Yep, that sounds about right!
I regret having been spoiled by Wikipedia many months ago - I still remembered it very clearly. Still, I really wanted to read the original, and it was worth it. The respectful language and the abundant kanji in usually kana-only words made for a slow start, but I soon got used to them, and the rest was smooth sailing.
Kudos to Edogawa Ranpo for writing a story that makes your skin crawl while containing none of the usual horror elements. I don’t know about you, but I did look at my own furniture rather suspiciously while reading it.
I was initially a tiny bit disappointed that it was just a story after all. But then I thought, how did this aspiring writer know about the chair in the author’s study? Or about the study itself for that matter? Or about how they bought the chair? I’m now convinced the story was true after all. And just maybe, because she didn’t give a signal that she’d like to meet him (as if!), he sent the second letter to diffuse the situation…
That’s so cool! I love how committed he was. I also wondered if he himself had tried to draw attention to himself by sending such a provocative manuscript, but according to the Wikipedia article, that’s not how it came to be.
I wondered about this too! I also thought it was a bit strange that the author never gave their name in the second letter, despite asking for feedback… Maybe a sign it was written in haste as damage control, like you suggested! I could be reading too far in though.
Unrelated note but when the second letter came in, my first thought was “Oh no, there’s someone inside the bed too” XD
And that’s how we get from horror to slapstick comedy…
Finished as well!
Was planning on reading all of it at night for the full creepiness effect, but then was unfortunately too tired and fell asleep Read the rest today during the day.
I think I expected this to be scarier, I’d classify this more as… creepily uncomfortable?
I liked it though. Very atmospheric.
I’ve never read anything not-modern before, the 朗読 was definitely really helpful here in regards to all those odd spellings.
… had the same thought for a second Can you even send a letter that fast, though? No idea.
But I mean, she said there’d probably be traces of him having been in the chair but then we never ended up seeing her go check
Google says the Junji Ito version has a different ending? I’m kinda curious…
@omk3 thanks for coming up with this idea!
though after finishing the story, I’m not sure if I should thank you now
The writing style is just… so creepy. The way he describes people’s bodies and how they are imprinting against his own, it makes you almost feel it , and he (the writer) has a really good knack for choosing just the right word/expression to make you feel uneasy.
The hotel part was creepy, with him enjoying everyone sitting on him, but then when he gets sold off to a private home, the creepiness intensifies to maximum creepy. How he falls in love with Yoshiko and how he starts to look after her from inside his weird chair cubbyhole is very unsettling.
Very unique approach for horror!
The Junji Ito version is a bit of a re-imagining, it’s more based on the concept of the human chair rather than a full re-telling of the story in manga format, the story continues from the ending of the original in a different (and unsettling!) way.
Would very much recommend though!
I was not aware of this
The fact that it was just a psych-out, and in fact the exact same trick the guy played on the author is being played on us, the reader, as well, is what makes me love it so much.
I really love the frame story for reasons along those lines! The mixed emotions from relief (and slight disappointment) at first, then doubt, and then also realization that, best-case scenario, the letter still represents a pretty cruel invasion of privacy (since he must have watched her and wanted to force a reaction out of her, just not in the specific bizarre ways initially presented)…
I think without the frame the impulse after reading would be to feel “ok that was creepy but you can’t really build yourself into a chair and have people not notice so it’s a bit silly but fun” but that gets redirected artfully into having the reader mirror the thought process she’d be in after the second letter. We’ve both got the same out to consider it a silly story if we want to take it… but how much less creepy does it really make the first letter? and… what if?
Soo, I started reading it today and plan on finishing it tomorrow. The writing style is interesting, but the age of the text really shows. With some sentences, I really have problems following the thread of thought. Long sentences + obscure unknown vocab for me + old grammar usage really kills my reading flow…
I mean does the man actually use periods?
