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The Japanese have two kinds of ghosts in their folklore—the spirits of the dead, and the spirits of the living. This classic of Japanese literature invites you to take your choice if you dare. In Ghostly Japan collects twelve ghostly stories from Lafcadio Hearn, deathless images of ghosts and goblins, touches of folklore and superstition, salted with traditions of the natio The Japanese have two kinds of ghosts in their folklore—the spirits of the dead, and the spirits of the living. This classic of Japanese literature invites you to take your choice if you dare. In Ghostly Japan collects twelve ghostly stories from Lafcadio Hearn, deathless images of ghosts and goblins, touches of folklore and superstition, salted with traditions of the nation. While some of these stories contain nightmare imagery worthy of a midnight creature feature, others are not ghostly or ghastly at all. "Bits of Poetry" offers an engaging study on verse, and "Japanese Buddhist Proverbs" explains the meaning of several aphorisms based on Japanese cultural references. Whether you're looking to spot the demons that walk among us, or simply to enjoy the prose of a legendary craftsman, In Ghostly Japan affords countless delights. Stories include: "Fragment" about a young pilgrim who encounters a mountain of skulls "Ingwa-banashi" about a dying wife who bequeaths a rival a sinister legacy "A Passional Karma" about a spectral beauty who returns for her handsome samurai lover


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The Japanese have two kinds of ghosts in their folklore—the spirits of the dead, and the spirits of the living. This classic of Japanese literature invites you to take your choice if you dare. In Ghostly Japan collects twelve ghostly stories from Lafcadio Hearn, deathless images of ghosts and goblins, touches of folklore and superstition, salted with traditions of the natio The Japanese have two kinds of ghosts in their folklore—the spirits of the dead, and the spirits of the living. This classic of Japanese literature invites you to take your choice if you dare. In Ghostly Japan collects twelve ghostly stories from Lafcadio Hearn, deathless images of ghosts and goblins, touches of folklore and superstition, salted with traditions of the nation. While some of these stories contain nightmare imagery worthy of a midnight creature feature, others are not ghostly or ghastly at all. "Bits of Poetry" offers an engaging study on verse, and "Japanese Buddhist Proverbs" explains the meaning of several aphorisms based on Japanese cultural references. Whether you're looking to spot the demons that walk among us, or simply to enjoy the prose of a legendary craftsman, In Ghostly Japan affords countless delights. Stories include: "Fragment" about a young pilgrim who encounters a mountain of skulls "Ingwa-banashi" about a dying wife who bequeaths a rival a sinister legacy "A Passional Karma" about a spectral beauty who returns for her handsome samurai lover

30 review for In Ghostly Japan: Spooky Stories with the Folklore, Superstitions and Traditions of Old Japan

  1. 5 out of 5

    Horace Derwent

    in japan there're two kinds of ghosts, the ones from the living and the ones from the dead, which doesn't mean there're living ghosts and dead ghosts :] people(including chinese) convince that when people die, there'll be ghosts, ghosts are dead people. but here, this book will let you learn some other opinions lemme offer an instance: i wanna kill someone, and i'm alive, and then my spirit go off of my body to kill that person :D well, that's a living ghost homicide. and when i fulfill my revenge, in japan there're two kinds of ghosts, the ones from the living and the ones from the dead, which doesn't mean there're living ghosts and dead ghosts :] people(including chinese) convince that when people die, there'll be ghosts, ghosts are dead people. but here, this book will let you learn some other opinions lemme offer an instance: i wanna kill someone, and i'm alive, and then my spirit go off of my body to kill that person :D well, that's a living ghost homicide. and when i fulfill my revenge, the ghost return to my flesh and i'm still alive \m/ i can't figure out whether a ghost is from a living human or a dead corpse, but ghosts do have good and evil features like us so i believe that not all of the stories in the book are of horror...so looking forward to the Kagutaba shit, 禍具魂

