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Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,460 ratings  ·  424 reviews
Collected in this chilling volume are some of the famous Japanese mystery writer Edogawa Rampo's best stories—bizarre and blood-curdling expeditions into the fantastic, the perverse, and the strange, in a marvelous homage to Rampo's literary 'mentor', Edgar Allan Poe. ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published December 15th 1989 by Tuttle Publishing (first published 1956)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Bill Kerwin

Edogowa Rampo--just say his pen name quickly three times to discover how much he loved Edgar Allen Poe--is considered the first and foremost writer of Japanese mystery fiction. He is also much more.

His stories, structured as popular "entertainments," are designed to convey all the pleasures of genre, and yet they possess an elegance and intellectual complexity greater than mere popular works. In this Rampo resembles Borges, and yet the two writers are very different. Borges is more philosophica
The Artisan Geek
This was a great collection in my opinion and it now holds two of my favourite horror stories (The Human Chair and The Red Chamber). I do have note that the representation of disability in here was disheartening, but not surprising seeing the history of how disability has been portrayed in literature. Definitely something I would like to talk more about in the future. Either way I look forward to discussing this book during the Fortnight Frights readathon :)

Picked up this book, be
I’m glad I finally read this collection, since, as with Edgar Allen Poe for American literature readers, only moreso, these tales are universally familiar to Japanese readers. The tales themselves? Fine, but none of the stories were special or memorable. All were well-written and reminiscent of Algernon Blackwell in style.
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: armiel
Recommended to Mariel by: ramlie
The perfect murder. Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination, or, as it should have been called, How to do the bloody deed and get away with it without facing criminal charges or the accusing finger of society (the bird, probably). No civil suits, no karmic payback! No coming back as a roach in the next life, that's right. It's essentially the same perfect murder in a lot of the stories. The getting away with it the appeal rather than the murder (wouldn't anything else work just as well?). It's l ...more
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Having just finished off The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe, I wasn't quite ready to fully return to the world of novels. Luckily this book was recommended for this month's book club read and very perfectly the author's name is a pseudonym, a play on Edgar Allan Poe. Say it out loud: Edogawa Rampo. Get it?

These stories are certainly not as gruesome as some of Poe's, and they're certainly not as long as some of Poe's either. But these are good too, in their own right. If nothing else, they're
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Edogawa Rampo is the pen name of Taro Hirai, who is widely regarded as the father of Japanese mystery. It seems he was greatly inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, hence the name "Edogawa Rampo". In this collection of short stories, he takes us into the world of the strange and the macabre.

Some of the stories are more riveting than others, but the straightforward storytelling makes them all engaging throughout. His stories maintain more a sense of mystery and the bizarre, compared to Poe's which instill
Mar 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
I found this at an Oxfam bookshop in Manchester, and it made my day. Best find of 2011! And this isn't the Rampo book I have already ordered through my local bookshop (and has yet to arrive). How lucky is that?

The Human Chair: My favourite. It's all gone a bit "Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected".

The Psychological Test: How to catch a criminal with word-association games.

The Caterpillar: Disturbing.

The Cliff: Not amazing.

The Hell of Mirrors: Nuts. I liked this line: "having now reached the age
Merl Fluin

DAY 31: The Hell Of Mirrors
I think this may be the greatest of all Rampo's stories: like the mirrors it describes, it creates a horrifying image of the creation of horrifying images.

*The rules:
– Read one short story a day, every day for six weeks
– Read no more than one story by the same author within any 14-day period
– Deliberately include authors I wouldn't usually read
– Review each story in one sentence or less

Any fresh reading suggestions/recommendations will be gr
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
So dark and strange, yet so delicious.

This is the second Ranpo I’ve read following The Early Cases of Akechi Kogoro, but whereas that collection is more of a conventional detective story, this one feels more versatile and accentuates Ranpo’s storytelling strengths better.

The recurring theme of the nine stories in this book are the narrative style, in which a character recounts a strange story to another character (or to the readers), before a morbid twist is revealed in the end of these storie
Oct 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
1. The Human Chair
2. The Psychological Test
3. The Caterpillar
4. The Cliff
5. The Hell of Mirrors
6. The Twins
7. The Red Chamber
8. Two Crippled Men
9. The Traveler with the Pasted Rag Picture

Most of these are pretty creepy and strange. And mesmerizing! Edogawa Rampo truly is the master of grotesque. I've had infinite inexplicable love for "The Human Chair" since I first read it a few years ago and the rest of these stories didn't let me down either. I'd say stories 1-4 and 7 were my favorites (I act
DeAnna Knippling
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Short stories set in Japan, the same type of thing as Edgar Allen Poe's.

These dark and twisted tales aren't as well known as they should be. Great stuff.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it liked it
The Japanese writer Hirai Taro (1894-1965) took the nom de plume Edogawa Rampo as a sign of his reverence for the work of Edgar Allan Poe, and is regarded as the first and greatest Japanese writer of mystery stories. This collection of nine of his stories, published in 1956, represents the first appearance of his work in English translation. Its title reflects, of course, the debt the author felt he owed to Poe.

Only one of the stories is a mystery in the "detective story" sense, "The Psychologic
Oct 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Edogawa Rampo (say the name out loud) is one of the great literary figures in 1920's Japan. His short stories are a combination of erotica mixed with horror. Within Japan he is probably one of the most well-known writers - and rightfully so, because's he fanastic.

If you like gothic drug induced sexy stories - then this is for you. A must for those Opium nightmare nights!
Ankit Agrawal
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book deserves 5 points just for the first story and from there impact is lost with each story.
I am disappointed in this book. The first story was great so I'm rating the book three stars rather than two: a man sewed himself into an upholstered chair and enjoyed when ladies sat on him. Hahaha. Very creepy. But the rest of the stories were ho-hum to my modern, Western taste.

