EAS 318: The Supernatural in Japanese Fiction, Film and Animation

Princeton University, Spring 2007
Department of East Asian Studies
Patrick Caddeau,
Director of Studies, Forbes College

Course meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 to 4:20 in Forbes Special Dining Room (SDR)


Assigned readings are to be completed before class. Attendance at weekly film screenings is required. Students will write weekly response papers, two short midterm essays, a final paper, and make in-class presentations. Response papers (250 words) are to be submitted via email each Monday by 10:00 pm except on weeks when a short essay is due. The two short essays should be approximately 1,000 words (4 pages) in length, and the final paper should be a minimum of 2,000 words (8 pages) in length. One-half letter grade will be deducted for each day written assignments are submitted beyond the specified date. Regular attendance, contribution to class discussion, viewing of screened films, and completion of assignments will factor into final grade. Calculation of the final grade will be based on the following distribution: Weekly response papers: 25%; Two midterm papers 25%; Class participation: 10%; In-class oral presentation: 10%; Final paper/project: 30%. Film screenings are normally scheduled for Thursday evenings at 8:00 pm. See syllabus for additional information and instructions concerning films.

The following books can be purchased at the Princeton University Bookstore:

The Fantastic in Modern Japanese Literature: Susan Napier
Kafka on the Shore:
Murakami Haruki
The Woman in the Dunes:
K˘b˘ Abe
Seven Japanese Tales
: Jun’ichir˘ Tanizaki

Additional reading assignments can be viewed by clicking the links found in the on-line syllabus. Readings not available on-line will be distributed in reading packets.

The following reference materials and suggested readings will be available on Reserve in the East Asian Library Circulation Room which is Room 310 in East Asian Library. (Frist Campus Center, 3rd floor) :

Bordwell, Film Art (PN1995 .B617 1990)
Caddeau, Appraising Genji: Literary Criticism and Cultural Anxiety in the Age of the Last Samurai (PL788.4.G43 C33 2006)
Keene, Dawn to the West (PL726.55 .K39 1984)
Napier, Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke (NC1766.J3 N37 2001)
Varley, Japanese Culture (DS821 .V36 2000)


Films will be available for students enrolled in the course to view through the course Blackboard site (under "course materials") and will also be placed on reserve for the course in the language resource center (011 East Pyne). While it is convenient to watch these films on-line I would like you to view at least some of them on the big screen in a theater, the format in which they were designed to seen.  With this in mind, I will schedule a number of screenings during the term in the Forbes College Small Dining Room. If you are unable to attend a scheduled film screening make arrangements to view the film on line or in the media center before the class meeting in which the film will be discussed. The call number for the film, when available, follows the title (in English then Japanese), director, year released, and length of film. The following is a tentative schedule of film screenings for the course.

2/8 Princess Mononoke (Mononoke hime; Miyazaki Hayao, 1997, 134m: DVD 3120)
2/15Spirited Away (Sen to chihiro, Miyazaki Hayao, 2001, 124m: DVD 3129)
2/22 Ugetsu (Ugetsu Monogatari; Mizoguchi Kenji,1953, 96 m,  VIDEO PN1997 .U44 1990 Z)
3/1 Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1951, 88m, DVD 1233)
3/8 Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka, Isao Takahata, 1988, 88m, PN1997. H67
3/14 Godzilla (Gojira, Honda Ishir˘, 1954, 108m, PN1997 G5743 1954)
3/29 Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo 1987, 124m, PN6790.J3 O8691)
4/5 Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 161m: PS 1917 . K68 1995 g)
4/11 Ring (Hideo Nakata 1998, 98m; Japan VHS)
4/12 Ring, the (Gore Verbinski, 2002, 115m,  PL861.U95 R569)
4/19Woman in the Dunes (Suna no onna; Teshigahara Hiroshi, 1969, 127m: DVD 1009)
4/26 Afterlife (Wadafuru raifu, Kore-edo Hirokazu, 1998, 118m: DVD 3626)
TBA Ghost in the Shell (K˘kaku kid˘tai;Mamoru Oshii, 1995, 82m: DVD 2288) & Picnic (Shunji Iwai, 1986, 68 m)