There is a period after three lines already! You shouldn’t complain too much here
Seems like a hard read for me as well, definitely not used to literature, let alone old . It’s crazy how much language changes from one medium to another, suddenly it’s all extremely long sentences .
I’m taking this one easy, team c:
I feel like a lot of keigo feels like really long sentences. I’m just glad it’s easier to see what he’s saying with kanji than listen to keigo lol
Whoo I did it, challenge complete! The 朗読 was a lifesaver, I’m convinced I would’ve dropped out like a paragraph in otherwise Definitely some 敬語 and old vocabulary practice.
It was definitely an interesting read! Certainly unsettling vibes; all of the description of him being in the chair… oh man. Amazingly I didn’t see the actual plot coming at all? I figured for a while that he was gonna make a chair out of someone else, then I thought he was gonna make a chair out himself (in a more permanent way), and then I figured out what was actually going on haha. Wild But yeah I’m also like… okay, supposedly it was all just a story, but there was just so much to all of the description and everything, I don’t know… but I guess the same would apply to 江戸川乱歩 huh so who knows! It’s certainly a story that leaves you wondering, and it’s cool to be able to say I’ve read it
I was thinking about the story some more after reading it (it has that effect on you), and I came here to say that I’m very impressed with how modern it is for a story that was written a hundred years ago. The horror doesn’t come from the supernatural, or gore, or physical violence, as one might expect, but from the total violation of privacy in a situation where no one would think to have their guard up. The horror is in the feeling of always potentially being exposed and vulnerable without even realizing it, and that’s a today problem so much more than in the age the story was written. I’m more and more impressed the more I think about it.
Wuhuu, I’ve done it. I read the story completely. It was definitely the hardest thing I read in Japanese so far. Good thing the Furigana and Yomichan made it pretty accessible on Aozora.
Regarding the discussion:
I’m in the camp that it is actually a story. The part where he describes his time in the house is pretty short compared to the whole thing. Everything could be deduced by a bit of stalking and walking by her house sporadically. The room had a window, so he could have easily observed that she sits in this armchair every day. The 撫子 as well were placed at the window. That the husband bought the armchair at an auction could be gotten from a little talk with a maidservant or somebody who knows the family. It’s not like it was supposed to be secret, right? So I’m going with admirer that went WAY overboard into stalking territory instead of man in a chair .
Though to be honest, it really could be both XD…
@omk yeah, I can only agree. It is an excellent story that still reads well and has value in current days’ society. Impressive. I’m happy you initiated this Halloween read!
Thank you for linking it, it was great! He reads it so well.
It’s very nicely low-key creepy, with the creepy level rising steadily, and the conclusion not really dissolving it at all. Just about perfect for me! I’m bad with actual horror.
Read this today, a day late as had watch spooky things halloween day plans. I liked it a lot! It was a nice level of creepy gradually getting more and more unsettling as it went on. I also initially was like “so is the letter at the end a red herring and he is in the chair?” but I think reading the other comments here have convinced me the other way. It’s fun that it is a bit open to interpretation though!
Yeah, when I first read it I was like “that was neat” but the more time has passed the more my appreciation and feelings for it have grown. As you pointed out the style of horror makes it approachable for people who don’t like traditional horror and the “fake out” ending makes it digestible for those types of readers as well.
Basically, I think you now see why in your thread asking for a Halloween story this is the one I zeroed in on ;o
Think I’m going to join in late! I had already wanted to try reading this sometime. The idea of people sitting down and reading it in a day shows the large gulf between a lot of people here and me, haha, this could very well be a multi-week project depending on how much I get into it. To be fair some other reading projects are still coming first.
Read the very opening paragraph on aozora as a test (like, just the framing before the letter) and it’s relatively demanding, especially on lookups, but I’m happy to see this does seem doable. A few pieces of grammar throw me off if I was forced to explain what every little bit is doing, but I definitely can follow it so far. I’ve basically not touched older Japanese writing one bit before now so I suppose this is pretty good all the same, even if I turn a short story into a month long endeavor.