top of page

“Gothic in Japan” Symposium

A symposium that investigates the Gothic’s status

as a site of intercultural exchange

between Japan and Anglophone countries and across Asian cultures

Saturday 13 January 2018,

10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Integrated Research Building for Humanities and Social Sciences, Nagoya University



In addition to signifying a style of architecture, the English term ‘Gothic’ refers to a type of fiction that uses mysterious locations, strange events and frightening characters to overwhelm readers with feelings of terror and horror.  In recent years, the global nature of this literary genre and cultural form has increasingly been recognized, and scholars such as Andrew Hock Soon Ng, Katarzyna Ancuta and Charles Shiro Inouye have highlighted the relationship between Anglophone Gothic and analogous cultural and narrative traditions in Japan and the status of the Gothic in East Asian cultures.

While the Japanese adaptation ‘goshikku’ (ゴシック) is used typically in relation to street-fashion and pulp horror fiction, the English word is broader in meaning, applicable to canonical and popular forms of art, design, fashion, film, literature and music from the mid-eighteenth-century to the present, including Japanese Kaidan-shū (怪談集) or ‘strange stories’), j-horror classics from Kaneto Shindo’s 1968 Yabuno Naka No Kuroneko (藪の中の黒猫 or 'The Black Cat') to Takashi Shimizu’s 2003 Ju-On (呪怨 or ‘Ju-On: The Grudge’), the writings of Izumi Kyoka, Edogawa Rampo and Kōji Suzuki and Japanese adaptations of British Gothic sources such as Ishirō Hondo’s 1968 film Furankenshutain Tai Chitei Kaijū Baragon (フランケンシュタイン対地底怪獣バラゴン or ‘Frankenstein Conquers the World’).  In addition, Japan been imagined as a Gothic location by Anglophone writers as varied as David Belasco, Alice Maybel Bacon, William Elliott Griffis, James S. De Benneville and Dorothy Wayman.


This symposium investigates the Gothic’s status as a site of intercultural exchange between Japan and Anglophone countries and across Asian cultures.


Discussion will explore questions including:


  • To what extent can Japanese narrative forms be labelled Gothic?

  • What might the psychoanalytic and new historicist methodologies applied conventionally to Gothic texts reveal about Japanese cultural artefacts? To what extent might these narratives suggest unique approaches?

  • How might an understanding of philosophies, histories and viewpoints prevalent in Japan (Shintō, Confucianism, Buddhism) reshape our understanding of the Gothic and classic Gothic texts

  • How have canonical Gothic texts been received in Japan? In what ways has Japan gothicised Western texts as part of their reception and adaptation?

  • Is Gothic a feature of Japanese modernity? Or does it predate interactions with the West?  If the Gothic can be said to be a Japanese tradition how does that complicate our understandings of Western Gothic?

  • How does the Gothic represent and respond to European imperialism and globalization? Is the Gothic a feature of globalization or a critique of it?

  • How does Japanese Gothic intersect with the Gothic in other East Asian nations?


10:00     Registration

10:15     Introduction

Alex Watson (Nagoya University)

10:25     Plenary

Catherine Spooner (Lancaster University)

‘“Baby, the stars shine bright”: Happy Gothic in Japan’

11:25-11:40     Break

11:40-13:10     Panel 1


Lindsay Nelson (Meiji University) 

‘Pure Poison: The Gothic Femme Fatale in Japanese Horror Cinema’

Fiona Tomkinson (Nagoya University)

‘Iris Murdoch’s “Japanese Gothic”’

Yuto Koizumi (Tokyo Institute of Technology)

‘The Revelation of Murder as a Reflection of Modern Gothic Japan in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure’

13:10-13:55     Lunch Break (lunch to be provided)

13:55-14:55     Panel 2

Samantha Landau (Showa Women’s University)

‘Passionate Women, Vengeful Spirits: Female Ghosts and the Japanese Gothic Mode’

Yu Umemiya (Waseda University)

‘Macbeth and The Throne of Blood: Kurosawa’s Approach to Western Gothic’

14:55-15:10     Break

15:10-16:00     Sarah Olive (University of York)

‘Vanguard taste and fashion spirit’: a Chinese trigger for exploring feminist responses to twenty-first century, Western zeitgeist in vampire Romeo and Juliet texts’

16:00- 16.30     Roundtable

Mark Weeks (Nagoya University)

Alex Watson (Nagoya University)


Conference Hall, Integrated Research Building for Humanities and Social Sciences,

Nagoya University (Higashiyama Campus)

(名古屋大学(東山キャンパス) 文系総合館 カンファレンスホール)

(See B4-4 in the PDF map)

Directions from the closest subway station to Conference Hall

(最寄り駅から会場への行き方) (PDF)




Dr. Alex Watson (Nagoya University) 


Dr. Sarah Olive (University of York)

bottom of page