Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things

Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (怪談, Kaidan, also Kwaidan (archaic)), often shortened to Kwaidan ("ghost story"), is a 1904 book by Lafcadio Hearn that features several Japanese ghost stories and a brief non-fiction study on insects.[1] It was later used as the basis for a 1964 film, Kwaidan, by Masaki Kobayashi.[2]



Hearn declares in his introduction to the first edition of the book, which he wrote on January 20, 1904, shortly before his death, that most of these stories were translated from old Japanese texts.[3] However, a farmer in Musashi Province told him the tale of Yuki-Onna ("Snow Woman"). Legends of Yuki-Onna could be found throughout Japan and predate Kwaidan (including Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan), though Hearn was unaware of them having previously been written and his version of a harmful Yuki-Onna is original.[4] "Riki-Baka" is based on a personal experience of Hearn's. While he does not declare it in his introduction, "Hi-Mawari" – among the final narratives in the volume – seems to be a recollection of an experience in his childhood (it is, setting itself apart from almost all the others, written in the first person and set in rural Wales).

Insect Studies


Hearn studied and wrote extensively on insects.[5] The last section of Kwaidan contains three essays on insects and their connection to Chinese and Japanese beliefs.[6]

See also



  1. ^ Brian Stableford, "Kwaidan", in Frank N. Magill, ed. Survey of Modern Fantasy Literature, Vol 2. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, Inc., 1983, ISBN 0-89356-450-8 (pp. 859-860).
  2. ^ McPherson, Mark (26 April 2022). "Colorful Dread in Kwaidan (1964) by Masaki Kobayashi". Visual Cult Magazine. Ducas Media. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  3. ^ Hearn, Lafcadio (1998). Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  4. ^ Makino, Yoko (1991). "Lafcadio Hearn's "Yuki-Onna" and Baudelaire's "Les Bienfaits de la Lune"". Comparative Literature Studies. 28 (3). Penn State University Press: 234–244. JSTOR 40246790. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  5. ^ Lurie, David B. (2005). "Orientomology: The Insect Literature of Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904)". In Pflugfelder, Gregory M.; Walker, Brett L. (eds.). JAPANimals: History and Culture in Japan's Animal Life (PDF). Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  6. ^ "Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1904)". The Public Domain Review. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2022.