KWAIDAN: Stories and Studies of Strange Things

By Lafcadio Hearn

A Note from the Digitizer

On Japanese Pronunciation

Although simplified, the following general rules will help the reader

unfamiliar with Japanese to come close enough to Japanese pronunciation.

There are five vowels: a (as in fAther), i (as in machIne), u (as in

fOOl), e (as in fEllow), and o (as in mOle). Although certain vowels

become nearly "silent" in some environments, this phenomenon can be

safely ignored for the purpose at hand.

Consonants roughlyapproximate their corresponding sounds in English,

except for r, which is actually somewhere between r and l (this is why

the Japanese have trouble distinguishing between English r and l), and

f, which is much closer to h.

The spelling "KWAIDAN" is based on premodern Japanese pronunciation;

when Hearn came to Japan, the orthography reflecting this pronunciation

was still in use. In modern Japanese the word is pronounced KAIDAN.

There are many ellipses in the text. Hearn often used them in this

book; they do not represent omissions by the digitizer.

Author's original notes are in brackets, those by the digitizer are in

parentheses. Diacritical marks in the original are absent from this

digitized version.

KWAIDAN: Stories and Studies of Strange Things

By Lafcadio Hearn
























The publication of a new volume of Lafcadio Hearn's exquisite studies

of Japan happens, by a delicate irony, to fall in the very month when

the world is waiting with tense expectation for news of the latest

exploits of Japanese battleships. Whatever the outcome of the present

struggle between Russia and Japan, its significance lies in the fact

that a nation of the East, equipped with Western weapons and girding

itself with Western energy of will, is deliberately measuring strength

against one of the great powers of the Occident. No one is wise enough

to forecast the results of such a conflict upon the civilization of the

world. The best one can do is to estimate, as intelligently as

possible, the national characteristics of the peoples engaged, basing

one's hopes and fears upon the psychology of the two races rather than

upon purely political and statistical studies of the complicated

questions involved in the present war. The Russian people have had

literary spokesmen who for more than a generation have fascinated the

European audience. The Japanese, on the other hand, have possessed no

such national and universally recognized figures as Turgenieff or

Tolstoy. They need an interpreter.

It may be doubted whether any oriental race has ever had an interpreter

gifted with more perfect insight and sympathy than Lafcadio Hearn has

brought to the translation of Japan into our occidental speech. His

long residence in that country, his flexibility of mind, poetic

imagination, and wonderfully pellucid style have fitted him for the

most delicate of literary tasks. He has seen marvels, and he has told

of them in a marvelous way. There is scarcely an aspect of contemporary

Japanese life, scarcely an element in the social, political, and

military questions involved in the present conflict with Russia which

is not made clear in one or another of the books with which he has

charmed American readers.

He characterizes Kwaidan as "stories and studies of strange things." A

hundred thoughts suggested by the book might be written down, but most

of them would begin and end with this fact of strangeness. To read the

very names in the table of contents is like listening to a Buddhist

bell, struck somewhere far away. Some of his tales are of the long ago,

and yet they seem to illumine the very souls and minds of the little

men who are at this hour crowding the decks of Japan's armored

cruisers. But many of the stories are about women and children,--the

lovely materials from which the best fairy tales of the world have been

woven. They too are strange, these Japanese maidens and wives and

keen-eyed, dark-haired girls and boys; they are like us and yet not

like us; and the sky and the hills and the flowers are all different

from ours. Yet by a magic of which Mr. Hearn, almost alone among

contemporary writers, is the master, in these delicate, transparent,

ghostly sketches of a world unreal to us, there is a haunting sense of

spiritual reality.

In a penetrating and beautiful essay contributed to the "Atlantic

Monthly" in February, 1903, by Paul Elmer More, the secret of Mr.

Hearn's magic is said to lie in the fact that in his art is found "the

meeting of three ways." "To the religious instinct of India--Buddhism

in particular,--which history has engrafted on the aesthetic sense of

Japan, Mr. Hearn brings the interpreting spirit of occidental science;

and these three traditions are fused by the peculiar sympathies of his

mind into one rich and novel compound,--a compound so rare as to have

introduced into literature a psychologicalsensation unknown before."

