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姑獲鳥の夏 (百鬼夜行 #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  606 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
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
文庫, 630 pages
Published by 講談社 (first published January 1st 1994)
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Nancy Oakes
Like a 3.8 on the star scale
Summer of the Ubume is a mystery story with strong supernatural overtones, one that starts out a bit slow but picks up and gets progressively more weird as it moves along toward its ending, which is the most bizarre solution to a mystery I've run across in all of my years of reading. And I've been reading a long, long time.

The year is 1952, the place Tokyo. The war is over, the American Occupation has ended, people are trying to get back to "normal" life but quite ye
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
One of my favourite novels ever, and a very nice translation - Alexander O. Smith has made a wonderful effort here overall, utilising challenging language forms which are consistent with both the original Japanese form and the storyline as translated. There are a couple of minor problems with the translation, mostly in terms related to everyday Japanese culture (are "rice-flower dumplings" actually "mochi" or "dango", or something else entirely?).

The story itself is delightfully logical. Kyogoku
Jacqui Geisel
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read
This was a very interesting mystery. I will admit, sometimes I found myself getting a bit annoyed and/or bored when Kyogokudo would start talking on and on and on about things (even though the things he goes on about are, of course, related to the plot), but it wasn't enough to stop me from thoroughly enjoying this book. I'd heard that the solution to the mystery was rather disturbing, and indeed it was. I found myself still thinking about it quite awhile after I'd finished the book.

There are ei
Ignacio Senao f
Esperaba mucho pelo en seres blanquísimos a cuadrúpeda por techos y sonidos chillones.

Te encuentras tan solos dos escenarios: una biblioteca donde hacen charlas filosóficas y preguntas con respuestas de cultureta. Y una habitación de una mansión donde hacen lo mismo: charlas filosóficas… pero esta vez hay una mujer postrada en una cama que lleva más de un año embarazada. Las habladurías se llevan a cabo en saber por qué sucede ese hecho y otro más: un hombre desaparece de una habitación sin vent
Read the first 98 pages, and will not finish the other third. My review covers only the first 100 pages.

Set in an indeterminate time a few years after WWII, The Summer of the Ubume starts with a tabloid writer visiting his friend to talk about a woman who has been pregnant for 20 months. Which sounds really interesting, until the journalist's used book dealer/part-time Shinto priest friend spends FORTY-FIVE PAGES talking about everything else but the actual point of the book. This was a philosph
Mar 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Hmmm. This was an interesting book.

Alright. The first 80 pages or so are really slow. It's basically just the protagonist and Kyogokudo talking about metaphysics, folklore, and quantum uncertainty. A bit of a slog, but there are some necessary plot points in there nonetheless. After that, however, the mystery starts in earnest, and it is actually a really interesting mystery. I was completely caught up in all the different plot threads, ranging from the three dead babies to the mystery of Kyoko
Violetta Vane
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird-fiction
This book begins with fifty pages of two guys talking to each other. It ends with fifty pages of spill-the-beans mopping-up-the-case dialogue. There are really only two scenes in which things happen, and in both cases, they're shockingly violent. The languid pacing but big payoff reminded me a lot of the classic Nicolas Roeg horror movie, Don't Look Now.

Kyogokudo, the supposed "hero" of the book, is deeply unsympathetic and patronizing. The narrator, Kyogokudo's patsy, isn't terribly sympatheti
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a goddamn masterpiece, plain and simple, I'd have given it 10 stars if it's allowed.

I read the Chinese translation years ago and it's still one of my most favorite Japanese's classical detective novels. The novel balances itself finely among different themes such as suspense, detective mystery, horror, traditional demon/ghost lore and romance. The ending is really twisted as well.
How could the world seem so different, merely due to an absence of light? Maybe it was frightening during the day, too; we were just too distracted by the sights to notice, too eager to pretend nothing was amiss.

My brother would love this book. The character Kyogokudo has such an interesting view on religion and the paranormal, almost logical. And boy could he talk.