  2. 5 out of 5

    Suki St Charles

    Based on the title of this book, and the cover art (my copy depicts the Bodhisattva and a pilgrim climbing an enormous mountain made of human skulls), I was expecting a collection of ghost stories and weird fiction. Instead, this is primarily a collection of essays, parables, and fables of Buddhist life in old Japan (the book was first published in 1899). There is also an interesting essay about incense, and a lovely essay about poetry. The "ghostly" tales in this volume are gently spooky, with Based on the title of this book, and the cover art (my copy depicts the Bodhisattva and a pilgrim climbing an enormous mountain made of human skulls), I was expecting a collection of ghost stories and weird fiction. Instead, this is primarily a collection of essays, parables, and fables of Buddhist life in old Japan (the book was first published in 1899). There is also an interesting essay about incense, and a lovely essay about poetry. The "ghostly" tales in this volume are gently spooky, with strong Buddhist overtones. There is one exception, however: 'Ingwa-banashi' is a wonderfully eerie story that would be perfectly at home in any collection of weird fiction. The final piece,'At Yaidzu', starts out sounding as if it might be a ghost story, but it morphs into a beautiful meditation on the sea, life, death, and the eternal Self. I enjoyed this book even more because it was a total surprise, completely different than what I was expecting.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Munzar

    A fantastic book from the chief exporter of Japanese culture to the occidental world. A sketchbook of sorts, in the same vein of The Sketchbook by Washington Irving, full of short stories and well informed observations of a rural Japan that has now, unfortunately, mostly slipped into the clutches of urban development. Hearn was obviously extremely enamoured by his chosen subject, and as such he has left us with a plethora of vivid descriptions that help conjure beautiful, ethereal. and often chi A fantastic book from the chief exporter of Japanese culture to the occidental world. A sketchbook of sorts, in the same vein of The Sketchbook by Washington Irving, full of short stories and well informed observations of a rural Japan that has now, unfortunately, mostly slipped into the clutches of urban development. Hearn was obviously extremely enamoured by his chosen subject, and as such he has left us with a plethora of vivid descriptions that help conjure beautiful, ethereal. and often chilling images of the darker corners of that intriguing land to the east. The story of the peony lantern stuck in my mind as a wonderful amalgamation of all the aforementioned elements and helped highlight the unique nature of the Japanese supernatural world view. All in all a charming book that won’t take up to much of your time, but will hopefully find a fond place in your heart. If the subject matter should interest you enough that you would like to read something in a similar vein then I highly recommend Kwaidan, by the same author, and also Japanese Ghosts and Demons: Art of the supernatural by Stephen Addiss.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    I read "In Ghostly Japan" immediately after finishing Hearn's "Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" for which it serves as a very good annex. In addition to the ghost stories, this volume also contains interesting discussions of incense, Japanese proverbs and Haiku. It lacks however any unifying theme which is why I urge to GR members to read "Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" first which provides a framework for the motley assortment of items in this book. I read "In Ghostly Japan" immediately after finishing Hearn's "Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" for which it serves as a very good annex. In addition to the ghost stories, this volume also contains interesting discussions of incense, Japanese proverbs and Haiku. It lacks however any unifying theme which is why I urge to GR members to read "Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" first which provides a framework for the motley assortment of items in this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stacia

    Though I read a later edition, the first edition was published in 1899. In a way, this little collection reminds me of Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra. Both are men in foreign countries, traveling, learning about, living in, & experiencing cultures other than their own. Some of the essays or stories give you insights into the cultures, habits, & surroundings, while others recount local folktales & folklore. This is a delightful little collection that surely must have been an enticing l Though I read a later edition, the first edition was published in 1899. In a way, this little collection reminds me of Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra. Both are men in foreign countries, traveling, learning about, living in, & experiencing cultures other than their own. Some of the essays or stories give you insights into the cultures, habits, & surroundings, while others recount local folktales & folklore. This is a delightful little collection that surely must have been an enticing look at Japan through a Westerner's lens, especially when first published. A standout in the book is the chapter titled "A Passional Karma", which is Hearn's retelling of the Botan Dōrō (The Peony Lantern), a Japanese ghost story. In another section (entitled "Bits of Poetry"), Hearn explains... "The first curious fact is that, from very ancient times, the writing of short poems has been practiced in Japan even more as a moral duty than as a mere literary art. The old ethical teaching was somewhat like this: -- "Are you very angry? -- do not say anything unkind, but compose a poem. Is your best-beloved dead? -- do not yield to useless grief, but try to calm your mind by making a poem. Are you troubled because you are about to die, leaving so many things unfinished? -- be brave, and write a poem on death! Whatever injustice or misfortune disturbs you, put aside your resentment or your sorrow as soon as possible, and write a few lines of sober and elegant verse for a moral exercise." One last comment. In the section "Japanese Buddhist Proverbs", number 11 made me chuckle a bit: "The priest who preaches foul doctrine shall be reborn as a fungus." Succinct & to the point, no? A neat window, via 1899, looking into Japan.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rufus