Mr. More's essay received the high praise of Mr. Hearn's recognition

and gratitude, and if it were possible to reprint it here, it would

provide a most suggestiveintroduction to these new stories of old

Japan, whose substance is, as Mr. More has said, "so strangely mingled

together out of the austere dreams of India and the subtle beauty of

Japan and the relentless science of Europe."

March, 1904.

= = = = = = = *** = = = = = = =

Most of the following Kwaidan, or Weird Tales, have been taken from old

Japanese books,--such as the Yaso-Kidan, Bukkyo-Hyakkwa-Zensho,

Kokon-Chomonshu, Tama-Sudare, and Hyaku-Monogatari. Some of the stories

may have had a Chinese origin: the very remarkable "Dream of

Akinosuke," for example, is certainly from a Chinese source. But the

story-teller, in every case, has so recolored and reshaped his

borrowing as to naturalize it... One queer tale, "Yuki-Onna," was told

me by a farmer of Chofu, Nishitama-gori, in Musashi province, as a

legend of his native village. Whether it has ever been written in

Japanese I do not know; but the extraordinarybelief which it records

used certainly to exist in most parts of Japan, and in many curious

forms... The incident of "Riki-Baka" was a personal experience; and I

wrote it down almost exactly as it happened, changing only a

family-name mentioned by the Japanese narrator.


Tokyo, Japan, January 20th, 1904.



More than seven hundred years ago, at Dan-no-ura, in the Straits of

Shimonoseki, was fought the last battle of the long contest between the

Heike, or Taira clan, and the Genji, or Minamoto clan. There the Heike

perished utterly, with their women and children, and their infant

emperor likewise--now remembered as Antoku Tenno. And that sea and

shore have been haunted for seven hundred years... Elsewhere I told you

about the strange crabs found there, called Heike crabs, which have

human faces on their backs, and are said to be the spirits of the Heike

warriors [1]. But there are many strange things to be seen and heard

along that coast. On dark nights thousands of ghostly fires hover about

the beach, or flit above the waves,--pale lights which the fishermen

call Oni-bi, or demon-fires; and, whenever the winds are up, a sound of

great shouting comes from that sea, like a clamor of battle.

In former years the Heike were much more restless than they now are.

They would rise about ships passing in the night, and try to sink them;

and at all times they would watch for swimmers, to pull them down. It

was in order to appease those dead that the Buddhist temple, Amidaji,

was built at Akamagaseki [2]. A cemetery also was made close by, near

the beach; and within it were set up monuments inscribed with the names

of the drowned emperor and of his great vassals; and Buddhist services

were regularly performed there, on behalf of the spirits of them. After

the temple had been built, and the tombs erected, the Heike gave less

trouble than before; but they continued to do queer things at

intervals,--proving that they had not found the perfect peace.

Some centuries ago there lived at Akamagaseki a blind man named Hoichi,

who was famed for his skill in recitation and in playing upon the biwa

[3]. From childhood he had been trained to recite and to play; and

while yet a lad he had surpassed his teachers. As a professional

biwa-hoshi he became famous chiefly by his recitations of the history

of the Heike and the Genji; and it is said that when he sang the song

of the battle of Dan-no-ura "even the goblins [kijin] could not refrain

from tears."

At the outset of his career, Hoichi was very poor; but he found a good

friend to help him. The priest of the Amidaji was fond of poetry and

music; and he often invited Hoichi to the temple, to play and recite.

Afterwards, being much impressed by the wonderful skill of the lad, the

priest proposed that Hoichi should make the temple his home; and this

offer was gratefully accepted. Hoichi was given a room in the

temple-building; and, in return for food and lodging, he was required

only to gratify the priest with a musicalperformance on certain

evenings, when otherwise disengaged.

One summer night the priest was called away, to perform a Buddhist

service at the house of a dead parishioner; and he went there with his

acolyte, leaving Hoichi alone in the temple. It was a hot night; and

the blind man sought to cool himself on the verandah before his

sleeping-room. The verandah overlooked a small garden in the rear of

the Amidaji. There Hoichi waited for the priest's return, and tried to

relieve his solitude by practicing upon his biwa. Midnight passed; and

the priest did not appear. But the atmosphere was still too warm for

comfort within doors; and Hoichi remained outside. At last he heard

steps approaching from the back gate. Somebody crossed the garden,

advanced to the verandah, and halted directly in front of him--but it

was not the priest. A deep voice called the blind man's name--abruptly

and unceremoniously, in the manner of a samurai summoning an inferior:--


"Hai!" (1) answered the blind man, frightened by the menace in the

voice,--"I am blind!--I cannot know who calls!"

