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Synopsis

Lafcadio Hearn is well-known in his Japanese name, Koizumi Yagumo. Actually, I never doubted that Koizumi Yagumo was a born-Japanese. His famous Kwaidan, or Japanese ghost stories are so Japanese and it really scared me. When my brother told me that Koizumi Yagumo is actually a Western people, I didnt believe it at first...

He was born in 1850 in Greek, his mothers country. Educated in his fathers country, Ireland, he went to USA when he was 19 years old. He worked as a journalist in New Orlens, then came to Japan and became an English teacher in Matsue, Shimane prefecture in 1890. He married with Yae Koizumi and got Japanese citizenship.

Kwaidan includes ghost stories lik Earless Ho Ichi, a Biwa (Japanese PiPa) player and story teller of famous Heike legends, who was possesed by Heike (the warrior family once governed Japan then defeated) warriors ghosts because of his talent, and Mujina, bewitched racoon dogs which scare people to death. Koizumi Yagumo is more Japanese than Japanese... Koizumi Yagumo is still popular in Japan (and I believe a lot of people still believe that he is a born-Japanese...). When I searched Koizumi Yagumo in Japanese Goo, it hit 422!

Kwaidan is Hearns most famous book, and justifiably so. It is the least academic of his works, collecting together some of Japans core ghost and monster stories into one slim volume. Much like the Brothers Grimm, Hearn did not actually create these stories but rather compiled them and put them into written form for the first time, learning them from folk tales and storytellers.

Along with famous, Kwaidan is Hearns most influential book. The Story of Mimi-nashi Hoichi is as well-known in Japan as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is in the United States. The Yuki Onna has made it into a few films, including Kurosawas Dreams and the filmed version of this book, Kwaidan.

The stories themselves are of excellent quality, ranging from spooky ghost tales to humorous tales of wandering monks encountering monsters. Each story ranges from 5-15 pages long.

Along with the stories are three insect studies, the likes of which can be found in all Hearn books. These are excellent academic studies of insects in traditional Japanese folk lore, including childrens songs and haiku poetry involving insects.

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