J-Horror is a term used to refer to Japanese contributions to horror fiction in popular culture. J-Horror is noted for its unique thematic and conventional treatment of the horror genre in light of western treatments. J-horror tends to focus on psychological horror and tension building (anticipation), particularly involving ghosts and poltergeists, while many contain themes of folk religion such as: possession, exorcism, shamanism, precognition, and yōkai.


The origin of the J-Horror can be traced to horror and ghost story classics of the Edo period and the Meiji period, which were known as "kwaidan". Elements of several of these popular folktales have been worked into the stories of modern films, especially in the traditional nature of the Japanese ghost.

J-Horror and Popular Culture


The success of the 1998 film "Ring" brought the image of the yūrei to Western popular culture for the first time, although the image has existed in Japan for centuries.

Yūrei are Japanese ghosts, ones who have been bound to the physical world through strong emotions which do not allow them to pass on. Depending on the emotion that binds them, they manifest as a particular type of ghost. Most common to J-Horror is the onryō, a yūrei bound by a desire for vengeance.

Like many creatures of folklore, like vampires or werewolves, yūrei have a traditional appearance and follow a certain set of rules.

They are generally female, although male yūrei do exist. They wear white clothing, which is the color of funeral garb in Japan. They have long, often unkempt black hair, which comes from Kabuki theater where each character has a particular type of wig that identifies them to the audience.

J-Horror in Film

Notable Japanese horror films

Examples of this genre are:

*"Audition" (aka "Ôdishon")
*"Cursed" (Yoshihiro Hoshino, 2004)
*" The Curse"
*"Dark Tales of Japan series (various directors)
*"Dark Water" (aka "Honogurai Mizu No Soko Kara")
*"Guinea Pig (film series)" Flower of Flesh and Blood
*"Infection" (aka "Kansen")
*"Jigoku" (1960)
*"Jisatsu saakuru" (aka "Suicide Club" or "Suicide Circle")
*"Ju-on", "Ju-on 2", ', ', ""
*"Kairo" (aka "Pulse")
*"Pyrokinesis" (2000)
*"Kwaidan" (1964)
*"Marebito" (2004)
*"Naked Blood"
*"Onibaba" (1964)
*"One Missed Call" (aka "Chakushin Ari")
*"One Missed Call 2" (aka "Chakushin Ari 2")
*"" (aka "Chakushin Ari: Final")
*"Parasite Eve"
*"Premonition" (aka "Yogen")
*"Reincarnation" (aka "Rinne")
*"Ring", "Rasen", "Ring 2", ""
*"" (aka "Tetsuo")
*"Tokyo Gore Police" TGP
*"Unholy Women"

Notable Japanese horror directors

* Hideo Nakata
* Kaneto Shindo
* Masaki Kobayashi
* Nobuo Nakagawa
* Takashi Miike
* Takashi Shimizu
* Kiyoshi Kurosawa
* Ataru Oikawa ("Tomie", based on Ito Junji's manga of the same name)
* Akihiro Higuchi ("Uzumaki", based on Ito Junji's manga of the same name)
* Norio Tsuruta ("Yogen", "Borei Gakkyu" and "")

J-Horror in Anime and Manga

Certain popular J-Horror films are based on manga, including "Tomie", "Uzumaki" and "Yogen".

J-Horror in Videogames

*Fatal Frame
*Silent Hill

Japanese horror influence

In the past few years, there has been a trend going on to localize, in the USA, some of the more popular Japanese Horror films, but rather than simply adding subtitles or dubbing the works, they have been entirely remade. "Ring" was one of the first to be remade in America as "The Ring", and later "The Ring Two" (although this remake bears almost no similarity to the original Japanese sequel).

Here is a list of some J-Horror films that have been remade for the US market.

*The Grudge - 2004
*Dark Water - 2005
*Pulse - 2006
*One Missed Call - 2008

Interestingly, many of the original directors who created these Asian horror films have gone on to direct the American remakes. For example, Hideo Nakata, director of "Ring", directed the remake "The Ring Two" and Takashi Shimizu, director of the original "Ju-on", directed the remake "The Grudge" and its sequel, "The Grudge 2".

Several other Asian countries have been remaking these Japanese horror films as well. For example, South Korea created their own version of the J-horror classic "Ring", titled "The Ring Virus."

Inspired by current trends in J-horror, the first film by Los Angeles-based writer-director Jason Cuadrado, Tales From The Dead, is a horror film in four parts which Cuadrado filmed with a cast of Japanese actors speaking their native tongue.

ee also

* Horror film
* J-Horror Theater

External links

* [http://www.seekjapan.jp/article-1/765/J-Horror:+An+Alternative+Guide "J-Horror: An Alternate Guide"] "Japanzine" by Zack Davisson
* [http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2008/02/01/remaking-asian-horror-a-brief-history Remaking Asian Horror - A Brief History]

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