Penguin book of Japanese Ghost Stories

– by Lafcardio Hearn, Introduction by Paul Murray.

This book did not scare me, much to my disappointment. I expected some scary stories here, which the book failed at. However, not all hope is lost. This book is more about Lafcardio Hearn, the author of Irish descent who settled in Japan. It’s fascinating to know Japanese culture through his eyes. Like superstitions, beliefs & customs of the culture I did not know about and how the Japanese take their fairytales very seriously. Seriously enough to build a temple in one of their ancient fishing hamlets. They take their beliefs seriously enough to make a third grave in a house where two deaths have happened, in order to prevent the third one.

There’s a lot of passing incidents of Hearn’s life here, and how he tks about the heartbreakingly beautiful tree-spirit, the eternal haunter, and the Rokuro-Kubi – the mildly scary version here that says there’s an actual tombstone of this goblin ghost. Yet, it’s more Hearn this, Hearn that, and Hearn’s POV of Japan. Fascinating, but one does not go to Disneyland to attend seminars on History of the land it was built in. It may sound rude, but it’s a Penguin book and I expected so much more.

I’m not saying that this not a book to read. I may hae even DNF’d it but the whole cultural exploration aspect kept me going through it. The anthology format usually works for me, but I went into this with completely different expectations. So for me, a creepypasta or a reddit nosleep will be a much better option to get into instead of actually spending a small fortune on a basic e-book.

About 30% of the book is all about Hearn’s life story. Takes patience to get to the actual “stories”, even if they’re about the culture and folklores. It’s fascinating to say the least to know about how the Japanese people are so similar to Indians in their approach to Gods, temples belief system rooted in ancient tales.

For those looking for a healthy dose of Japanese culture and it’s detailed nuances, this is for you. Those looking to explore a new land like Hearn, this is definitely for you. But for those those looking for small bites of scary stories, it remains a disappointment in the name of a book titled “ghost stories”. It’s a short book, so it’s not a complete waste of time. You can try it for sure. I’m glad I bought an e-book of this and didn’t spend a small fortune on the physical copy.

Image: Penguin Classics FB 2019

Rating : 2.5/5

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