Strongly influenced by the works of the German Romantics and suffused with grotesque imagery rooted in the anxieties and uncertainty of human existence, the 18 fantastical tales in Realm of the Dead are distillations of the author's dreams that evoke in the reader a horror of death as well as an awe of the supernatural.
The images in the dreamscapes described in this book fade into one another without rhyme or reason. In one scene, "I," the narrator, is on his way to see a woman when he suddenly finds himself in the company of a horse-faced man. In another, "I" discovers he has been turned into a monster with the body of an ox and a human head. Or, a panther comes after "I" as he is passing by a store selling pet birds. On vacation, his wife departs with another man. "I" goes to a freak show with a woman, only to find that the woman has turned into a freak herself. Meeting his dead father at a cheap restaurant, "I" calls out to him, but his father ignores him and walks away. Rooted in Japanese folk traditions, the dreamscapes in these tales open up doors to another world?one inhabited by people and beasts from ancient folklore.
Triumphant March into Port Arthur, a collection of 29 stories, was published as a sequel to Realm of the Dead. The title story describes the viewing of old film footage of the Russo-Japanese War (1904??05) as the narrator shifts between viewer and participant, moving back and forth across the screen.
The two collections were translated and published in English in 2006 in one volume, under the title Realm of the Dead.