“Even as she screamed, her voice became thin, like a crying of wind; then she melted into a bright white mist that spired to the roof beams. Never again was she seen.”
Lafcadio Hearn’s Kwaidan (which means “ghost story” in Japanese) is the first and most famous collection of Japanese yokai stories ever published. This unforgettable collection of 17 eerie tales and 3 original cultural studies by Hearn are based on traditional oral tales passed down for generations. They are fresh reminders of the dark and mysterious corners of the Japanese psyche, from popular representations in anime, manga and video games to Masaki Kobayashi’s Oscar-nominated horror film Kwaidan.
This new edition includes over 20 full-color woodblock prints that showcase the rich visual tradition of Japanese Yokai. A new foreword by Michael Dylan Foster, the leading Western expert on Yokai literature, places the stories in context and explains the lasting importance of Hearn’s pioneering look at Japan’s bewitching spirit world.
The stories in this volume include:
- “Yuki-onna” — A ghostly woman saves a man during a fierce snowstorm then gives him a deadly warning…
- “The Story of Mimi-Nashi-Hoichi” — A musician is unwittingly called upon by a Samurai to perform for the dead, with bloody consequences.
- “Diplomacy” — A Samurai warrior avoids the ghostly revenge of a man he intends to kill by outsmarting him before striking he strikes the death blow.
Hearn is the best-known early Western interpreter of Japanese culture and was particularly interested in tales of the supernatural. He eagerly gathered “delicate, transparent, ghostly sketches” in his adopted land and translated them with gusto. His English versions were translated back into Japanese and are considered classics of Japanese literature to this day–eagerly devoured by Japanese school children.