Too Scary
Author: Shimako Iwai
Specifications: ISBN  978-4043596010
211 pages
10.6 x 14.8 cm / 4.2 x 5.9 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Kadokawa Corporation
Tokyo, 1999
Awards: Yamamoto Shugoro Prize, 2000
Japan Horror Story Grand Prize, 1999
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The scariest of the four masterfully told spine tinglers in this collection is without a doubt the title story, which has also been adapted to film as Imprint by acclaimed horror director Takashi Miike (2006). The Japanese title is an expression of extreme fear in the dialect of the Okayama region, where the author grew up; it is this very distinctive local dialect in which a 23-year old prostitute in an Okayama brothel tells her sanguinary life story to a customer. She starts with her birth as the second of twin sisters born during a year of famine to the poorest home in a village where every household is desperately poor. Her mother is nominally a midwife, but the bulk of her practice is in abortions and the disposal of unwanted newborns. Though she and her twin are tossed in the river like so many before them, they miraculously survive; by the age of four, she has become her mother's assistant, helping with the disposal of babies. She loses her virginity before she is ten?to her own father. The man ekes out a living as a hired hand, but is kept at arm's length by the community: not only are he and his wife outsiders, having fled to this remote village from across the Inland Sea in Shikoku, but they are brother and sister; the twins were the product of an incestuous union. The prostitute ultimately clubs her father to death, then at age 16 is sold by her mother to the brothel where she now works. When another girl, Komomo, catches her in the act of stealing the madam's diamond ring, the protagonist makes it look like suicide and hangs her. She learns that the man to whom she is telling her story was one of Komomo's regulars. As the night advances, she reveals that the sister she spoke of is a parasitic twin: she lifts the hair hanging over the left side of her face to show a tiny second head attached to hers. In its mouth is a diamond ring . . .