror (original title: Dare ga Tsukutta, Nani ga Shitai, Doko ni Ita), trans. Rossa O’Muireartaigh (Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan, Volume 1: Tales of Old Edo, Kurodahan Press, 2009)
TV and film adaptations
Warau Iemon (2004)
The Summer of the Ubume (2005)
Mōryō no Hako (2007)
Animated TV series
Requiem from the Darkness (2003)
Mōryō no Hako (2008)
1996 – Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel: Mōryō no Hako (Box of Goblins)
1997 – Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature: Warau Iemon (Laughing Iemon)
2003 – Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize: Nozoki Koheiji (Peeping Koheiji )
2004 – Naoki Prize: Nochi no Kōsetsu Hyaku Monogatari (Still More Ghost Stories from About Town)
2011 – Shibata Renzaburo Award: Nishi no Kōsetsu Hyaku Monogatari (Ghost Stories from About Town in the West )
2. ^ Vertical at the New York Anime Festival (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/convention/2007/vertical)
3. ^ Our R25 Days 2005. ISBN 4-532-19317-6
4. ^ Kyōgoku Natsuhiko Talk Collection Yōkai Large Preaching 2005. ISBN 4-04-883925-X : pp.7-27
5. ^ This is Our Kyōgoku Natsuhiko 2004. ISBN 4-7966-4269-2 : pp.11-12
6. ^ Kyōgoku Natsuhiko Ubume no Natsu. 1994. ISBN 4-06-181798-1
7. ^ Ayatsuji Yukito Gankyū Kitan (). 1995. ISBN 4-08-774166-4
10. ^ : Feature (http://www.adobe.com/jp/print/features/kyogoku/)
11. ^ : Feature (http://www.adobe.com/jp/print/features/kyogoku/page2.html)
12. ^ Natsuhiko Kyogoku Why Don’t You Just Die? for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch on the iTunes App Store (http://itunes.apple.com/en/app/id373970450)
13. ^ Natsuhiko Kyogoku Why Don’t You Just Die? HD for iPad on the App Store on iTunes (http://itunes.apple.com/en/app/id373977140)
14. ^ Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan, Volume 1: Tales of Old Edo | Kurodahan Press (http://www.kurodahan.com/mt/e/catalog/jp0007cate.html) (English)
15. ^ J’Lit | Publications : Peeping Koheiji | Books from Japan (http://www.booksfromjapan.jp/publications/item/627-peeping-koheiji) (English)
16. ^ J’Lit | Publications : Still More Ghost Stories from About Town | Books from Japan (http://www.booksfromjapan.jp/publications/item/826-still-more-ghost-stories-from-about-town) (English)
17. ^ J’Lit | Publications : Ghost Stories from About Town in the West | Books from Japan (http://www.booksfromjapan.jp/publications/item/1291-ghost-stories-from-about-town-in-the-west) (English)
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