In preparation for New York Anime Fest this weekend, I am here posting the bibliography for "Dead Like Us: Shinigami, Death and Japanese Culture." I get asked for this after every con, and this time I am jumping the gun.
The following books are articles were all used in creating the panel, gathering ideas behind Japanese sacred culture, folklore, mythology and interpretations.
-Harold Coward- “Life After Death In World Religions.” A class text I read for "Religious Meanings of Death" in undergrad, it gives an overview of death in Asian culture.
-Michael Dean Foster- “Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai.” Media representation of monsters and the fascination behind horror culture in Japanese media.
-Lafcadio Hearn- “Kwaidan: Japanese Ghost Stories." Despite being over a century old, this text still contains some early versions of both popular ghost stories and some initial study into Japanese insect mythology.
-Michiko Iwasaka- “Ghosts and the Japanese.” The best book, hands down, I have found on the subject of ghosts and Japanese culture. Sheds light on both historical AND popular concepts regarding superstition and ghistly encounters.
-Scott Littleton- “Shinto.” A short, concise and very well explained book on the Japanese experience of Shinto, both past and present.
-Susan Orpett Long- “Negotiating the Good Death.” In Ethnology 40/4. Modern Japanese thoughts regarding the "correct" way to die, and how it can impact the lives of the bereaved.
-James McClenon- “Near Death Folklore in Medieval China and Japan.” In Asian Folklore Studies 50/2. A look into cultural syncretism and its impact, particularly in regards to Buddhist theology. Parallels some similar events taking place in Europe at the time.
-Nanzan Institute for Religion in Japan- “The Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions.” An excellent overview on the Japanese religious experience. Scholarly, but still very accessible.
-Robert J Smith- “Ancestor Worship in Contemporary Japan.” Excellent explanations on death rites, becoming part of the family kami, and the duties of the family in ensuring proper transition to ancestor.
-Royall Tyler- “Japanese Tales.” A thick collection of Japanese folk tales, covering just about every aspect of folk mythology. Easy to read, and very engrossing.