Monday, October 20, 2014

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination Tokyo with Steve Bein

Come on boys and ghouls!  It's time to hop on Route 666 for a spooktacular Paranormal Road Trip.  This week's stop is Tokyo and our special guide is Steve Bein author of the Fated Blades series.

The Fated Blades series is set in Tokyo, Japan so it seems fitting that our guide for this week's Paranormal Road Trip be the amazing Steve Bein.  Let's see what terrifying places Steve has planned for our tour.

Tokyo's Top Five Spooky Places

1. Masakado no Kubizuka.  Kubizuka means “grave for a head,” and that’s what you’ll find if you get off at Otemachi station in Tokyo.  It’s not just any old head that’s interred there; this one belonged to Taira Masakado, one of the great warriors in the earliest days of the samurai.

In 939 he stood up against the Imperial house, and the histories have it that an oracle actually proclaimed Masakado to be the true emperor.  The sitting emperor wasn’t having any of that, of course, so he sent troops to kill the upstart.  Masakado insisted until the end that he was loyal to the law and to the empire, but he was surrounded, killed, and suffered the posthumous disgrace of having his head carted all the way back down to Kyoto to be put on public display.

The head didn’t care for that, so it took flight and soared all the way back to the sleepy fishing village of Shibasaki, which eventually became Edo, which eventually became Tokyo.  1100 years later the kubizuka remains, and the locals still venerate it.  Why?  Because if they don’t, they tend to get struck by earthquakes or typhoons.

2. The Prime Minister’s Mansion.  This is my very favorite story of modern Japanese history.  Last year, new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to move into his mansion.  He refused to say why, but the truth was common knowledge: he believed it was haunted.  I’m not making this up; mainstream media sources reported on this.  (Here’s one article.)

How does he know it’s haunted?  First, he’s got close to 100 years’ worth of ghostly rumors on his side.  Second, he used to live there.  He was prime minister before—briefly, from 2006-2007—and for all we know, he got a taste of some of those ghost stories firsthand.  Two things we know for sure.  First, he and his wife have been in no hurry to move back in.  Second, it’s pretty hard to imagine any US president being re-elected after refusing to move into the residence at the White House because of ghost stories.

3. Ueno Toshogu Shrine.  Apparently these samurai don’t take death lying down.  Like the Masakado no Kubizuka, the hilltop shrine in Tokyo’s Ueno Park is the site of a massive samurai rebellion.  In 1868 Japan finally shrugged off 265 years of military rule under the Tokugawa shogunate, reinstating the emperor as the supreme ruler of the land.   Two thousand shogun loyalists took their last stand against the Imperial forces, choosing the temple of Kaneiji as their battleground.

It didn’t go well for them or for the temple.  The 300-acre temple complex was all but destroyed, replaced today by a public park, the Toshogu Shrine, and the occasional cold spot in the evening—supposedly the ghosts of lingering samurai.  Tokyo summers can get pretty hot, so if you want to go have a nice picnic in the park, maybe a few undead guests wouldn’t be so bad.

4. Atsugi Naval Air Base. Kanagawa, a large prefecture in Greater Tokyo, is home to the Atsugi Naval Air Base.  Kamikaze pilots used to take off from here in the final months of World War II.  After the Japanese surrender, many of these pilots took their own lives, following the long-standing samurai tradition of preferring death to dishonor.  Rumor has it that you can still see their glowing red eyes floating in the hangar bay.

On the same base you can find BEQ 985, an old barracks supposedly haunted by a young man that wanders from room to room.  Those who have seen him say he’s the spirit of a Marine who was killed in a car crash in the 1960s.

5. Yokosuka Ikego Concentration Camp.  Everyone knows about the German concentration camps in WWII, but not everyone knows about the Japanese camps.  One of them was in Yokosuka, on the outskirts of Greater Tokyo.  Thousands of Chinese and Koreans were put to work and later killed.  Today it has become a housing base for US troops, which is not what I’d call ideal accommodations.  Living on the site of a former concentration camp has got to be pretty creepy.  The incinerators are still standing.

There are three gates into Ikego, and the one called the Middle Gate is the site of multiple ghost sightings.  People report hearing voices and footsteps, and a few have reported seeing a legless Japanese soldier in WWII battle dress crawling between the Middle Gate and the Back Gate.

Thank you Steve for giving us such a haunting tour of Tokyo!  

To learn more about Steve Bein and his books, please visit his website and don't miss our Q+A with Steve Bein here at From the Shadows.  You can add the Fated Blades series here on Goodreads.

Readers, was this your first visit to Tokyo?  Have you experienced anything supernatural in and around Tokyo, Japan?

What did you think of Steve Bein's picks for spooky places?

Last week on Paranormal Road Trip we visited Austin, Texas with Gerry Bartlett.  Next week we'll be traveling to Detroit, Michigan with Laura Bickle.

Join us for another spine-tingling Paranormal Road Trip...
if you dare!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop: Win Legend of Witchtrot Road

Welcome to our stop on the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!  In honor of Teen Read Week, we've chosen a spooky young adult book for our readers.

Keep reading for a chance to win a *signed* copy of Legend of Witchtrot Road.

Legend of Witchtrot Road (Spirit Guide #3) by E.J. Stevens.

Surviving agitated ghosts, irritated witches, angry werewolves, and the horrors of high school has never been so hard.

The night of Samhain may be behind them, but Yuki and her friends have only begun to face the challenges of their paranormal gifts. Tensions are rising--in the pack, at school, and within their tightly knit group of friends.

