The River Imp and the Stinky Jewel and Other Tales: Monster Comics from EDO Japan (Paperback)

The River Imp and the Stinky Jewel and Other Tales: Monster Comics from EDO Japan By Adam Kabat (Translator) Cover Image
By Adam Kabat (Translator)


In Edo-period Japan, readers relished works known as kibyōshi that combined text and illustration on the same page, much like comic books and manga. Monsters often took center stage in these stories. This book presents a selection of Edo monster comics in English for the first time, introducing readers to a captivating, humorous, and eye-opening genre of popular fiction.

The River Imp and the Stinky Jewel and Other Tales collects five kibyōshi published between 1778 and 1807, chosen for both entertainment value and stylistic variety. Their authors reinvent traditional Japanese monsters as contemporary characters who mirror the foibles of the human world. They tell stories such as: The lover of the long-necked rokuro-kubi makes a ridiculous attempt to rescue her from her human captor. A mischievous river creature steals a jewel lodged deep inside a boy's buttocks, setting off a curious chain of events involving a historical samurai and a real-life "fart man." A demon girl from hell is sent to the world of the living in order to destroy a sacred Buddhist statue--but things don't go quite as she plans.

Exploring the grotesque, comic, bumbling, salacious, and charming world of these creatures, the stories also provide a glimpse into the society and culture of Edo-period Japan through the monsters' distorted lens. The kibyōshi are reproduced in their entirety, conveying the feel of the original comics and allowing readers to experience the full visual impact of the monsters.

About the Author

Adam Kabat is professor emeritus of Japanese literature at Musashi University. He is the author of numerous books in Japanese on monsters in kibyōshi.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780231209731
ISBN-10: 0231209738
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication Date: June 20th, 2023
Pages: 464
Language: English