"There is nothing to fear," the stranger exclaimed, speaking more

gently. "I am stopping near this temple, and have been sent to you with

a message. My present lord, a person of exceedingly high rank, is now

staying in Akamagaseki, with many noble attendants. He wished to view

the scene of the battle of Dan-no-ura; and to-day he visited that

place. Having heard of your skill in reciting the story of the battle,

he now desires to hear your performance: so you will take your biwa and

come with me at once to the house where the augustassembly is waiting."

In those times, the order of a samurai was not to be lightly disobeyed.

Hoichi donned his sandals, took his biwa, and went away with the

stranger, who guided him deftly, but obliged him to walk very fast. The

hand that guided was iron; and the clank of the warrior's stride proved

him fully armed,--probably some palace-guard on duty. Hoichi's first

alarm was over: he began to imagine himself in good luck;--for,

remembering the retainer's assurance about a "person of exceedingly

high rank," he thought that the lord who wished to hear the recitation

could not be less than a daimyo of the first class. Presently the

samurai halted; and Hoichi became aware that they had arrived at a

large gateway;--and he wondered, for he could not remember any large

gate in that part of the town, except the main gate of the Amidaji.

"Kaimon!" [4] the samurai called,--and there was a sound of unbarring;

and the twain passed on. They traversed a space of garden, and halted

again before some entrance; and the retainer cried in a loud voice,

"Within there! I have brought Hoichi." Then came sounds of feet

hurrying, and screens sliding, and rain-doors opening, and voices of

women in converse. By the language of the women Hoichi knew them to be

domestics in some noble household; but he could not imagine to what

place he had been conducted. Little time was allowed him for

conjecture. After he had been helped to mount several stone steps, upon

the last of which he was told to leave his sandals, a woman's hand

guided him along interminable reaches of polished planking, and round

pillared angles too many to remember, and over widths amazing of matted

floor,--into the middle of some vast apartment. There he thought that

many great people were assembled: the sound of the rustling of silk was

like the sound of leaves in a forest. He heard also a great humming of

voices,--talking in undertones; and the speech was the speech of courts.

Hoichi was told to put himself at ease, and he found a kneeling-cushion

ready for him. After having taken his place upon it, and tuned his

instrument, the voice of a woman--whom he divined to be the Rojo, or

matron in charge of the female service--addressed him, saying,--

"It is now required that the history of the Heike be recited, to the

accompaniment of the biwa."

Now the entire recital would have required a time of many nights:

therefore Hoichi ventured a question:--

"As the whole of the story is not soon told, what portion is it

augustly desired that I now recite?"

The woman's voice made answer:--

"Recite the story of the battle at Dan-no-ura,--for the pity of it is

the most deep." [5]

Then Hoichi lifted up his voice, and chanted the chant of the fight on

the bitter sea,--wonderfully making his biwa to sound like the

straining of oars and the rushing of ships, the whirr and the hissing

of arrows, the shouting and trampling of men, the crashing of steel

upon helmets, the plunging of slain in the flood. And to left and right

of him, in the pauses of his playing, he could hear voices murmuring

praise: "How marvelous an artist!"--"Never in our own province was

playing heard like this!"--"Not in all the empire is there another

singer like Hoichi!" Then fresh courage came to him, and he played and

sang yet better than before; and a hush of wonder deepened about him.

