San’In Local Ghosts

(Matsue, Shimane)

Koizumi Yakumo, whose real name is Lafcadio Hearn, was born on Greece’s Lefkada island in 1850. Two years after he was born, Hearn moved to Dublin, Ireland, where his father and grandparents lived. Hearn came to dislike the strict Catholic beliefs and culture, and instead found himself attracted to the Celtic traditional culture and entranced by the fairy folktales that his nanny Catherine told him.During his travels around the world, Hearn went to Japan in 1890 and eventually took an English teaching job in Matsue in Shimane Prefecture. It was during this time that he met and married a daughter of the Matsue clan, Koizumi Setsu. Later, Lafcadio became a naturalized citizen and adopted the name, Koizumi Yakumo.

While writing as a journalist in the United States, he covered and listened to many stories and traditions, ranging from depressing to strange and odd. He eventually began writing his own ghost stories and literary works.Among the many ghost stories written by Koizumi, a few that are familiar to Japanese are: “Hoichi the Earless,” ”Rokurokubi,” “Mujina (Faceless Ghost),” and “Snow Woman.”

Around Matsue Castle, there is a memorial museum which is dedicated to Koizumi Yakumo, where you can gain a deeper understanding and learn about Koizumi’s life, history, and literary works. In this memorial museum, you can learn about the multifaceted writer through the exhibitions displaying his works and explanations. The museum also helps to share information about Koizumi with the places that he has a connection with and has visited, as well as with people who are interested learn more about him around the world. In addition to his ghost stories, nearby are places that are known to be spots where local ghost stories originated from: the ghost of a woman is said to exist in the castle tower of Matsue Castle and a human sacrifice was performed at the Matsue Ohashi Bridge consisting of a man being buried alive under the central pillar of the bridge during its construction to appease the spirits of the river. By reading Koizumi Yakumo’s ghost stories and visiting the San’in area, these areas may become casual and cool local ghost spots. You might feel a chill down your spine and goosebumps when visiting these local haunting spots.

Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum (Click here) 

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