The author is considered the dean of Japanese mystery writers. Ellery Queen wrote, "If you say the name Edogawa Rampo aloud, and keep repeating it, the name will seem to grow more and more familiar; and it should, becau
Lee Foust
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent narrative craftsmanship shines forth in these tales. Quite enjoyable from the first story to the last in a crystalline manner. True to his American namesake, Edgar Allan Poe, a couple of these tales of Rampo's feature those weird moments of horrific imagery that makes Poe's tales so unique--even when there is little in the way of plot to recommend them--and in other tales, the careful step-by-step plotting of the mystery story is at work, revealing the narrative like a gallery worker s ...more
I was expecting a more suspense and mysterious stories, but it was just okay. Fairly thrilled, fairly presented. I fancy the idea especially The Human Chair (I probably would think about the cabinet-maker every time I see a leather-covered armchair anywhere now, that was seriously spooky!), The Psychological Test and The Twins.

Not that much atmospheric, but the crime plotting stuff was quite fascinating.

Worth a read, somehow.
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
You will never look at an armchair the same way again.
Imagine becoming so famous in writing mysteries that you earn an award in your name that, till this day, is seen as a prestigious award to win for the mystery/thriller genre.
Edogawa Ranpo was this man. He was influenced by infamous writers Edgar Allen Poe, Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes and managed to create new stories that were infused in Japanese culture. Not all these stories are a 'who done i?' story. Most are from the perspective of the perpetrator and some are thrillers that leave
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird, mystery
These nine stories are not horror but often not-quite-not-quite horror, and sometimes are something like mystery tales but with a twist of examining the psychological motivation behind the mystery more than anything like the crime. This combined with an excellent translation by James B. Harris imbues Ranpo's collection with an immediate sense of the classic and a helpful dose of the lurid and pulp. Much like the obvious influence of Edgar Allan Poe, Ranpo [note: Edogawa Ranpo is a play on E.A. P ...more
Benjamin Thomas
I was fortunate to be able to visit Japan last summer and, of course, bought several books to bring home with me as souvenirs. This one caught my eye in a little shop in Kyoto so I thought I would take a chance on it. There are nine stories in this volume and taken together represent a nice sampling of the author’s work. The author’s real name is Hirai Taro (1894 – 1965) but his chosen pseudonym is of interest. Try saying “Edogawa Ranpo” three times fast and you might find a resemblance to a Jap ...more
Amy Gentry
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Where has "The Human Chair" been all my life? I can't believe it took me this long to read the 20th-century Japanese weird-fiction writer Rampo. This short selection of stories was not only the first Rampo to be translated into English, but, according to the translator's preface from 1956, the first collection of any Japanese mystery stories to be translated into English. Some of the stories are truly disturbing, others silly; all of them are amazing in one way or another. For lovers of ETA Hoff ...more
Favorite stories; The Human Chair, The Caterpillar, The Hell of Mirrors.

Loved The Caterpillar, a war veteran is so disfigured and maimed that he resembles a caterpillar. I read that it was banned in nationalistic war mongering Japan, wonder why. It was also recently made into a movie.
Riju Ganguly
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Edogawa Rampo (whose actual name was Hirai Taro) had written these longish stories long-long ago, amidst settings that are supposedly too far away from post-modern readers like us. But such is the brilliance of the stories, perfectly captured and translated into English by James B. Harris, that they appear absolutely modern.
How did that happen?
It happened because like the very best of writers Rampo had built his tales using one ingredient that never, NEVER changes: the human psyche!
This book con
Kyat Meow Dragon rawr
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I always find it hard to rate short story collections as you'd really want to rate all the stories individually so more of a 3.75 average. It's defo worth a read if you like Edgar Allen Poe (try to say Rampos name fast and it does sound similar)
The one which really weirded me out was the man with the chair...
That man..
An astounding compilation, and I was pleased to find that every single story in the collection is at some level of greatness - not just my old favorites The Human Chair and The Caterpillar.
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Edogawa Rampo was a Japanese writer of mystery and other genre fiction. His literary hero was Edgar Allan Poe, and that was a major reason for me in getting this book for my Kindle.

Most of the stories in this book are 'naturalistic'. For me, a naturalistic story of horror or suspense, in order to be effective, has to have an unpredictable plot.

Thus these stories with a unpredictable plot I found excellent:

"The Human Chair" A woman who is a popular writer of mysteries receives a disturbing letter
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
Presented in short stories, these tales did not strive for technical complication in plots, but guided the reader through the entwining lane ways in the darker part of human psyche. There is a lot to miss about classic Japanese mystery writings in early 1900s, and this is an excellent introduction to Rampo's universe.

Many elements in this book are of typical fascination in this genre: mirrors, wells, twins, sleepwalking, obsessions… Not all the stories are about killing, and not all the killing
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, e-books, horror
Someone had reccomended this to me and I approached it with hesitation because. lot of times people recommend books and they turn out to be awful. I'm glad I read this though and found that once I started it, I simply couldn't stop. it's a great introduction to a writer few have heard of, but should read. Rampo had a gift for story telling and picking a genre for this is difficult.

Each story blends seamlessly into the next plunging you into a world that few writers delve into. It's a collectio
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Hirai Tarō (平井 太郎), better known by the pseudonym Rampo Edogawa ( 江戸川 乱歩), sometimes romanized as "Ranpo Edogawa", was a Japanese author and critic who played a major role in the development of Japanese mystery fiction. ...more

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