Kwaidan by Lefcadio Hearn

Read: 27 October, 2008

This is a small, thin book with seventeen short stories (some barely more than a page or two, others a little longer) and three “insect studies.” Most of the stories are old supernatural tales, but the author writes from his own experiences sometimes (one short story and two of the insect studies, if memory serves).

It’s a short read and an interesting one. Far from an in-depth look at the Japanese supernatural, these are rather short vignettes that provide a beginner’s taste. Overall, I found them interesting and thought-provoking.

The insect studies are very different. The Butterfly chapter does still discuss Japanese (and Chinese) mythology, but these are mostly put aside for the chapters on Ants and Mosquitoes. For this reason, these studies may be disappointing for readers who are interested solely in mythology and don’t have a taste for idle musings. For my own part, I found them just as interesting as the stories of strange things found in most of the book.

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