I think this is one mystery I'll remember years from now, it was incredibly sad and made so much sense when all was revealed. It w
Sep 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read a bit of Kyogoku in the original, I definitely sympathize with the translators here. Some of what is wrong with this novel is not their fault: Kyogoku often relies on clunky, unconvincing exposition via dialogue. It's an obnoxious and condescending habit. Given the exhaustive attention he has paid "yokai" and related phenomena in non-fiction works (like the superb "Youkai no kotowari, youkai no ori"), I'm not sure why he feels his characters must pontificate the way they (inevitably ...more
Mason Jones
This is an odd one -- it's a mystery, yet it's not intended as a "mystery" novel in which you try to figure out who's behind the crimes. It's a supernatural book, yet there isn't as much supernatural stuff going on as you're led to believe. It's got quite a lot of history and philosophy, but it's not a polemic. It's a character study, but not really of the main character so much as his friends. I enjoyed it, and I'm curious to see what else Kyogoku has available in translation, if anything. But ...more
Sep 07, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was very excited to read this book, unfortunately the authors writing style and my personal preference in story telling did not mesh. He is very descriptive and his conversations are long and I found difficult to follow. His writing is very good, the translation easy and flowing. I however am more into story telling; not verbose writers who spend three to four pages describing the bark of a tree (not that this author did that, its just an outrageous example). I would recommend this to someone ...more
Olivia Newton
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished reading a book that was originally written in another language (read 10/4/2015)
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
there is nothing that is strange in this world, sekiguchi.
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found The Summer of the Ubume to be extremely intriguing. The pseudo-science used was practically flawless in that I was buying into theories that likely wouldn't be applicable in the real world. Now, the biggest complaints I have seen about this book are the exposition via dialog and I can see that as a valid argument, but to me they passed by with relatively little qualm and rather quickly too when there was no distraction from the text. I certainly couldn't put the book down when Kyogokudo ...more
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘The Summer of the Ubume’ is for the patient, it's ultimately an old fashioned ‘who done it’ involving philosophical discussions that include Buddhism, Japanese history and mythology. The story does progress slowly, but the discussions and personal interactions enhance the experience, as opposed to taking away from it. Anyone that has watch the Japanese versions of The Ring (Ringu) or The Grudge (Ju-On) and then the Americanized versions should understand the difference between subtle Japanese h ...more
Zhixuan Zhang
M. A. P.
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel-novella
One of my favourite reads in the recent years.

The premise of this mystery novel is as follows: The freelance writer Tatsumi Sekiguchi investigates rumors of a woman who is claimed to have been pregnant for twenty months after her husband disappeared from inside a locked room. With the help of his friend, the book store owner Akihiko Chūzenji (referred to by the name of his store, Kyōgōkudō, throughout the book), whose vast knowledge of Japanese folklore is the only way to get to make sense of th
Dyah Subagyo
Oct 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, mystery
It is a very fascinating read. This is the first time I read a crime book like this. Suffused with many elements - psychology, medicine, supernatural, it is a highly unusual book.
This book proves to be a page turner and is worth every rupiah and minutes I've spent.
Waiting for Vertigo to publish Natsuhiko Kyogoku's other works, namely the Kyogokudou series - frankly, this time I don't have any interest towards the Loups-Garous and his other works. If it doesn't have any desire to, well, maybe I'
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A horror/mystery novel all rolled into one, with an unconventional structure that interwove dialogue that seemed like a thesis on the nature of paranormal events versus psychology and neuroscience.

Set in 1951/52 in post-war Japan, the main characters are nearly all veterans of WWII, and at least two of them display symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Nearly all the characters have some kind of psychological issue following them, which makes it interesting when they make the foray into attempting
Michael Mc Donnell
It took me a good while to find an extant copy of the english translation of The Summer of the Ubume. Having just finished it I can say that it was worth it. It was quite a dense read but extremely interesting. I think the comparisons of the author to Neil Gaiman are misguided, Gaiman's work while excellent doest really have the same "weight". I'd say a closer comparison wouuld be Umberto Eco, particularlly Foucault's Pendulum. While there are some surface similarities to Gaiman's use and re-use ...more
May 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished this a while back. Wow, this is a pretty crazy read though - trying to describe it is a little tricky, partly because it packs so much in, and partly because discovering what it's "about" seems like part of the fun.