    In Ghostly Japan is Lafcadio Hearn's wonderfully-written long essay on various interesting subjects in Japan. He talks of supernatural and ghost stories, Buddhist proverbs, there's an interesting meditation on spirituality brought upon by the howling of his dog (I particularly liked this one because of its humor), the curious history and activities surrounding incense, on the science of divination, among other subjects. This is a must-read for any serious cultural understanding of Japan. Treat i In Ghostly Japan is Lafcadio Hearn's wonderfully-written long essay on various interesting subjects in Japan. He talks of supernatural and ghost stories, Buddhist proverbs, there's an interesting meditation on spirituality brought upon by the howling of his dog (I particularly liked this one because of its humor), the curious history and activities surrounding incense, on the science of divination, among other subjects. This is a must-read for any serious cultural understanding of Japan. Treat it as an introduction of sorts. What stands out is the writing of Hearn. It is warm and inviting. Though written more than a century ago, it is still highly readable. (Also I recommend his separate short essay 'On the Gothic' as it explains the reason for his fascination with subjects of this sort.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Pretty good. Not gonna write an elaborate review. Listened to the whole book on Libravox while doing manual tasks: https://librivox.org/in-ghostly-japan... The best chapters were the ones which were actual horror stories. Ingwa-Banashi, A Passional Karma, pt 1 and 2, and maybe one or 2 im forgetting. The Buddhist proverbs and bits of poetry were kind of nice too. A lot of this book is premised in Buddhist culture, as opposed to Shinto. I don't know how representative this is of archaic Japanese Pretty good. Not gonna write an elaborate review. Listened to the whole book on Libravox while doing manual tasks: https://librivox.org/in-ghostly-japan... The best chapters were the ones which were actual horror stories. Ingwa-Banashi, A Passional Karma, pt 1 and 2, and maybe one or 2 im forgetting. The Buddhist proverbs and bits of poetry were kind of nice too. A lot of this book is premised in Buddhist culture, as opposed to Shinto. I don't know how representative this is of archaic Japanese "horror", but it certainly is entertaining. Its not really a horror text though. If anything it is merely strange or weird.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ariel Hudnall

    More a philosophical and spiritual musing on the supernatural stories of Japan than a collection of ghost stories, In Ghostly Japan by Lafcadio Hearn is beautifully written and wonderfully thought-provoking. The text leans heavily into the doctrines of Buddhism, but with a clear, Western interpretation and consideration. Despite not totally living up to its name (think more anecdotes, rather than actual ghost stories), In Ghostly Japan is still worth a read for its cultural relevance, as well as More a philosophical and spiritual musing on the supernatural stories of Japan than a collection of ghost stories, In Ghostly Japan by Lafcadio Hearn is beautifully written and wonderfully thought-provoking. The text leans heavily into the doctrines of Buddhism, but with a clear, Western interpretation and consideration. Despite not totally living up to its name (think more anecdotes, rather than actual ghost stories), In Ghostly Japan is still worth a read for its cultural relevance, as well as Hearn's unique and powerful imagery. There are a couple of short ghost stories in the collection, but most lend themselves to 'impressions' of ghosts rather than full-on haunting, so if that is what you are looking for, you won't find it here. As well, some background in the language of culture of Japan will greatly increase your enjoyment, as there are not enough footnotes or translations of certain pivotal words (like sen for money) to make the work abundantly clear. Also, as I mentioned, the book leans on Buddhism for most if its readings, so be aware of that going in. A book I would happily pick up for a second or third reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is an odd hodgepodge of essays and recollections by Hearn, a European who became a Japanese citizen in the late 19th century. Although there are one or two ghost stories, in the Western sense, the book focuses more on the occult and spiritual aspects of Japanese culture, including a collection of Buddhist proverbs. I had intended to read this while I was on vacation in Kyoto, but never had much time. It was a great way to "revisit" my trip a month or so later. This is an odd hodgepodge of essays and recollections by Hearn, a European who became a Japanese citizen in the late 19th century. Although there are one or two ghost stories, in the Western sense, the book focuses more on the occult and spiritual aspects of Japanese culture, including a collection of Buddhist proverbs. I had intended to read this while I was on vacation in Kyoto, but never had much time. It was a great way to "revisit" my trip a month or so later.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Celine