  • Week 1 Nature as Deity: Kami
    • 2/6 Course introduction: deconstructing the supernatural view: scenes from Hakkenden (1993) and Inuyasha (2000). Suggested reading: Aristotle's Physics (esp. book I on scientific knowledge)
    • 2/8 read: Shint˘ Legends from Kojiki (ca. 712) pay particular attention to pages 65-73 and come to class prepared to discuss them. In class we will also discuss “The Twilight Beauty” (Yűgao) chapter from The Tale of Genji (ca. 1010). Suggested reading: M. Marra Japanese Aesthetics: The Construction of Meaning (Philosophy East and West, Vol. 45, No. 3. (Jul., 1995), pp. 367-386 on Western epistemology and the construction of meaning in premodern Japan)
      and view scenes from the animated Tale of Genji (1987)
    • 2/8 film: Princess Mononoke
  • Week 2 Religious Magic and the Other
    • 2/13 Princess Mononoke response due by 10:00 pm 2/12
      read: Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism in Ch’en “Buddhism in
      China”; Wu Chengen, Monkey (Xiyouji, ca.1580)
      view: scenes from Blade Runner (1982), Tarzan (1999), Monkey (1978)
    • 2/15 read: “Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” (Taketori monogatari; ca. 900)
    • 9/15 film: Spirited Away
  • Week 3 Monsters and Modernity
    • 2/20 Spirited Away response paper due by 10:00 pm 2/19
      read: Napier, "Introduction" and "Woman Found" in The Fantastic in Modern Japanese Literature
    • 2/22 read: Astruc, “What is Mise-en-ScŔne?” (1959)
    • 2/22 screening: Ugetsu
  • Week 4 Possessing Spirits
    • 2/27 discuss Ugetsu responses
    • 3/1 read: Tanizaki, “A Portrait of Shunkin” (1933) in Seven Japanese Tales. Suggested reading: A. Chambers Postscript to `A Portrait of Shunkin': Shunkinsho Kogo (Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 35, No. 4. (Winter, 1980), pp. 457-460)
    • 3/1 film: Rashomon
  • Week 5 Monsters Past
    • 3/6 discuss: “A Portrait of Shunkin” and Rashomon
    • 3/8 read & discuss Tanizaki,  "The Bridge of Dreams" in Seven Japanese Tales;  
    • Enchi Fumiko, “The Flower Eating Crone” pp. 172-181; Pounds, Enchi Fumiko and the Hidden Energy of the Supernatural.”
    • 3/8 film: Grave of the Fireflies
  • 3/9 SHORT ESSAY I DUE 3:00 pm FRI
  • Week 6 Monsters Present


  • 3/17-25 SPRING RECESS
    • Week 7 Dystopian Futures
      • 3/27 read: Kafka on the Shore (2002), part I
      • 3/29 read: Kafka on the Shore , part II
      • 3/29 film : Akira
    • Week 8 Dangerous Women
      • 4/3 finish discussion of Kafka
      • 4/5 read: “The Holy Man of Mt. Koya” (K˘ya hijiri, 1900) in Japanese Gothic, discuss Akira
      • 4/5 film: Kwaidan

    • Week 9 Monsters in Hiding
      • 4/10 read: “The Tattooer” (Shisei, 1910) in Seven Japanese Tales and discuss Kwaidan
      • 4/12 read: Woman in the Dunes (1962), part I (pp. 1-71) and selections from P. Berger's The Sacred Canopy on nomos and alienation
      • 4/12 film: Woman in the Dunes
    • Week 10 The Insane
      • 4/17 discuss film Woman in the Dunes
      • 4/19 read: Woman in the Dunes (1962), part II and Mellen, “Shohei Imamura: Woman as Survivor” (1975)
      • 4/19 film: Ring (Japanese version)
      • 4/20 SHORT ESSAY II DUE by 3:00 pm FRI


    • Week 11 Dangerous Men
      • 4/24 read: in class comparison and analysis of Ring (Japanese, Korean and US versions)
      • 4/26 read: “One Arm” (Kataude, 1963)
      • 4/26 read: film: Afterlife
    • Week 12 Haunting Dreams and Memories
      • 5/1  group presentations on Ballad of Narayama and Afterlife in class
      • 5/2 film: Picnic ***TUES screening***
      • 5/3 group presentations on Picnic in class


    • Reading Period 5/7-15; Examination Period 5/16-26
    • Final Paper due 5/16