Secrets of Japan

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Front Cover

Publisher: Chaosium

Product Code: 2392

Publishing Year: 2005

Pages: 360

Cover Price: $34.95

Author(s): Michael Dziesinski

Artist(s): Nottsuo (cover & interior), Paul Carrick, Jason Chan, Michael Dziesinski, Katsuhika Hokusai, Drashi Khendup, Andy Lee, E.J. Su, Jason Thompson, Sigmund Torre, Melissa Uran

Setting(s): Modern

Format(s): Softcover

ISBN: 1-56882-156-5


Modern-Day Exploration of the Land of the Rising Sun

Japan is a contradictory nation of ancient traditions and modern high-tech free enterprise. Within its dark shadows and hidden places, Great Old Ones, Outer Gods, and their monstrous servitors lie in wait for the unwary. In the corporate boardrooms and political offices, secret societies carry out their sinister agendas. In hoary shrines and temples, Shinto kami and Buddhist bodhisattvas provide ancient knowledge and alien enlightenment to those who remember the old ways. Cutting-edge corporate laboratories uncover forbidden secrets and create new horrors born of human science and the corrupting power of the Mythos. The mass media bombards the population with escapist entertainment and crass materialism while the madness of cosmic truth slowly seeps through, burrowing into the popular consciousness.

Welcome to the Land of the Rising Sun, where you will discover that the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos are not limited to the West.

SECRETS OF JAPAN provides detailed information for playing CALL OF CTHULHU adventures in a modern Japanese setting. This book includes new character occupations, new spells, new monsters, new organizations, and rules for playing Japanese investigators. Also included are three adventure scenarios, two short stories, a glossary of cultural terms, details on Shinto and Buddhism in a CALL OF CTHULHU setting, extensive cultural background notes, and the secret history of Japan!

The book is almost exclusively given over to source material useful to running Call of Cthulhu adventures in Japan. Only approximately thirty pages is given over to scenario material; there is also some short fiction.

The book is organised into an introduction, a set of five "scrolls" (thematic groupings of content) and a set of appendices. Each "scroll" is divided into sections.

The sections included in the volume are summarized below:


  • Using This Book
  • Imperfect Mirrors
  • Horrid Humor
  • Islands of Mystery
  • Cthulhu in a Kimono
  • Japanese
  • Why This Book?

Scroll One: Atmosphere

  • Section One: Roleplaying
    • Something is Coming
    • Today's Japan
    • Man and Machine
    • A Slice of Life
    • Keys to the Setting
    • Themes
    • Call of Cthulhu. Anime-Style
    • Handling Japanese Investigators
    • Handling Foreign Investigators
    • Mental Health (Seishinbyô)
    • Skills in Japan
    • Budô: Japanese Martial Arts
    • Map: Japan (Nihon)
  • Section Two: A Brief Primer
    • Geography and Nature
    • Regions of Japan
    • Map: Administrative Divisions of Japan
    • Map: Kanto Region
    • Map: Kink Region
    • Transportation
    • Mass Communications
    • Japanese Etiquette
    • The Japanese Yen
    • Costs and Equipment (Kaimono)
    • Legal Weapons (Gôhôteki na Buki)
    • Section Three: A Dark Perspective
    • Degenerate Buddhism (Daraku Bukkô)
    • State Shinto
    • Other Perspectives

Scroll Two: Secrets

  • Section One: Catalogue Nipponica
    • The Doctrine of Buddha's Tears
    • Fumetsu no Dokyô (The Tao of Immortality)
    • Jigoku Zoshi (The Scroll of the Hells)
    • Kinki Kyôten (The Forbidden Sutra)
    • Kuro Majyutsu: Kotodama no Gikô (Black Arts: Craft of Kotodama)
    • Makafushigi Michi (The Mysterious Path)
    • Rock Garden on Infinity: Memoirs of a Demon
    • Shinwa Taizen (The Book of Myth)
    • Project Yûrei White Paper
    • The Sixth Ring
    • Supernaturalia Japonica
  • Section Two: A Japanese Grimoire
    • Spells by Belief System
    • Section Three: Native Treasures
    • Trinkets. Talismans. and Wards
    • Mythic and Sacred Items
    • Sanshu no Jingi (The Imperial Regalia)

Scroll Three: People

  • Section One: Light and Shadow (short fiction)
  • Section Two: Institutions. Organizations. and Power Groups in Japan
    • The Imperial Household
    • The Japanese Government
    • The Self Defense Forces (SDF)
    • The National Police Force (NPF)
    • Keiritsu/Zaibatsu
    • Education
    • The Yakuza (Bôryokudan)
  • Section Three: Cults and Secret Societies
    • Buddha's Tears (Butsu no Namida)
    • Brotherhood of the Black Lotus
    • Dragon Lords (Ryû-Ryôshû)
    • Project Ydrei (Pu-ro-je-ku-to Yûrei)
  • Section Four: Allies and Enemies
    • Third Eye Agency (Sado-Aie-Ay-gen-shii)
    • Yotsubishi Psi-Mech Division
    • Secret Societies and Cultists
    • Leaders and Administrators
    • Independent's Gallery
    • Yonaguni Monuments

