In Light of Shadows: More Gothic Tales by Izumi Kyoka
192pp. October 2004
In Light of Shadows: More Gothic Tales by Izumi Kyoka
Author: Izumi Kyoka; Translator: Inouye, Charles Shiro;
Winner of the Japan-U.S. Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature

In Light of Shadows is the long-awaited second volume of short fiction by the Meiji-Taishô writer Izumi Kyôka. It includes the famous novella Uta andon (A story by lantern light), the bizarre, antipsychological story "Mayu kakushi no rei" (A quiet obsession), and Kyôka’s hauntingly erotic final work, "Rukôshinsô" (The heartvine), as well as critical discussions of each of these three tales. Translator Charles Inouye places Kyôka’s "literature of shadows" (kage no bungaku) within a worldwide gothic tradition even as he refines its Japanese context. Underscoring Kyôka’s relevance for a contemporary international audience, Inouye adjusts Tanizaki Jun’ichirô’s evaluation of Kyôka as the most Japanese of authors by demonstrating how the writer’s paradigm of the suffering heroine can be linked to his exposure to Christianity, to a beautiful American woman, and to the aesthetic of blood sacrifice.

In Light of Shadows masterfully conveys the magical allusiveness and elliptical style of this extraordinary writer, who Mishima Yukio called "the only genius of modern Japanese letters."


"The world of Izumi Kyôka is beautiful but elusive, a world of shadows. As one reads his stories, light blends with the shadows in unforgettable patterns. Kyôka’s evocative language is difficult to translate, but Charles Shirô Inouye’s translation, unerringly surmounting the difficulties, carries the reader into a world like no other." —Donald Keene, emeritus professor, Columbia University

"In the shadowy light of these three superb tales, Izumi Kyôka dissolves the boundaries between past and present, fantasy and reality, the vividly observed and the unforgettably remembered. The evocative translations and accompanying essay reveal his unique place among the masters of modern Japanese fiction. Perhaps ‘A Song by Lantern Light’ is Kyôka’s masterpiece, but the two shorter stories also convey the pleasures of his magical prose and ability to enchant." —Howard Hibbett, emeritus professor of Japanese literature, Harvard University

"Inouye is the finest of mediums through which to receive [Kyôka’s] message. . . . He has given us the most sensitive translations. . . . In his version these gothic tales speak their dubious truths with beauty, longing, and a winningly impossible kind of certitude." —Donald Richie, Japan Times, January 23, 2005

Author: Izumi Kyoka; Translator: Inouye, Charles Shiro;
Charles Shirô Inouye is professor of Japanese and former dean of the Colleges for Undergraduate Education at Tufts University.
Read an excerpt (PDF).
Translator’s Preface


A Literature of Shadows

A Song by Lantern Light

A Quiet Obsession

The Heartvine