Hokusai – Undead Hunter

Posted: April 14, 2012 in Japan, Novels
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I’ve been scrabbling around for a decent novel-sized project I want to do now. “The Cats” is 30,000 words, but is mainly for fun. “By The Sword” is crying out for a sequel but that is another story, as they say. There are two horror novel/novellas I want to finish, but not quite at the moment. I have a handful of more serious ideas, but those are… well, serious.

 The idea popped into my head yesterday… Hokusai, Undead Hunter. For those unfamiliar with the artist, Hokusai is famous for his ukiyo-e prints of thirty-six views of Mount Fuji and other iconic images… the great wave off Kanagawa. His father was a mirror-maker, and this featured in an earlier story of mine, Mira. Hokusai has never forgotten the demons and conjurations employed in mirror-magic.

So, Katsushika Hokusai will pack his materials and journey along the Tokaido (Great Eastern Road) between Edo and Kyoto, secretly commissioned by the Shogun to rid the route of the undead plaguing it, seeking out the souls of travellers far from home.

The Tokaido was made more famous by another ukiyo-e artist of the era, Utagawa Hiroshige, who created the Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido, but Hokusai had undertaken a similar project in earlier years, less well-known than Hiroshige’s memorable images. I’ll need to think about the images to use, perhaps drawing on some of Hiroshige’s work.,. what I’m thinking about doing is using Hiroshige’s better-known (and arguably more advanced) prints as a record of Hokusai’s quest, as Hiroshige later became a Buddhist monk.

The undead – yoma – are many and varied in Japanese folklore. The first part of the book will deal with the Kusokan phenomenon, The Contemplation Of Nine Stages of Decay, and this is already written, but for a different story. I want to include a faceless geisha, an possessive mask, a mirror-demon, taking heads in glass jars (a link to another story) and the tale of Hoichi the Earless from the Kwaidan epic. Plus a really big skeleton, called the Gashadokuro, which bites people’s heads off. There will be a modern-day link as well.

So I’d better get on with it. Hokusai, Undead Hunter  will do as a title for now.


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