Lafcadio Hearn’s Translated Japanese Ghost stories
I love a good classical ghost story. Some of my favorites are English ghost stories from the 1800 and 1900’s. But a good ghost story is not limited to just old British tales. Ghost stories are a phenomenon across all cultures and eras. Some cultures even had elaborate systems for telling ghost stories.
Lafcadio Hearn (aka Yakumo Koizumi) was born of Irish parents and had a difficult upbringing by most standards. He became a writer and journalist, but was captivated by Japanese culture that he experienced at the World Exposition in New Orleans. Shortly after, he traveled to Japan in 1890 at the age of 40. He soon made Japan his home, married, raised a family, and found continued success as a writer.
One of his favorite subjects was Japanese ghost stories. Japanese ghost stories are interesting because they are heavily influenced by Buddhist thought, and often carry a hint of moral elements. He collected and translated several works on the subject. Kwaidan is probably his most famous collection of ghost stories – stories which were even turned into a movie.
It turns out there are at least 3 different Lafcadio Haern museums/homes in Japan. Hopefully I’ll see them someday, but until then I’ll be happy just reading the stories.
- Lafcadio Hearn digital museum – This is really cool. They even have a walk-through VR-like guided tour with audio. (other VR tours of the area)
- Lafcadio Hearn Museum and former residence
- Hearn former residence