The Summer of the Ubume, by Natsuhiko Kyogoku

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The Summer of the Ubume, by Natsuhiko Kyogoku

The Summer of the Ubume, by Natsuhiko Kyogoku

The Summer of the Ubume, by Natsuhiko Kyogoku

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The Summer of the Ubume, by Natsuhiko Kyogoku

In Japanese folklore, a ghost that arise from the burial of a pregnant woman is an Ubume.

The Summer of Ubume is the first of Japan’s hugely popular Kyogokudo series, which has 9 titles and 4 spinoffs thus far.

Akihiko “Kyogokudo” Chuzenji, the title’s hero, is an exorcist with a twist: he doesn’t blieve in ghosts. To circumnavigate his clients’ inability to come to grips with a problem being their own, he creates fake supernatural explanations–ghosts–that he the “exorcises” by way of staged rituals. His patients’ belief that he has vanquished the ghost creating their problems cures them.

In this first adventure, Kyogokudo, must unravel the mystery of a woman who has been pregnant for 20 months and find her husband, who disappeared two months into the pregnancy. And unravel he does, in the book’s final disturbing scene.

  • Sales Rank: #216197 in Books
  • Published on: 2009-08-18
  • Released on: 2009-08-18
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 8.19″ h x .85″ w x 5.50″ l, .65 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 320 pages

Most helpful customer reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful.
Great book
By Amagiri
I found about the Kyogokudo series through a recent anime called Mouryou no Hako, the second book in the series. The Summer of Ubume is the first.

I found the pace of the book to be rather slow in the beginning chapter, but once the investigative work started up, I couldn’t put the novel down. I read a good majority of it in two days times.

His character Akihiko Chuuzenji purports, “There is nothing strange in this world.” The author, Natsuhiko Kyogoku, attempts to meld what is considered supernatural with the real world. He writes about a post-WWII modernizing Japan that still holds traditional superstitions such as possessing people with spirits. The lectures given by Chuuzenji often attempt to debunk the idea of spirits as the cause of a particular misfortune or explain certain phenomena like clairvoyance as something very real and of this world. It can be heavy at times, but the theories that he throws out are interesting and makes one think.

I would recommend this novel to people who enjoy the mystery genre but are not faint of heart. The truth behind the case is rather gruesome and disturbing, and the author does not mind detailing it. It is also a look into Japanese folklore and spirits, a whole different culture.

I hope that Vertical Inc. will be able to translate the whole series, as this series is like nothing I’ve encountered before.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful.
A risky translation reaps a great reward
By Avery
This isn’t exactly a popular title to be translating into English, and the subject matter should have made it an automatic rejection at the publishing house. Let me get this straight… this is a book about obscure elements of the Japanese occult… described for dozens of pages on end with exacting historical detail and explained via psychology and philosophy of the mind… and this detailed backstory almost takes up more of the book than the mystery itself? Who would read it?!

Well, under the hands of an able translator, this book is not only readable but quite exciting. It’s an extremely memorable read and makes you think differently about paranormal stories. It’s definitely a modern tale that appeals to one’s skeptical instinct while still cranking up the suspense and the stomach-wrenching horror. Pick it up.

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
Bizarre mix of folklore, philosophy & crime
By Patto
An ubume is the spirit of a woman who dies pregnant. Grieving for her dead child, she’s always on the lookout for live babies to steal. She’s having a field day in The Summer of the Ubume.

It’s 1952, and Tokyo is still recovering from the war. Rumor says that several babies have gone missing from the Kuonji obstetrics clinic. Rumor also reports that a Kuonji daughter has been pregnant for twenty months! And her husband has vanished!

It will take a bevy of detectives to penetrate the multiple mysteries of the Kuonji family:

TThere’s Enokizu, an eccentric visionary hired by a Ryoko Kuonji to find her sister’s vanished husband. Then there’s Kyogokudo – bookseller, Shinto priest and part-time exorcist who applies his penetrating intellect to the case. Then we have the narrator, Sekiguchi, depressive hack journalist with a mysterious desire to serve Ryoko. And finally there’s Kiba, an actual police detective.

Early on, Kyogokudo lectures his friend Sekiguchi on reality vs. illusion. My attention frankly flagged after twenty-eight pages of this. But finally the pace picked up, and the plot became positively gothic, encompassing demons, deviants, possession, repression, colorful psychological aberrations and arcane herbal drugs. Amazingly, the author explains it all in terms of science, psychology and logic.

This is not my favorite Japanese novel. It’s too over-the-top for my taste, but this very quality will appeal to many other readers. There’s no doubt the book is inventive and original. And I did admire the author’s passion for mischievous supernatural creatures. Natsuhiko Kyogoku is an expert on Japanese folklore.

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