ISBN 9780241381274 – Penguin – Penguin UK Paperback 288 pp – August 2019
The improbable life story of Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) included a peculiarly gothic childhood in Ireland during which he was successively abandoned by his mother, his father and his guardian; two decades in New Orleans, where he worked as a journalist and was sacked for marrying a former slave; and a long period in Japan, where he became a Buddhist, married a Japanese woman and wrote about ju-jitsu and Japanese aesthetics for a Western readership. His ghost stories, which were drawn from Japanese folklore, appeared in collections throughout the 1890s. He is a much celebrated figure in Japan.
A selection of Lafcadio Hearn’s brilliantly entertaining and eerie ghost stories, regarded as major classics in Japan.
In this collection of classic ghost stories from Japan, beautiful princesses turn out to be frogs, paintings come alive, deadly spectral brides haunt the living, and a samurai delivers the baby of a Shinto goddess with mystical help. Here are all the phantoms and ghouls of Japanese folklore- ‘rokuro-kubi’, whose heads separate from their bodies at night; ‘jikininki’, or flesh-eating goblins; and terrifying faceless ‘mujina’ who haunt lonely neighbourhoods. Lafcadio Hearn, a master storyteller, drew on traditional Japanese folklore, infused with memories of his own haunted childhood in Ireland, to create these chilling tales. They are today regarded in Japan as classics in their own right.