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Supernatural Japan

An alternative look at Japan through its uneasy relationship with ghosts, travelling to the deep countryside of the North East, encountering storytellers, priests and a shaman.

In this Sunday Feature, historian Chris Harding travels from Tokyo to the deep countryside of Japan's north east to tell the alternative story of the country, looking at how, throughout their history, Japanese people have used ghosts and ghost stories to make sense of themselves and their place in the world.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, taxi drivers in the area reported 'ghost riders' in their vehicles. The local fire services were called out regularly to locations that turned out to be deserted - but when they started praying for the souls of the dead before returning to base, they were never called back again to the same site...

For most of us Japan is the ultimate secular, modern, and future-looking society. But what we encounter in breakthrough films like Ring is a small hint at a vast cultural landscape almost entirely unknown to us: ghosts and the ghostly, never far from the surface in popular consciousness in Japan and breaking through at times of transition or crisis.

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

Available now

45 minutes


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