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Kwaidan Paperback – June 14, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

COSIMO CLASSICS offers distinctive titles by the great authors and thinkers who have inspired, informed and engaged readers throughout the ages.

Covering a diverse range of subjects that include Health & Science, Eastern Philosophy, Mythology & Sacred Texts, Philosophy & Spirituality, and Business & Economics these newly revitalized treasures are now available to contemporary readers.

About the Author

Lafacdio Hearn was Greek-born, but after working as a journalist in New Orleans, he moved to Japan, where he took on the name Koizumi Yagumo.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Cosimo Classics (June 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596050152
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596050150
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,584,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Kwaidan" is Hearn's most famous book, and justifiably so. It is the least academic of his works, collecting together some of Japan's core ghost and monster stories into one slim volume. Much like the Brothers Grimm, Hearn did not actually create these stories but rather compiled them and put them into written form for the first time, learning them from folk tales and storytellers.

Along with famous, "Kwaidan" is Hearn's most influential book. "The Story of Mimi-nashi Hoichi" is as well-known in Japan as "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is in the United States. The "Yuki Onna" has made it into a few films, including Kurosawa's "Dreams" and the filmed version of this book, "Kwaidan."

The stories themselves are of excellent quality, ranging from spooky ghost tales to humorous tales of wandering monks encountering monsters. Each story ranges from 5-15 pages long.

Along with the stories are three insect studies, the likes of which can be found in all Hearn books. These are excellent academic studies of insects in traditional Japanese folk lore, including children's songs and haiku poetry involving insects.

Included are:

The story of Mimi-nashi Hoichi

Oshidori

The story of O-Tei

Ubazakura

Diplomacy

Of a mirror and a bell

Jikininki

Mujina

Rokuro-kubi

A dead secret

Yuki-Onna

The story of Aoyagi

Jiu-Roku-Zakura

The dream of Akinosuke

Riki-Baba

Hi-Mawari

Horai

Insect Studies -

Butterfiles

Mosquitos

Ants
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mark J. Moore on February 23, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a very readable series of very short stories

of Japan, followed in the latter part of the book by some

reflections on the part of the author, a Westerner living in

Japan one hundred years ago. It is of interest to read of

such cultural diversity, mythology and relgious views.

The author's book, IN GHOSTLY JAPAN, was a much better collection of Japanese lore, in that the stories were longer

and lent themselves to greater character development and

complexity. Nevertheless, I know of no other author who translates Japanese myths, and both books are worthwhile.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This collection of 17 old stories from Japan was collected and translated by a well-known ethnographer, and first published in English in 1904. The tales are old folk stories (urban legends if you will) mostly dealing with ghosts and the spirit world. Many feature the theme of a spirit who takes a human form to disguise their true nature. Another common theme concerns the uneasy spirit who must be appeased in some form. They are fairly charming old-fashioned stories, which vary considerably in length. The final three sections ("Butterflies," "Mosquitoes," "Ants") are more like meditations on the three subjects and don't really fit into the ghost story theme of the rest of the book. Four of the tales were made into an excellent Japanese movie in 1964.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Baker on October 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Kwaidan is a beautiful selection of Japanese ghost stories; some of them are horrifying, some of them are touching, and all of them provide an intricate look into the many subtleties that make up the Japanese culture. I am greatly enjoyed each and every story in this book, and each of them I enjoyed for different reasons. Some of the stories were translations of old Japanese texts wheras, for others, this book was the first place they were ever written. The author heard them while traveling through small-town Japan and enjoyed them so much that he transcribed them. Because of this, it is somewhat difficult to write a real review. The stories are not his; they aren't even retellings, but the author does an amazing job of transcribing/translating them and making them his own. Obviously, some things are lost in translation, but the author did a great job of minimalizing this loss, and I really feel like I got the full effect of what was originally being said.

At the end of this book, there was a brief study of insects in relation to Japanese culture which I found absolutely FASCINATING. I found the sections on ants and butterflies to be especially enjoyable (though I should perhaps note that I am slightly obsessed with ants). The chosen poems and texts along with the author's observations and commentary gave me great insight as to the roles that insects played (and insects are VERY prominent in Japan) in ancient Japan.

I GREATLY enjoyed this book (and learned a lot!), and, for the first time in a very long time, I found myself so enraptured that I couldn't stop myself from staying up into the wee hours of the morning reading. I highly recommend this selection of stories to anyone who is even remotely interested in Japanese culture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adam Mann on April 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
Kwaidan delivers chilling stories as well as eerie insight into the fantasy world of Japan. Lafcadio Hearn, who Tuttle Publishing claimed was "almost as Japanese as Haiku" provides an in depth look at the stories which he heard first hand in Japan; some of the stories have been part of the Japanese cannon for centuries deriving from Chinese tales, while others were created more recently. Hearn is careful to preface the stories with the history available and provides the reader with both an entertaining and educational reading experience.

Highly recommended for those studying Japanese culture, "pop" culture, or history. A great read for any otaku!
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