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Retro Horror Radio: Live Ghost Story Readings

November 29, 2019

Stories and sounds of otherworldly Japan

Close your eyes and immerse yourself in the strange world of spooks, folklore and old-school horror with these readings of uncanny Japanese tales. The program features works from two of Japan’s biggest names in retro horror writing: Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) and Edogawa Rampo (1894-1965). With acoustic music and sound accompaniment, this performance fuses the style of a live radio play with the spirit of folklore and stories made for sharing. Grab a drink, grab a beanbag and enjoy some slow-burn spinetingles.

Narration: Arisa Yura
Sound: Terumi Narushima

About Lafcadio Hearn (小泉八雲; 1850 – 1904)

Lafcadio Hearn is a Greek-Irish writer who settled in Japan in 1890 at the age of forty.  He went on to document many examples of folklore, legends and stories about the supernatural that circulated in Japanese culture at the time. Hearn became naturalised as a Japanese in 1896 and remained in Japan for the rest of his life, adopting a Japanese name (Koizumi Yakumo). His work is widely recognised for capturing the spirit of Japan as it teetered on the cusp of Meiji-era modernisation.

About Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩; 1894 – 1965)

Edogawa Rampo was one of Japan’s earliest mystery writers. Rampo was influenced by the gothic fiction of Edgar Allen Poe, and the pen name ‘Edogawa Rampo’ is a play on the Japanese transliteration of Poe’s name.  Rampo’s works range from standard detective-led murder mysteries through to dark psychological thrillers characterised by vivid and often shocking imagery.

Arisa Yura is an actor, voice-over artist, writer, director and taiko drummer working extensively across theatre, film and television in Australia, Canada, USA and Japan. She is also an ensemble artist with Clockfire Theatre Company. Arisa performed in the program for the Art gallery of NSW’s 2016 exhibition, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, and has performed at various arts festivals around Australia with the show, Yasukichi Murakami: Through A Distant Lens by Mayu Kanamori. Arisa recently wrote and performed her first play, Confessions of A Custard Melon Pan, at Sydney Fringe Festival in September 2019, where she was nominated for two Sydney Fringe Awards: Best Theatre and NIDA Standout Actor. More recently, Arisa has read two short stories by Julie Koh, The Patternmaker (Sydney Noir) and Workers of All Lands Unite, for an OzGothic radio play produced by ABC Radio National. She is currently co-directing and performing in Night Parade of One Hundred Goblins as part of the Art Gallery of NSW’s Japan Supernatural exhibition, co-presented by Clockfire Theatre Company and Art Gallery of NSW for Sydney Festival 2020.

(Image courtesy of Mayu Kanamori)

Terumi Narushima is a composer, performer and sound designer whose work has been featured at festivals in Australia and overseas, as well as on radio and television. She writes acoustic and electronic music with a focus on microtonal tuning, and is a core member of Clocks and Clouds, an ensemble featuring retuned instruments built by fellow composer-performer Kraig Grady. Terumi plays mainly keyboard instruments and has studied koto with Satsuki Odamura. She has also worked as a musician and sound designer for various film, theatre and dance collaborations. In addition, Terumi is a senior lecturer in music at the University of Wollongong, where her current research explores the development of microtonal flutes using 3D printing. Terumi serves on the Board of Directors for Wollongong Conservatorium of Music.

(Image courtesy of Mayu Kanamori)


From 6:15pm:

‘Diplomacy’ by Lafcadio Hearn
A condemned man swears to avenge his death.

‘The Human Chair’ by Edogawa Rampo
A woman receives a strange confession.

From 7:30pm:

‘Mujina (むじな)’ by Lafcadio Hearn (in Japanese)
In the dark of night, things are not always as they seem.

‘Earless Hoichi (耳なし芳一)’ by Lafcadio Hearn (in Japanese)
A priest hatches a plan to save a blind man from evil spirits.

About Horror Storytelling in Japan

The Japanese tradition of horror storytelling dates back several centuries to the Edo period, when sharing frightening stories among friends emerged as a popular pastime. Known as ‘hyakumonogatari kaidan-kai‘ (lit., ‘gathering for 100 strange tales’), this involved group members taking turns to tell stories in a candle-lit room, extinguishing one candle as each story ended to create a progressively darker, spookier environment. The game would take place in summer, when the “chills” brought welcome relief on hot nights.

This event is part of the HORROR MANGA JAPAN event program and is related to the exhibition, RETRO HORROR: Supernatural and the Occult in Postwar Japanese Manga, on at The Japan Foundation, Sydney from October 18, 2019 to January 24, 2020.

An offshoot of this event, featuring different stories, will be held at Art After Hours at the Art Gallery of NSW on November 27, co-produced by The Japan Foundation, Sydney.

English-language stories were kindly provided by Tuttle and NewSouth Books.

Presented by The Japan Foundation, Sydney.
(Producer: Elicia O’Reilly)



November 29, 2019 (Friday)
6:15pm (English) &
7:30pm (日本語/Japanese)
Approx. 1 hour per session
Doors open 6pm

Free; no RSVP required.
Capacity limited.

Come for the English, stay for the Japanese!

The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008


(02) 8239 0055

Top image: ‘Yuki Onna’ by Hideshi Hino.
Features in the exhibition, RETRO HORROR: Supernatural and the Occult in Postwar Japanese Manga.

Presented by

Event partners

Event sponsors


Dec 5, 2019

Rampo Noir
(MA 15+)

Film Screening
The Japan Foundation, Sydney

Oct 18 – 24, 2019

Horror Manga Japan

Event Program
The Japan Foundation, Sydney


Nov 27, 2019

Art After Hours:
Retro Horror Radio

(Note: content differs from JF program on Nov 29)

Art Gallery of NSW

Nov 2, 2019 – Mar 8, 2020


Art Gallery of NSW

Oct 2 – 23, 2019

Grief and Vengeance:
Otherworldly Tales

JFF Classics Film Screenings
Art Gallery of NSW

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