Today’s report isn’t about a specific yokai, but rather about one of the principle collectors of yokai folk law for western readers. Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (27 June 1850 – 26 September 1904) born on a Greek island to a Greek mother and an Irish father. Hearn moved to Japan in 1890 on a journalistic assignment and ended up adopting the country and staying on as a teacher and writer based in Matsue on the Western coast.
Although this position lasted only 15 months (to be followed by a succession of other teaching and journalistic jobs) it was maybe the most influential as it was here that he met and married, Koizumi Setsu, from a local samurai family. It was she who would act as an interpreter and guide as Hearn (known in Japan by his naturalised Japanese name, Koizumi Yakumo) began to collect and record traditional Japanese folk tales – many of which had never been written down before.
Tom Waits once claimed he’d ‘seen it all through the yellow windows of the evening train‘, so chance are that along with Emirin’s house he might well have seen this place too as it’s just one stop down the line.
This place got me both curious and cautious as although it looked distinctly run down it was in a very visible location, right by the train tracks, and surrounded by other buildings.
Another house with a story today, I first spotted this place from a train and determined to head back and check it out as soon as possible. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that I got the chance to go back and explore. Even then it ended up taking two visits to go through, figure out and photograph this place.
The first thing I noticed here was how nice the garden must have been. Lanterns dotted the undergrowth, and a stone bridge crossing a dry stream bed that run down to a leaf filled pond. It all seemed quite grand for a regular Japanese house.