But when at last he came to tell the fate of the fair and

helpless,--the piteous perishing of the women and children,--and the

death-leap of Nii-no-Ama, with the imperialinfant in her arms,--then

all the listeners uttered together one long, long shuddering cry of

anguish; and thereafter they wept and wailed so loudly and so wildly

that the blind man was frightened by the violence and grief that he had

  • actually [´æktʃuəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.事实上;实际上   (初中英语单词)
  • spelling [´speliŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.拼法;缀字   (初中英语单词)
  • absent [´æbsənt, əb´sent] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不在的 vt.使缺席   (初中英语单词)
  • volume [´vɔlju:m, ´vɑljəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.卷;书籍;体积;容量   (初中英语单词)
  • delicate [´delikət] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精美的;微妙的   (初中英语单词)
  • waiting [´weitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.等候;伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • whatever [wɔt´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.&a.无论什么   (初中英语单词)
  • western [´westən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.西的;西方的   (初中英语单词)
  • energy [´enədʒi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.活力,精力;能力   (初中英语单词)
  • conflict [´kɔnflikt, kən´flikt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.战斗;抵触   (初中英语单词)
  • civilization [,sivilai´zeiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.文明,文化   (初中英语单词)
  • estimate [´estimət, ´estimeit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.估计;评价 vt.估价   (初中英语单词)
  • intelligently [in´telidʒəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.聪明地;理智地   (初中英语单词)
  • purely [´pjuəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.仅仅;简单地   (初中英语单词)
  • generation [,dʒenə´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发生;世代;同龄人   (初中英语单词)
  • audience [´ɔ:diəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.听众;观众;接见   (初中英语单词)
  • sympathy [´simpəθi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.同情,怜悯   (初中英语单词)
  • residence [´rezidəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.居住(期间);住宅   (初中英语单词)
  • literary [´litərəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.文学(上)的   (初中英语单词)
  • marvelous [´mɑ:viləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  (=marvellous) a.奇异的   (初中英语单词)
  • aspect [´æspekt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.面貌;神色;方向   (初中英语单词)
  • contents [´kɔ:ntents] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.容纳物;要旨   (初中英语单词)
  • instinct [´instiŋkt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.本能;直觉;天资   (初中英语单词)
  • peculiar [pi´kju:liə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.特有的;奇异的   (初中英语单词)
  • compound [kəm´paund] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.混合(的) v.合成   (初中英语单词)
  • literature [´litərətʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.文学;文献;著作   (初中英语单词)
  • sensation [sen´seiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.感觉;轰动;轰动一时   (初中英语单词)
  • gratitude [´grætitju:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.感激,感谢   (初中英语单词)
  • introduction [,intrə´dʌkʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.介绍;引言;引导   (初中英语单词)
  • strangely [´streindʒli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.奇怪地;陌生地   (初中英语单词)
  • origin [´ɔridʒin] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.起源;由来;出身   (初中英语单词)
  • remarkable [ri´mɑ:kəbl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.值得注意的;显著的   (初中英语单词)
  • province [´prɔvins] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.省;领域;范围   (初中英语单词)
  • extraordinary [ik´strɔ:dinəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.非常的;额外的   (初中英语单词)
  • belief [bi´li:f] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.相信;信仰,信条   (初中英语单词)
  • incident [´insidənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.小事件;事变   (初中英语单词)
  • contest [kən´test, ´kɔntest] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.争辩 n.争夺;竞赛   (初中英语单词)
  • haunted [´hɔ:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.常出现鬼的,闹鬼的   (初中英语单词)
  • elsewhere [,elsweə] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.在别处;向别处   (初中英语单词)
  • whenever [wen´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  conj.&ad.无论何时   (初中英语单词)
  • restless [´restləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.没有休息的   (初中英语单词)
  • temple [´tempəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.庙宇;寺院;太阳穴   (初中英语单词)
  • emperor [´empərə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.皇帝   (初中英语单词)
  • childhood [´tʃaildhud] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.幼年(时代);早期   (初中英语单词)
  • recite [ri´sait] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.背诵;叙述   (初中英语单词)
  • chiefly [´tʃi:fli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.主要地;尤其   (初中英语单词)
  • career [kə´riə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.经历;生涯;职业   (初中英语单词)
  • priest [pri:st] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.教士;牧师;神父   (初中英语单词)
  • poetry [´pəuitri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.诗;诗意   (初中英语单词)
  • gratefully [´greitfuli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.感激地   (初中英语单词)
  • musical [´mju:zikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.音乐的;悦耳的   (初中英语单词)
  • performance [pə´fɔ:məns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.履行;行为;工作   (初中英语单词)
