BYU Asian Studies Journal


Emily Mitarai


BYU Asian Studies, Japanese Gothicism, Izumi Kyoka


Kyoka draws upon his inspiration of the past and seeks, in his own words, “not to portray reality as reality, but to seek beyond reality for some more powerful truth” (Carpenter 154). Izumi Kyoka (1873–1939) was a prolific writer in the Meiji Era of Japan who depicted the literature of his past from the kusazoshi (illustrated fiction of the Edo Era), the ghostliness of Ueda Akinari, and the supernatural of the No Theater (Carpenter 154). Although a prolific writer, few of Kyoka’s works have been translated into English. His works are rich with imagery, yet the scenes are not in any particular order. Charles Inouye describes the scenes as “a series of striking moments rather than a coherent work of art.” Although the moments may not be in a particular order, understanding the importance of imagery in Kyoka’s helps the reader understand the structure to his work. Some scholars have viewed his work as “perverse difficulty,” while others view him as one who creates “a mystery that transcends any particular place and time” (Inouye 43). Kyoka draws upon his past to explore roles of women in society, the boundary of life and death, and duty in Japanese society to create a world of transcendent reality.