Realm of the Dead describes the lands of both the living and the dead. In this collection of short stories, they are equally dark and mysterious worlds where logic and reality are subject to constant change and where ideas about identity and self are continually questioned.
In the title story, the narrator watches footage from the Russo-Japanese War, but then, moving across the screen, finds himself fighting in the war. In another story, a man who has accidentally killed an old woman chases after a mysterious girl. When he reaches her and grabs her hand, she shatters like a statute and turns to the narrator: she is not a girl at all, but the woman he has killed.
Considered one of the foremost innovators of Japanese modernism, Hyakken incorporates a distinctly non-Western set of myths and folklore to evoke a society—and a people—on the brink of enormous change.