  • otherwise [´ʌðəwaiz] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.另外 conj.否则   (初中英语单词)
  • midnight [´midnait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.午夜;漆黑   (初中英语单词)
  • atmosphere [´ætməsfiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.大气;空气;气氛   (初中英语单词)
  • menace [´menəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.威胁(者) v.恐吓   (初中英语单词)
  • assembly [ə´sembli] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.集会;装配;与会者   (初中英语单词)
  • lightly [´laitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.轻微地,稍微   (初中英语单词)
  • presently [´prezəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不久;目前   (初中英语单词)
  • opening [´əupəniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.开放;开端 a.开始的   (初中英语单词)
  • amazing [ə´meiziŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.惊人的;惊奇的   (初中英语单词)
  • apartment [ə´pɑ:tmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.一套房间   (初中英语单词)
  • charge [tʃɑ:dʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.收费;冲锋 n.费用   (初中英语单词)
  • female [´fi:meil] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.女(性)的 n.女人   (初中英语单词)
  • portion [´pɔ:ʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.嫁妆;命运 vt.分配   (初中英语单词)
  • imperial [im´piəriəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.帝国的;庄严的   (初中英语单词)
  • infant [´infənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.婴(幼)儿   (初中英语单词)
  • violence [´vaiələns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猛烈;暴力(行)   (初中英语单词)
  • phenomenon [fi´nɔminən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.现象;奇迹;珍品   (高中英语单词)
  • roughly [´rʌfli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.粗糙地;毛糙地   (高中英语单词)
  • pronounced [prə´naunst] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.发出音的;显著的   (高中英语单词)
  • publication [,pʌbli´keiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发表;公布;发行   (高中英语单词)
  • exquisite [ik´skwizit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精巧的;敏锐的   (高中英语单词)
  • expectation [,ekspek´teiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.期待(望);预期   (高中英语单词)
  • significance [sig´nifikəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.意义;重要性   (高中英语单词)
  • deliberately [di´libərətli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.故意地;慎重地   (高中英语单词)
  • psychology [sai´kɔlədʒi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.心理(学)   (高中英语单词)
  • oriental [ɔ:ri´entl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.东方人的   (高中英语单词)
  • translation [træns´leiʃən, trænz-] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.翻译;译文;译本   (高中英语单词)
  • cemetery [´semitri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.墓地,公墓   (高中英语单词)
  • regularly [´regjuləli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.有规律地;经常地   (高中英语单词)
  • behalf [bi´hɑ:f] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.利益   (高中英语单词)
  • lodging [´lɔdʒiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.寄宿,住宿   (高中英语单词)
  • gratify [´grætifai] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.使高兴;满足   (高中英语单词)
  • solitude [´sɔlitju:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.孤独;寂寞;荒凉   (高中英语单词)
  • exceedingly [ik´si:diŋli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.非常地,极度地   (高中英语单词)
  • stride [straid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.进展 v.跨过;骑   (高中英语单词)
  • assurance [ə´ʃuərəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.保证;自信;信任   (高中英语单词)
  • converse [´kɔnvə:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.交谈 a.相反的   (高中英语单词)
  • thereafter [ðeə´rɑ:ftə] 移动到这儿单词发声  adv.此后,其后   (高中英语单词)
  • approximate [ə´prɔksimit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.近似的 v.接近   (英语四级单词)
  • corresponding [,kɔri´spɔndiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.符合的;相当的   (英语四级单词)
  • outcome [´autkʌm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.结果;后果;成果   (英语四级单词)
  • universally [,ju:ni´və:səli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.普遍地   (英语四级单词)
  • wonderfully [´wʌndəfuli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.令人惊讶地;奇妙地   (英语四级单词)
  • psychological [,saikə´lɔdʒikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.心理学(上)的   (英语四级单词)
  • austere [ɔ´stiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.严峻(格)的;质朴的   (英语四级单词)
  • appease [ə´pi:z] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.平息;使满足   (英语四级单词)
  • forecast [´fɔ:kɑ:st] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.&n.预测;预报   (英语六级单词)
  • insight [´insait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.洞悉;洞察力;见识   (英语六级单词)
  • suggestive [sə´dʒestiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.暗示的;启发的   (英语六级单词)
  • relentless [ri´lentləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无情的;坚韧的   (英语六级单词)
  • ghostly [´gəustli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.鬼的;朦胧的   (英语六级单词)
  • speaking [´spi:kiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.说话 a.发言的   (英语六级单词)
  • august [ɔ:´gʌst] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尊严的;威严的   (英语六级单词)
  • deftly [´deftli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.灵巧地,敏捷地   (英语六级单词)
  • interminable [in´tə:minəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无终止的;冗长的   (英语六级单词)
  • recital [ri´saitl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.背诵;叙述;音乐会   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:35:13
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