Basically a mystery story, but tied in with psycho-magical theses and a driving, intriguing narration. Intense, clever - but I can't say if it's *too* clever or not. All I can say is that it worked for me, and that I found myself tearing through the second half to uncover ev
Kit Fox
Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So what we have here is a very, very, very Japanese locked room mystery peppered with elements of traditional folklore and postmodern views towards the supernatural. And if you're all, "Hey, is this one of those Japanese books where people talk around a subject for pages and pages instead of directly addressing it?" the answer is, of course, "Yes." Which adds to the whole Japanese-ness of it all; definitely an acquired taste. To me, the most interesting thing about this book wasn't so much what ...more
Meg Larson
A long, excruciating philosophy lecture by a madman obsessed with his own voice is the dominant characteristic of this story. I'm actually quite proud of myself for having finished this book, because so many times I wanted to walk away from it and never return. I feel my willpower has been strengthened by this exercise. It sounds like it would be an interesting book about a foreign (from my own country) supernatural occurrence, but it's really a thinly-veiled Sherlock Holmes ripoff starring a gr ...more
A tough call. Large sections of the novel are given over to a sort of Socratic dialogue between the narrator and his friend, Kyogokudo, regarding the nature of perception, and the trustworthiness of our interpretation of the world around us. By the end, one sees why Kyogoku went to so so much trouble to plant these ideas in the reader's mind, but it doesn't really come off: I simply was not sufficiently convinced by Kyogokudo's lengthy arguments as to be able to suspend disbelief when confronted ...more
Montgomery Webster
Story: 5 / 10
Characters: 7
Setting: 3
Prose: 5

Probably a good book, if you are into mysteries. Sadly, I am not. Only read it because my house-mate had it lying around and I had been wanting to read more Japanese books. Nevertheless, the author introduced me to a lot of Japanese mythology. That was extremely interesting. Otherwise, the mystery itself was quite obscure. The final explanation was completely out of nowhere. I'll have to be more selective about which Japanese books I read in the future
Cheryl Xx
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting books that will get the readers to start thinking and get scared by the content just by a short sentence. The lines are able to capture the readers' mind keeping them reading page by page, before they know it they have already read finished and craving for more. The mystery gave me a tinge of excitement and waiting to know what is going to happen the next page perharps it would have already been the last page i would not even realised.
This book was very good. Sometimes the conversations were a little hard to follow, but somehow, I still kept on reading it. I love how almost everything they talked about had to do with the case in one way or another. Although I don't know much about Japanese folklore, this book was great. It was so suspenseful as well.

I hope that the publisher continues on translating the books in the Kyogokudo series. I would love to read them all.
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really powerful. Stayed up too late to finish. I'm not sure if it's misogynistic or not; it's definitely not judgmental, or if there's judgment it's not making it through the cultural translations. Some of the materialist talk-around gets tiresome, but -- reality as constructed, delusions and denial, women trapped by pregnancy or the lack of. Though mostly it's about the narrator, trapped by guilt and desire. I wonder if he narrates the others in the series.
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reality vs unreality, existentialism, neurology, folklore, possession, mental health... Just your average Japanese novel then. A great book but weighed down with so many ideas it was hard to digest - I kept putting it down to ponder the dialogue and concepts. Not an easy read - and completely sticks two fingers up to traditional structure 'rules' (but most Japanese novels do), but one that certainly leaves its mark.
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Goodreads Librari...: Should these be combined (Japanese) 3 175 Aug 04, 2012 09:14AM  
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Natsuhiko Kyogoku ( 京極 夏彦 Kyōgoku Natsuhiko, born March 26, 1963) is a Japanese mystery writer, who is a member of Ōsawa Office. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of Japan and the Honkaku Mystery Writers Club of Japan.

Three of his novels have been turned into feature films; Mōryō no Hako, which won the 1996 Mystery Writers of Japan Award, was also made into an anime TV series, as was Kosetsu
More about Natsuhiko Kyogoku...

Other Books in the Series

百鬼夜行 (9 books)
  • 魍魎の匣 [Mouryou no Hako]
  • 狂骨の夢 [Kyōkotsu no yume]
  • 鉄鼠の檻 [Tesso no ori]
  • 絡新婦の理 [Jorōgumo no kotowari]
  • 塗仏の宴 宴の支度 [Nuribotoke no utage: Utage no shitaku]
  • 塗仏の宴 宴の始末
  • 陰摩羅鬼の瑕 [Onmoraki no kizu]
  • 邪魅の雫 [Jami no shizuku]

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“Why do you think I'm reading this? But you know—though maybe you have different standards for what constitutes 'interesting' than I do—there's no such thing in this world as an uninteresting book. Any book is interesting; and not just when it's new. Even books you've already read can be quite fascinating. It just takes a little more effort to get there, that's all.” 10 likes
“There is nothing that is strange in this world, Sekiguchi” 9 likes
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