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In the Footsteps of Lafcadio Hearn

With Koizumi Bon, the, great grandson of Lafcadio Hearn,i n the former home of Lafcadio Hearn

During this year’s obon holiday, I travelled to Matsue with my family to explore the sites of the historic castle town which was once home to Lafcadio Hearn. As the writings of Lacadio Hearn were the inspiration for my own book, Ghostly Tales of Japan, I had long wanted to visit the town. We were very fortunate to be able to meet Lafcadio Hearn’s great grandson, Bon Kozumi, who, along with his wife Shoko, kindly gave us a guided tour of the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum and the former residence of Hearn. Both Bon, Director of the museum, and Shoko, Coordinator and Planner of the museum, work tirelessly to promote the legacy of Lafacadio Hearn, known here in Japan by his Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo, and have an encyclopedic knowledge of his life and work. The museum is a wonderful tribute not only to Hearn, but lso to his wife, Setsu, his closet collaborator. Although often pushed to the sidelines and portrayed merely as a loyal wife, Setsu deserves far more credit for her contribution to Hearn’s writing. She played a key role in teaching her husband the legends, folklore and ghost stories which he famously wrote about in books such as In Ghostly Japan and Kwaidan. Her own book, Reminiscences of Lafcadio Hearn, is a delightfully written insight into their life together.

The former residence of Lafcadio Hearn

Walking the same streets that Lafcadio Hearn once trod and seeing with our own eyes the sights which he so vividly described in his writing was quite an experience. Our stay in the quiet town also provided a very welcome refreshing break from the overcrowded concrete jungle of Tokyo. Alas, it proved too short to take in all of the sites which we had planned to see, before we had to move on to the second part of our trip, which saw us visit Sakaiminato, the hometown of reknowned maga artist Mizuki Shigeru. We are already thinking of a longer return visit to Matsue. Meanwhile, I am busy writing some new ghostly tales of Japan inspired by our visit to this atmospheric castle town.

One of the beautiful gardens in the former home of Lafcadio Hearn

Matsue Castle

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