    Wonderful, and wonderfully read by the good folk at librivox

  11. 5 out of 5

    Luke

    This was the second collection of Lafcadio Hearn's writings that I've read, and I have to say that it's not as successful as Kwaidan. Of course, this is probably due to the fact that Kwaidan's generally more skewed towards the storytelling side of things. In Ghostly Japan is more interested in analysing parts of the Japanese culture rather than attempting to convey some feelings of spookiness. Spookiness isn't really in this collection of stories - like Kwaidan, it focuses more on the mysterious This was the second collection of Lafcadio Hearn's writings that I've read, and I have to say that it's not as successful as Kwaidan. Of course, this is probably due to the fact that Kwaidan's generally more skewed towards the storytelling side of things. In Ghostly Japan is more interested in analysing parts of the Japanese culture rather than attempting to convey some feelings of spookiness. Spookiness isn't really in this collection of stories - like Kwaidan, it focuses more on the mysterious side of life, in an everyday day - that is, when it's not discussing the completely everyday. Interestingly, it's these that provide more interest; the writing on Buddhist proverbs and on incense prove a little more interesting than the truly ectoplasmic tales. It's still worth a read, however; Hearn's prose is subtle and sensitive.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Silveyra

    As opposed to Hearn's other book on Japan, this is a more amusing read. It is a brief but endearing collection of scenes, folk tales and customs of 19th century Japan and its tradition. You can just feel the author choking up as he writes the more moving parts of the book, and it gets pretty contagious when you travel through this wonderful country. As the Japanese are still very much Japanese, you can get some sense of continuity (even though they are obviously a hyper-modern civilization). It is As opposed to Hearn's other book on Japan, this is a more amusing read. It is a brief but endearing collection of scenes, folk tales and customs of 19th century Japan and its tradition. You can just feel the author choking up as he writes the more moving parts of the book, and it gets pretty contagious when you travel through this wonderful country. As the Japanese are still very much Japanese, you can get some sense of continuity (even though they are obviously a hyper-modern civilization). It is a short, free read on a Kindle, so I do recommend it for travelers.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    A true miscellany. This is a collection of short pieces, some of them folktales, from Japan. There really doesn't seem to be much connection between them other than the translator. Hearn apparently had wide-ranging interests, and a ghost story may be followed by a discussion of Buddhism or haiku or a treatise on games played with incense or just about anything. This book is, perhaps, best dipped into rather than read straight through. Parts of it are fascinating, but as a whole it's a bit bewild A true miscellany. This is a collection of short pieces, some of them folktales, from Japan. There really doesn't seem to be much connection between them other than the translator. Hearn apparently had wide-ranging interests, and a ghost story may be followed by a discussion of Buddhism or haiku or a treatise on games played with incense or just about anything. This book is, perhaps, best dipped into rather than read straight through. Parts of it are fascinating, but as a whole it's a bit bewildering.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Belle