Scroll Four: The Six Realms

  • Section One: Inhabitants of the Realms
    • Nirvana and the Pure Lands
    • Tengoku: The Heavenly Realms
    • The Earthly Realm
    • Aura Realm: Revenge & Hate
    • Yomi: Realms of the Dead
    • Jigoku
    • Mythos Entities in the Six Realms
    • Further Mythos Influences

Scroll Five: Scenarios and Sinister Seeds

  • Section One: Starter Scenarios
    • The Hin-no-Maru Slaying
    • Meiro (The Labyrinth)
    • The Yonaguni Monuments
  • Section Two: Sinister Seeds
  • Section Three: One Step Beyond (notes on running games in other time periods)
    • Historical Scenarios
    • Famous Personages and Literature


  • Appendix One: Cultural Lexicon
    • Regions and Cities
    • The Urban Scene
    • Philosophy
    • Social Theory
    • Religious Theory
  • Appendix Two: Timelines
    • Disasters. Strife. the Noteworthy
    • The Mysterious. Disturbing and Weird
  • Appendix Three: The Silk Road
  • Appendix Four: University of Tokyo
    • Points of Interest
    • Campus Map
    • Occult Catalog
    • Archeology Department
    • Cryptozoology Department
  • Selected Bibliography & Reading List
  • Japanese Investigator’s Sheet
  • Map: Japan
  • Map: Tokyo Subway Guide
  • Index

Scenarios: The Hin-no-Maru Slaying, Meiro (The Labyrinth), The Yonaguni Monuments plus about 30 (half-page) scenario seeds

Front Cover Text

Cthulhu NOW

Surviving the Mythos in Present Day Japan

Back Cover Text

Secrets of Japan

A Guide to Roleplaying in Present-Day Japan

TWO JAPANS: One is a bright, modern, technical wonder of glass and steel. The other is a shadowy labyrinth of corrupt feudal customs. Both uneasily coexist on a string of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of China. This coveted archipelago is a battleground for primordial entities who once ruled the Empire of the Sun, who remember a golden age, and who will themselves not be forgotten.

Azathoth. Hastur. Yig. Nyarlathotep. Cthulhu.

JAPAN: a cold glittering star of enlightenment in the black void of ultimate cosmic truth. The millenium is here -- the third and final age of man is over. Mappo has come. Buddha will not save you.

SECRETS OF JAPAN contains a comprehensive portrayal of the culture, history and people of Japan presented in a Lovecraftian setting. Japan is the playground of over two millenia of history and culture. Here is a new world of possibilities for keepers and investigators wishing to take their adventures East.

Comments / Trivia

This is the longest and most detailed sourcebook published to date by Chaosium, and the second longest Chaosium Call of Cthulhu supplement (after Beyond the Mountains of Madness]]).

This was the first in Chaosium's on-going line of "Secrets of ..." sourcebooks for the game.

Dedication: "To Joyce and Michael, my mother and father, for never losing faith in me. First and foremost, this book is for the both of you. And to Mac, who taught me how to drive straight. Hey J! Look what I did with my crayons!
To my younger brother and sisters Justin, Allison, and Jowanda, for letting me be the oldest. We are all special in our own way and have our own strengths. Cherish them as I cherish you.
To my editor on this book, David "Big C" Mitchell. You were always on hand to be my "second" when the need arose to disembowel my prose. Your tanto sharp eye helped make this book ready for prime time. Domo! And of course, a warm thank you to Lynn for his continual support with Secrets of Japan. You gave me an opportunity for which I will always be grateful.
Most importantly, I thank you, the reader, who now holds this newest addition to the Cthulhu Mythos in your hands. There is more to come! Enjoy.
Finally, I dedicate this book to that great lady, Nippon, the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan and her people have burrowed into the deepest core of my being and wormed their way into my heart. I treasure the years I spent living in Japan and will return to her shores. Japan is a place I honestly love, and sometimes despise. She’s a country both awe inspiring and baffling. I thank you, Japan, for bottomless inspiration and the great many joys you have left in my soul."


Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.

Source Material References

References to Mythos creatures, tomes, artifacts, and Lovecraftian locations that appear within this book's scenarios are described in the pages

detailing these scenarios. There are, however, numerous such references made in the source sections (and thus not associated with a specific scenario).

These references are detailed below.




Tomes and Artifacts:

Sourcebook New Rules

New Spells:

New Skills:

New Creatures:

Comment here to Keepers about this book. Comments on specific Scenarios and Campaigns go on their respective pages. Keep DISCUSSION on the talk page.