14 Japanese Horror Novels For Fans Of Gore And Ghosts

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Last year sometime I learned that Japanese horror was a whole thing. I don’t think that I thought it didn’t exist, I mean, I know Japanese horror movies are big, I just never really thought about the genre in book form.

Well, now I know and it’s a genre I want to read a lot of, along with Japanese crime novels. I just generally want to read more horror though.

I signed up for the Night Worms monthly horror box which is a good start and this list will probably be what I try to read next. Horror is a genre I want to love but has been very hit or miss (mostly miss) for me.

I just hope you and I both can find a Japanese horror novel in here that you want to read (if you do, let me know how it is!) and I would love any suggestions on others to check out (both Japanese horror or other horror.)

  • If you want to listen to some of these, consider trying Audible! You can get your first month free (one free book) plus tons of others they have for free.  Get that Audible deal here.
  • If you’re on more of a budget, try Scribd!  You can get your first month free there. You can read books and listen to audiobooks. It is unlimited (especially the reading) but if you listen to tons of new audiobooks you may be restricted after a few. I don’t listen to enough to confirm this, but I do use Scribd myself and like it a lot. Sign up for Scribd here!
  • Shop my collection of bookish goodies on Etsy! These aren’t my shop items, but other shops I’ve curated into a book-themed collection. Shop my Etsy bookish goodies here!
  • If you want to read more on your Kindle but don’t want to buy books, Kindle Unlimited is a wonderful option. It’s $9.99 a month but if you read a lot and like to read more than just new releases, it could be worth it. Get Kindle Unlimited here!
  • Get $5 off of $25 from BookOutlet! This is a great place to find new books for pretty cheap. They also have sales quite a bit, so keep an eye out for those. I tend to check here for books I want if they’re more expensive other places. They don’t have everything but they do have a lot. Shop BookOutlet here!
  • Thrift Books has become my go-to when I’m looking for a book and want it cheap. It’s great if you like buying used books. With this you can get a free book after spending $30!
  • Shop my book lists here! You can find every book list I have on Bookshop.org (except my monthly round-ups) and I add everything I can but they occasionally won’t have some. I do occasionally add extras though. If any lists are empty, they’ll be filled in shortly! Shop my bookshop.org book lists here.
  • Shopping internationally? Check out Book Depository!

In the Miso Soup

Frank has hired Kenji to take him on a tour of Tokyo’s nightlife just before the New Year. Frank is acting so strangely that Kenji expects he may have some murderous desires. Kenji isn’t innocent either but he unwillingly descends into evil with Frank and only his sixteen-year-old girlfriend can save him.

This one is more extreme horror but it’s one I want to read.


If you’ve watched the movie The Ring, then you’ll definitely want to read this one. I know I do.

Unless you perform an unspecified act, you will die seven days after watching this videotape like the four teens who died of heart failure one after another.

Asakawa is a journalist who is intrigued by his niece’s death. His investigation brings him from Tokyo to rural Japan as he tries to solve the mystery of the tape before it’s too late.

I need to read this one. I have a pair of earrings of the girl from The Ring climbing out of a TV and I love it.

Summer of the Ubume

Akihiko “Kyogokudo” Chuzenji is an exorcist who doesn’t believe in ghosts. To help his clients come to terms with their problems, he uses fake ghosts, which he then exorcises. They believe he’s banished the ghosts and they’ve been cured.

First, he must unravel the mystery of the woman who has been pregnant for 20 months and then find her husband who disappeared two months into the pregnancy.

The Girl from the Well

Okiku is lonely after wandering the world for centuries, freeing the spirits of the murdered. A victim herself, she now takes the lives of killers with a vengeance, though she still has no peace.

Then she meets Tark, feared by his neighbors, but Okiku knows he is no monster. He just needs to be freed from the malevolence that clings to him, but if the demon dies, so does the host.

Battle Royale

Think Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies in the Japanese Splatterpunk book. As part of a ruthless authoritarian program, a class of junior high students is taken to a deserted island, left with weapons, and forced to kill until only one is left standing.

I think this is like, the OG Hunger Games and it’s definitely one I want to read.


In the spring of 1998Kochi transferred to Tomiyama North Middle School where he develops a sense of unease. He notices everyone around him seems frightened and like they’re walking on eggshells.

A chain of horrific deaths unfolds around him and he finds out he was put in cursed class 3 where the headcount is always one more than expected. The class is haunted by a vengeful spirit and he decides to get to the bottom of the curse.

The Graveyard Apartment

This young married couple has a dark secret as they move into a new apartment next to a graveyard. Strange things start happening and people move out one by one until the new family is left alone with something lurking in the basement.

I can’t wait to read this one!


This is the story of a young mother working in the suburbs of Tokyo placing boxed lunches who strangles her abusive husband and looks for help from a coworker to dispose of the body.

Masako soon realizes this killing is just the beginning of a dangerous foray into the violent underbelly of Japan.

This is a Japanese horror novel I’ve seen quite a few times and I just added it to my TBR now.

Parasite Eve

Dr. Nagashima lost his wife in a car accident, leaving him overwhelmed and obsess with reincarnating her. Her donated kidney goes to a young girl with a debilitating disorder but the doctor keeps a small sample of her liver in his office. The cells mutate rapidly and it becomes a consciousness determined to become the new dominant species on Earth.

The Crimson Labyrinth

A former math major wakes up one day wondering if he’s ended up on the red planet. The you woman who says her name is Ai has no idea of where they are either. Their only instructions are beamed to a portable device with no reset button and when they make the wrong move, it’s really game over.

Real World

Four teenage girls are just getting by in the Tokyo suburbs. Toshi discovers her neighbor has been brutally murdered and the girls suspect the killer is the neighbors son. He flees with Toshi’s bike and cell phone and soon they’re caught up in the dangers within them as well as in the world around them.

I would like to read this one eventually.


Yuriko and her unnamed sister exist at opposite ends of the prestigious Q High School for Girls in Tokyo, with Kauze Sato trying to fit in among them. Years later Yuriko and Kauze became prostitutes and were killed. Their stories are woven together within the conventions and restrictions of Japanese society.

This one sounds really interesting and I’ve added it to my TBR.

Now You’re One of Us

All families have their own rituals and secrets which may alarm guests, but it’s a whole other matter if you’re marrying into the family.

I would love to read this one, too!


Harada has to set up in his home office overlooking Tokyo’s busy Route 8. Nostalgic for his youth, he heads to Asakusa one night where he meets a man who looks exactly like his long-dead father.

He is thrust into a realty where his parents seem to be alive, at the age they were when they died years ago. They may be apparitions and it’s taking a toll on his health but he takes solace in seeing them. He has a tentative relationship with is neighbor Kei who now has to save him from the ghosts of his past.

Have you read any of these? Which ones? Any other Japanese horror novels I should check out?

Author: Megan Johnson

I'm Megan, a cheesehead at heart currently residing in the Sunshine State. You can probably find me reading, watching Forensic Files, or both.

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