    I'm a little bit let down by this collection of ghost stories. They're not merely stories per se, but anecdotes and myths of Buddhism. Growing up in a predominately Buddhist country, the author only repeated things that I'm more than familiar with, so these chapters on Buddhism were simply tedious. I was actually looking forward to read more about Japanese Folklore and ancient Japanese traditions. I find his section on personal experience while living in Japan fascinating and his self-reflection I'm a little bit let down by this collection of ghost stories. They're not merely stories per se, but anecdotes and myths of Buddhism. Growing up in a predominately Buddhist country, the author only repeated things that I'm more than familiar with, so these chapters on Buddhism were simply tedious. I was actually looking forward to read more about Japanese Folklore and ancient Japanese traditions. I find his section on personal experience while living in Japan fascinating and his self-reflection was quite deep and thought-provoking, alas they were too short and barely satisfactory.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Trinie

    This is a book of essays about ghost tradition in Japan. It discusses not only different ghosts in literature but also the accoutrements associated with ghosts in Japan and the historical beliefs. There is a cool essay called INCENSE which talks about what Japanese beliefs are about calling spirits with incense, and there is a story about a man who climbs a mountain of skulls. Sweet!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Madhuri

    This small book reads like a collection of traveler's notes. He dives into a mystic culture which has woven the supernatural into its system of beliefs. The collection of poetry and proverbs in the middle of the book make for most interesting reading. How Japanese capture profound longing and beauty in 13 words always impresses me deeply. This small book reads like a collection of traveler's notes. He dives into a mystic culture which has woven the supernatural into its system of beliefs. The collection of poetry and proverbs in the middle of the book make for most interesting reading. How Japanese capture profound longing and beauty in 13 words always impresses me deeply.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nickie

    Very intriguing book, I found it to be less spooky and more philosophical, with more of the focus being the folklore, superstitions and traditions of Old Japan explained. I particularly enjoyed a section about a dog that guarded a part of a village and her howling and what it evoked for the teller of that tale. The sections describing the ritual use of incense; the ubiquity of poetry in Japan, on so many surfaces and it's various subtleties; the section on Buddhist proverbs, were all very intere Very intriguing book, I found it to be less spooky and more philosophical, with more of the focus being the folklore, superstitions and traditions of Old Japan explained. I particularly enjoyed a section about a dog that guarded a part of a village and her howling and what it evoked for the teller of that tale. The sections describing the ritual use of incense; the ubiquity of poetry in Japan, on so many surfaces and it's various subtleties; the section on Buddhist proverbs, were all very interesting, but it was the final section, regarding the sea and music that I found the most moving. A couple of passages from this section follow: "But there are sounds that move us much more profoundly than the voice of the sea can do, and in stranger ways, ---- sounds that also make us serious at times, and very serious, ----- sounds of music." "Great music is a psychical storm, agitating to unimaginable depth the mystery of the past within us." "And in one way we ourselves are as Gods, ----- since it is only the sum of the pains and the joys of past lives innumerable that makes for us, through memory organic, the ecstacy of music. All the gladness and the grief of dead generations come back to haunt us in countless forms of harmony and of melody. . Even so ----- a million years after we shall have ceased to view the sun, ----- will the gladness and the grief of our own lives pass with richer music into other hearts..."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Uninvited

    The book is titled "In Ghostly Japan", but this title is semi-misleading, as only half the stories are ghost related. Along with the ghosts, there are stories about Japanese traditions, Buddhist lore, as well as poems and proverbs. That, however, does not make the book less interesting. A couple of the stories were slightly lukewarm, especially "Suggestion", but most are a pleasure to read. "Incense" and "At Yaidzu" especially stood out, "Incense" talking about the incense burning traditions and The book is titled "In Ghostly Japan", but this title is semi-misleading, as only half the stories are ghost related. Along with the ghosts, there are stories about Japanese traditions, Buddhist lore, as well as poems and proverbs. That, however, does not make the book less interesting. A couple of the stories were slightly lukewarm, especially "Suggestion", but most are a pleasure to read. "Incense" and "At Yaidzu" especially stood out, "Incense" talking about the incense burning traditions and games, and "At Yaidzu" blending traditions to honor the dead with the deeper meaning of the sea and music. From the ghost stories, "Ingwa-banashi" and "A Passional Karma" are particularly brilliant, with the former ending up being one of the creepiest things I've ever read! The main problem with "In Ghostly Japan" though is that it presupposes some basic knowledge of Buddhism and Japanese folklore. Although there are a few footnotes to help, by someone entirely novice in those subjects, like I am, the book can only be fully understood holding it in one hand, while holding Google in the other. I don't know if there are other editions with more notes, but this particular one by Tuttle could certainly use a lot more. There are even Japanese words left untranslated... So, fair warning: If you read the Tuttle edition, make sure you're not somewhere with no access to Google (e.g. some desert island), unless you are already fairly versed in the book's subjects.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hez

