In Ghostly Japan by Lafcadio Hearn
Trade Paperback – Tuttle – May 2021 – 191 pages
In this book, famed author Lafcadio Hearn presents 14 fascinating stories, including deathless ghosts and yokai, local folklore and haunted places, as well as Buddhist traditions. This edition includes a new foreword by Michael Dylan Foster which explains the book’s importance as a Japanese cultural and literary classic.
The Japanese have two kinds of ghosts in their folklore – the spirits of the dead and the spirits of the living. In Ghostly Japan examines both and, in the process, offers a fascinating window into Japan’s supernatural and spiritual world.
The 14 stories include:
- “Fragment” – A young pilgrim encounters a mountain of skulls and is shown a terrible truth
- “Ingwa-banashi” – On her deathbed, a dying wife bequeaths to her young rival a sinister and horrific gift
- “A Passional Karma” – A spectral beauty transcends death to return for her handsome samurai lover
- “Story of a Tengu” – A priest saves the life of a Yokai monk and is granted a wish, but the outcome is not as expected
While some stories contain spine-tingling imagery, others offer looks into Japan’s rich culture and folklore. “Bits of Poetry” offers an engaging study on the nation’s fascination with verse, “Japanese Buddhist Proverbs” explains the meaning of several traditional Zen Buddhist sayings and “Incense” examines its use in rituals to summon and banish spirits.
Whether you’re interested in classic ghost stories, or simply want to enjoy the prose of a legendary writer, In Ghostly Japan affords countless delights.