Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn

eBook, 224 pages

English language

Published March 11, 2019 by Princeton University Press.


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4 stars (1 review)

A collection of twenty-eight brilliant and strange stories, inspired by Japanese folk tales and written by renowned Western expatriate Lafcadio Hearn

Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904) was one of the nineteenth century’s best-known writers, his name celebrated alongside those of Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson. Born in Greece and raised in Ireland, Hearn was a true prodigy and world traveler. He worked as a reporter in Cincinnati, New Orleans, and the West Indies before heading to Japan in 1890 on a commission from Harper’s. There, he married a Japanese woman from a samurai family, changed his name to Koizumi Yakumo, and became a Japanese subject. An avid collector of traditional Japanese tales, legends, and myths, Hearn taught literature and wrote his own tales for both Japanese and Western audiences. Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn brings together twenty-eight of Hearn’s strangest and most entertaining stories in one elegant volume.

Hearn’s tales span …

2 editions

Japanese fairy tales as told by an outsider/insider

4 stars

I really enjoyed these spooky fairy tales with mercurial fairy kings, a woman whose soul was a tree, nefarious floating ghost heads, and more. Apparently Hearn collected these tales over his decades settling into a Japanese life, translating and selecting ones he’d thought would be interesting to a Western audience.

I was fascinated by the life of Lafcadio Hearn as described in the introduction. His peripatetic biography was wild, from tiny Greek Island childhood to London pauper, to Midwestern reporter to chronicler of New Orleans backways, and then ultimately settling in Japan. I think I’ll be reading more about him based in this.


  • Japan, fiction
  • Fiction, short stories (single author)