    Fragment is a Buddhist fable with an amazing twist ending. The best parts of Hearn's books are the Japanese stories, but his journalistic reports on cultural practices and life in Japan are good. His philosophical musings are sometimes interesting but too morbid. I listened to this on Librivox. There are good and bad readers on there. The good ones are emotive yet refined. The biggest mistakes people make are to read too slowly, I think because everyone knows you shouldn't read too fast, and to Fragment is a Buddhist fable with an amazing twist ending. The best parts of Hearn's books are the Japanese stories, but his journalistic reports on cultural practices and life in Japan are good. His philosophical musings are sometimes interesting but too morbid. I listened to this on Librivox. There are good and bad readers on there. The good ones are emotive yet refined. The biggest mistakes people make are to read too slowly, I think because everyone knows you shouldn't read too fast, and to shout. A soft tone is very important for a relaxing reading experience and it is not enough simply to enunciate loudly mistaking this for clearly. And you gotta leave some pauses between paragraphs and especially at a page break. I hate it when they rush straight through a page break. Like give these people air cohaagen!

  20. 5 out of 5

    George

    LESS THAN ENTHRALLING. “…because he offered the West some of its first descriptions of pre-industrial and Meiji Era Japan, his work has historical value.”-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lafcadio... “Like monkeys trying to snatch the moon’s reflection on water.”—Loc 1030/1562 Because he was one of the first Europeans to offer insights into the mysteries of Japan, I was curious, prompted, and anxious to read something by Lafeadio Hearn. His exposition, IN GHOSTLY JAPAN, is clearly written, but less LESS THAN ENTHRALLING. “…because he offered the West some of its first descriptions of pre-industrial and Meiji Era Japan, his work has historical value.”-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lafcadio... “Like monkeys trying to snatch the moon’s reflection on water.”—Loc 1030/1562 Because he was one of the first Europeans to offer insights into the mysteries of Japan, I was curious, prompted, and anxious to read something by Lafeadio Hearn. His exposition, IN GHOSTLY JAPAN, is clearly written, but less than very interesting. Recommendation: Only if your deeply curious. “Meeting is only the beginning of separation.”—Loc 1018/1562 Free Project Gutenberg edition from Kindle

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Crawford

    This is a book by Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), one of the most famous writers of Japanese legend and lore. He has a wonderfully poetic writing style, and everything he writes is interesting. The title of this volume is a little misleading, though, as the the book does not dwell entirely on the supernatural. Instead, there is a long section on the use of incense by the Japanese; a section on poetry; some Buddhist proverbs, some other materials, and some stories of a supernatural nature. It's a very This is a book by Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), one of the most famous writers of Japanese legend and lore. He has a wonderfully poetic writing style, and everything he writes is interesting. The title of this volume is a little misleading, though, as the the book does not dwell entirely on the supernatural. Instead, there is a long section on the use of incense by the Japanese; a section on poetry; some Buddhist proverbs, some other materials, and some stories of a supernatural nature. It's a very good and a very interesting book, both.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rana Adham

    This book is an interesting combination of essays, poetry, personal experiences and ghost stories. I liked the essay on Incense (4 Stars), loved the ghost story Romance of the Peony (5 Stars), and thought the compilation of Japanese poems and Buddhist proverbs interesting (3 Stars). The other essays were okay, and as for the Suggestion: No thanks ✋🏻 The writer was clearly passionate about Japan and Buddhism, and the book is therefore a great source of information on some aspects of Japanese folklo This book is an interesting combination of essays, poetry, personal experiences and ghost stories. I liked the essay on Incense (4 Stars), loved the ghost story Romance of the Peony (5 Stars), and thought the compilation of Japanese poems and Buddhist proverbs interesting (3 Stars). The other essays were okay, and as for the Suggestion: No thanks ✋🏻 The writer was clearly passionate about Japan and Buddhism, and the book is therefore a great source of information on some aspects of Japanese folklore.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fenixbird SandS

    Peony lantern, incense, Buddhist proverbs & skull mountain?...enough to peak MY interest!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    This short book discusses some stories of death and loss, but also incense ceremonies, haiku, Buddhist culture in Japan and other cultural aspects.  Good to know but not light reading.  