The tragic death of Wakefield High student Dylan Jacobs has emotions boiling over. The J-Team, Yuki's arch nemesis, have turned the entire football team against her. They claim that Yuki is a witch and blame her for the death of their fellow teammate. Will Yuki be able to solve the mystery of Dylan's death, and the legend of Witchtrot Road, before tempers flare and things turn violent?

Emma is the friend that Yuki turns to when things get tough, but she's been behaving strangely. Emma has been acting distant and seems to be coming down with a mysterious illness. What will Yuki and her friends do if their healer is truly sick?

Calvin has become Alpha and wants the best for his pack. He is a dedicated and compassionate leader willing to do anything for the good of his people, but will Cal be able to hold the pack together when a fiery, young werewolf comes seeking revenge?

Simon may still be a roguish playboy, but he is taking his role as Calvin's second in command deadly serious. Will Simon be able to focus on his pack duties when he is forced to face his dark, emotional past?

Release Date:  October 4, 2011
Genre:  Young Adult, Paranormal Mystery, Paranormal Romance
Add to Goodreads.

Spooktacular Giveaway

We are giving away a *signed* trade paperback copy of Legend of Witchtrot Road and Legend of Witchtrot Road swag (bookmarks, postcard, and sticker) to one lucky winner!

To enter, please use the easy peasy Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.  Giveaway ends October 31, 2014 midnight EST.

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Good luck and thank you for stopping by From the Shadows.

Let's hop!

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination Austin with Gerry Bartlett

Come on boys and ghouls!  It's time to hop on Route 666 for a spooktacular Paranormal Road Trip.  This week's stop is Austin and our special guide is Gerry Bartlett author of the Glory St. Clair series.

Keep reading for a chance to win a fabulous Keepin' It Weird Austin, TX t-shirt!

The Glory St. Clair series is set in Austin, Texas so it seems fitting that our guide for this week's Paranormal Road Trip be the amazing Gerry Bartlett.  Let's see what terrifying places Gerry has planned for our tour.

Austin's Top Five Spooky Places

The Driskill  Hotel is said to be haunted by several ghosts. The saddest to me is in room 525. There two young women committed suicide on their honeymoons. This was on the same day, twenty years apart. It’s said you can see them in the mirror of the bathroom there. Hmm. Think I’ll pick another floor. Even Colonel Driskill, the cattle baron who built the grand hotel on Austin’s Sixth Street (yes, right down from my heroine Glory St. Claire’s vintage clothing shop), is said to haunt the hotel. His cigar smoke sometimes lingers in the air even though Austin doesn’t allow smoking in public buildings now.

The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to one of the world’s largest urban bat colonies. So naturally Austin holds a Bat Festival every year. This is one reason I set my Real Vampires series here. With a town that has the motto “Keep Austin Weird” how could I resist? The stream of bats emerging at sunset every night during the summer is scary to me. Could there be a few vampires among them, enjoying the flight? I don’t want to know, do you? The  bridge is very close to Sixth Street too.

Traveling around Austin you’ll still see some of the Moonlight Towers, built in the 19th century after a serial killer terrorized the city. The Servant Girl Annihilator preyed on housemaids asleep in their beds who he then dragged outside to mutilate and kill with a knife between 1884 and 1885. The killer was never captured and some say he could have been the person who three years later showed up in London and began operating as Jack the Ripper. Perhaps the towers shed too much light on his bloodthirsty habits and that’s why he left Austin. Creepy for sure.

Buffalo Billiards is also on Sixth Street almost across from the Driskill Hotel. It was built in 1861 and was rumored to begin life as a boarding house and maybe brothel. Cowboys had a good time there. Now the employees are convinced it’s haunted—by children and a woman in Victorian dress. Ghost hunters went in to search for evidence.  They heard voices and footsteps. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need that. There’s a YouTube video if you’re interested.

Finally I couldn’t resist a funny one. There’s a Home Depot in Austin near my brother’s house. No, I didn’t bother with a picture since they all look alike to me. Seems the garden center there is haunted. A girl posted a story claiming her father, who was an amateur carpenter, died in his home workshop leaving the family in serious debt. They couldn’t afford a big funeral, just cremation. When it came time to dispose of the ashes, they decided to leave Daddy where he loved it most—in Home Depot. So they sneaked into the garden center and sprinkled him around the plants where he wouldn’t be noticed. Since then, a bald man with a beer belly has been sighted strolling the aisles out there. When you try to ask for assistance, he vanishes. Oh, well, guess Daddy’s happy. He spent a lot of time there in life and he left the credit card bills to prove it.

Thank you Gerry for giving us such a haunting tour of Austin!  

To learn more about Gerry Bartlett and her books, please visit her website and don't miss our Q+A with Gerry Bartlett here at From the Shadows.  You can add the Glory St. Clair series here on Goodreads.

Readers, was this your first visit to Austin?  Have you experienced anything supernatural in and around Austin, Texas?

What did you think of Gerry Bartlett's picks for spooky places?

 Now for a giveaway!

Paranormal Road Trip: Austin, Texas Giveaway

The author is giving away a Keepin' It Weird Austin, Texas t-shirt to one lucky winner!

To enter, please leave a comment on this post and include your email address so we may contact you if you win.  This giveaway is open to the US/CA/UK mailing addresses.  Giveaway ends Monday, October 27, 2014 midnight EST.

Last week on Paranormal Road Trip we visited San Diego, California with S.J. Harper.  Next week we'll be traveling to Tokyo, Japan with Steve Bein.

Join us for another spine-tingling Paranormal Road Trip...
if you dare!