  25. 4 out of 5

    Delgado Bulstrode

    This book is like a ghost. I don't agree with many of his essays. I don't know if Hearn was a Buddhist, but he commonly made reference to Buddhist religion in this book, going so far as to find a paternal-like God absurd. These moments were some of the best in the book, in my opinion, regardless, because it helped delineate him and his worldview very well. The talks about evolution were interesting. The incense game was idiosyncratic (why give so long an explanation, Hearn?) The stories were all This book is like a ghost. I don't agree with many of his essays. I don't know if Hearn was a Buddhist, but he commonly made reference to Buddhist religion in this book, going so far as to find a paternal-like God absurd. These moments were some of the best in the book, in my opinion, regardless, because it helped delineate him and his worldview very well. The talks about evolution were interesting. The incense game was idiosyncratic (why give so long an explanation, Hearn?) The stories were all wonderful. I am unsure whether I simply enjoy Hearn as a writer or because the stories felt like old ghost stories, the ones that might not be very sophisticated, but which are still alluring nonetheless. Climbing a hill with mysterious falling soil, a karmic ghost alluring a (according to Hearn) "contemptible" lover, are examples of this. Others were surprising, like that of a dying woman's final, breast clenching wish. Lafcadio's essays and personal experiences were themselves almost fictional story-like. A dog being painted by all the neighbors round to avoid government sanctioned(?) dog killers - the dog having a howl that represents the evil rules of the universe, wolf-like, to cast a dark tinge. The finale of the book, wherein Hearn swims after lanterns lit and sent off for the dead, remarking that he might have been one of his own ghost stories if he hadn't returned. I wish to read more of Hearn very soon. His descriptive powers are marvelous, his superstitions are fun, and although it appears that he has aged (seeing that he died in 1905), his book rises from the grave to wonder the streets as ghost.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kitti

    A wonderful glimpse of the traditions of Japanese culture intertwined with horror stories.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Harris

    I read this a few years ago but decided to reread it prior to heading off on my first visit to Japan and I'm glad I did. There is a lot of food for thought and interesting facts in this short collection of vignettes and folktales. Lafcadio Hearn is a fascinating figure and a very evocative writer as well, with an almost modern style, despite writing at the end of the nineteenth century. Hearn was born in Greece to a Greek mother and an Irish doctor father, educated in England, and became a journ I read this a few years ago but decided to reread it prior to heading off on my first visit to Japan and I'm glad I did. There is a lot of food for thought and interesting facts in this short collection of vignettes and folktales. Lafcadio Hearn is a fascinating figure and a very evocative writer as well, with an almost modern style, despite writing at the end of the nineteenth century. Hearn was born in Greece to a Greek mother and an Irish doctor father, educated in England, and became a journalist and writer in the United States before spending the last decade of his life or so in Japan, becoming a Japanese citizen. To this day, his work is more well known in Japan. In this short collection of essays, Hearn muses on Japanese topics, in particular Buddhist traditions and folklore which reflect Japanese ways of thinking in a time of great change in Japanese society. For the most part, Hearn manages to avoid "exotifying" or patronizing his subjects, though he also is pretty obviously infatuated with their ways of life. For instance, the collection of Japanese proverbs, with footnotes and annotations, was very interesting, though of course, my favorites were the ghostly stories, particularly the tales of the Bon, the festival of the dead held in late summer. For anyone interested in accessible obscure and arcane lore about Japanese folklore, Lafcadio Hearn's work is a good place to start.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Larry Tysome

    I found it a bit difficult to appreciate in the Kindle version because this is like a scrap book, or 19thC Pinterest, for Japanese and Buddhist culture and beliefs. The facility to flick back and forth to re-locate stuff, including all the useful notes and explanations, would have improved greatly what I got from this. I cannot remember what originally led me to this book or author (I think it has been on my Kindle for some time) but its time came! This is an uncommonly interesting book from an I found it a bit difficult to appreciate in the Kindle version because this is like a scrap book, or 19thC Pinterest, for Japanese and Buddhist culture and beliefs. The facility to flick back and forth to re-locate stuff, including all the useful notes and explanations, would have improved greatly what I got from this. I cannot remember what originally led me to this book or author (I think it has been on my Kindle for some time) but its time came! This is an uncommonly interesting book from an uncommonly interesting person. It is full of insights to the Japanese traditions and Hearn's journalistic experience means it is like reading a magazine on the subject. Hearn's own earlier humanist beliefs come through in the allegorical story of the life of silk worms. However, the stress is definitely on Buddhism and Buddhist spirituality. There are no scarey ghost stories in the Western tradition, but there are lots of explorations of the implications of Buddhist belief. Hearn is a remarkable guy being self-taught (from public and private libraries) and having had an itinerant childhood, being passed from one adult to another, and one set of religious beliefs to another. It makes what he has to say well worth taking notice of.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    Mi primer día en Oriente: “El primer hechizo de Japón es tan intangible y volátil como un perfume” "Assuredly those impressions which longest haunt recollection are the most transitory: we remember many more instants than minutes, more minutes than hours; and who remembers an entire day? The sum of the remembered happiness of a lifetime is the creation of seconds. 'What is more fugitive than a smile? yet when does the memory of a vanished smile expire? or the soft regret which that memory may evo Mi primer día en Oriente: “El primer hechizo de Japón es tan intangible y volátil como un perfume” "Assuredly those impressions which longest haunt recollection are the most transitory: we remember many more instants than minutes, more minutes than hours; and who remembers an entire day? The sum of the remembered happiness of a lifetime is the creation of seconds. 'What is more fugitive than a smile? yet when does the memory of a vanished smile expire? or the soft regret which that memory may evoke? "Regret for a single individual smile is something common to normal human nature; but regret for the smile of a population, for a smile considered as an abstract quality, is certainly a rare sensation, and one to be obtained, I fancy, only in this Orient land whose people smile for ever like their own gods of stone. And this precious experience is already mine; I am regretting the smile of Kaka. "Simultaneously there comes the recollection of a strangely grim Buddhist legend. Once the Buddha smiled; and by the wondrous radiance of that smile were countless worlds illuminated. But there came a Voice, saying: 'It is not real! It cannot last!' And the light passed."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Justinian

    2019-08 – In Ghostly Japan. Lafcadio Hearn (Author) 1899 98 Pages. This is considered a classic text on Meji era Japan … offering insights into earlier eras through passed down stories and lore. I encountered this book at the gift shop of the Philadelphia museum of Art during the recent ukiyo-e exhibit of the work of artist Yoshitoshi called “Spirit and Spectacle” An artists whose work chronicled the Meji era in woodblock prints of vibrant hue and ghostly image. I opted to read this book after my 2019-08 – In Ghostly Japan. Lafcadio Hearn (Author) 1899 98 Pages. This is considered a classic text on Meji era Japan … offering insights into earlier eras through passed down stories and lore. I encountered this book at the gift shop of the Philadelphia museum of Art during the recent ukiyo-e exhibit of the work of artist Yoshitoshi called “Spirit and Spectacle” An artists whose work chronicled the Meji era in woodblock prints of vibrant hue and ghostly image. I opted to read this book after my second visit to the exhibit. The book is more than ghost stories or plots for Kabuki. It is replete with transliterated and translated proverbs, insights into customs, stories, and past times such as incense parties. Japanese ghost stories tend more to the psychological than the abject physical horror of Occidental tales. This book provides a look into the context and societal underpinnings that allow for those ghost stories to operate in the mind and imagination of both the individual and the collective psyche. Digressions in Buddhist thought and tradition, folklore, Shinto, poetry and landscape. An excellent introduction to Japan behind the mask.

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