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Add to cart. Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information A blind musician with amazing talent is called upon to perform for the dead. Faceless creatures haunt an unwary traveler. A beautiful woman the personification of winter at its cruelest ruthlessly kills unsuspecting mortals. These and 17 other chilling supernatural tales based on legends, myths, and beliefs of ancient Japan represent the very best of Lafcadio Hearn's literary style.

They are also a culmination of his lifelong interest in the endlessly fascinating customs and tales of the country where he spent the last fourteen years of his life, translating into English the atmospheric stories he so avidly collected. Teeming with undead samurais, man-eating goblins, and other terrifying demons, these 20 classic ghost stories inspired the Oscar-nominated film of the same name.

Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Show More Show Less. Any Condition Any Condition. See all 5. Compare similar products. You Are Viewing. Trending Price New. No ratings or reviews yet. Be the first to write a review. Me too you have killed -for I will not live without my husband! Only to tell you this I came. Now t slee alone in the shadow of the rshes of Aknum-ah! But to-morrow, when you go to Akanuma, you wil see-you will see.

When Sonjo awoke in the morning, this dream remained so vivid in his mind that he was greatly troubled. He remembered the words: -"But to-morrow, when you go to Akanuma, you will see-you will see. So he went to Akanuma; and there, when he came to the river-bank, he saw the female oshiori swimming alone.

In the same moment the bird perceived Sonja; but, instead of trying to escape, she swam straight toward him, looking at him the while in a strange fxed way. Then, with her beak, she suddnly tore open her own body, and died before the hunter's eyes. Sonja shaved his head, and became a priest. IThere is a pathetic double meaning in the third verse; for the syllables com posing the proper name Aknuma "Red Marsh" may also be read as aknu-m, signifying "the time of our inseparable or delightful relation".

So the poem can also be thus rendered: -"When the day began to fail, I had invited him to accompany me. Now, after the time of that happy relation, what misery for the one who must slumber alone in the shadow of the rushes I "-The mak is a sort of a large rush, used for making baskets. Nagao was the son of a physician, and was educated for his father's profession.

At an early age he had been betrothed to a girl called O-Tei, the daughter of one of his father's friends; and both families had agreed that the wedding should take place as soon as Nagao had fnished his studies. But the health of O-Tei proved to be weak; and in her ffteenth year she was attacked by a fatal consumption. When she became aware that she must die, she sent for Nagao to bid him farewell. As he knelt at her bedside, she said to him: "Nagao-Sara, my betrothed, we were promised to each other from the time of our childhood; and we were to have been married at the end of this year.

But now I am going to die-the gods know what is best for us. If I were able to live for some years longer, I could only continue to be a cause of trouble and grief to others. With this frail body, I could not be a good wife; and therefore even to wish to live, for your sake, would be a very selfsh wish.

I am quite resigned to die; and I want you to promise that you wil not grieve. Besides, I want to tell you that I think we shall meet again. I believe that we are destined to meet again in this world although I shall be buried to-morrow. She continued, in her gende, dreamy voice: "Yes, I mean in this world-in your own present life, Nagao-Sara. Providing, indeed, that you wish it. Only, for this thing to happen, I must again be born a girl, and grow up to womanhood. So you would have to wait.

Fifteen -sixteen years: that is a long time. But, my promised husband, you are now only nineteen years old. Eager to soothe her dying moments, he answered tenderly: "To wait for you, my betrothed, were no less a joy than a duty. We are pledged to each other for the time of seven existences. But I am sure very, very sure-that, if you be not unwilling to receive me, I shall be able to come back to you.

Remember these words of mine. She ceased to speak; and her eyes closed. She was dead. He had a mortuary tablet made, inscribed with her zkumyo; 1 and he placed the tablet in his ltn,2 and every day set oferings before it. He thought a great deal about the strange things that O-Tei had said to him just before her death; IThe Buddhist term zokm y o "profane name" signifes the personal name, borne during lif, in contradistinction to the kim y o "sila-name" or hom y o "Law-name" given after death -religious posthumous appellations inscribed upon the tomb, and upon the mortuary tablet in the parish-temple.

This written promise he sealed with his seal, and placed in the btn beside the mortuary tablet of O-Tei. Nevertheless, as Nagao was an only son, it was necessary that he should marry. He soon found himself obliged to yield to the wishes of his family, and to accept a wife of his father's choosing.

After his marriage he continued to set oferings be fore the tablet of O-Tei; and he never failed to remember her with afection. But by degrees her image became dim in his memory-like a dream that is hard to recall. And the years went by. During those years many misfortunes came upon him. He lost his parents by death, -then his wife and his only child. So that he found himself alone in the world. He abandoned his desolate home, and set out upon a long journey in the hope of forgetting his sorrows.

One day, in the course of his travels, he arrived at Ikao-a mountain-village still famed for its thermal springs, and for the beautiful scenery of its neighborhood. In the village-inn at which he stopped, a young girl came to wait upon him; and, at the frst sight of her face, he felt his heart leap as it had never leaped before. So strangely did she resemble O-Tei that he pinched himself to make sure that he was not dreaming.

As she went and came -bringing fre and food, or arranging the cham ber of the guest-her every attitude and motion revived in him some gracious memory of the girl to whom he had been pledged in his youth. He spoke to her; and she responded in a soft, clear voice of which the sweetness saddened him with a sadness of other days. Then, in great wonder, he questioned her, saying: "Elder Sister, so much do you look like a person whom I knew long ago, that I was startled when you frst entered this room.

Pardon me, therefore, for asking what is your native place, and what is your name? Seventeen years ago, I died in Niigata: then you made in writing a promise to marry me if ever I could come back to this world in the body of a woman -and you. And there fore I came back. As she uttered these last words, she fell unconscious. Nagao married her; and the marriage was a happy one. But at no time afterward could she remember what she had told him in answer to his question at Ikao: neither could she remember anything of her previous existence.

The recollection of the former birth -mysteriously kindled in the moment of that meeting-had again become obscured, and so thereafter remained. This Tokubei was the richest person in the district, and the H or headman, of the. In most matters he was fortunate; but he reached the age of forty without knowing the happiness of becoming a father. Therefore he and his wife, in the afiction of their childlessness, addressed many prayers to the divinity Fudo Myo 0, who had a famous temple, called Saihoji, in Asamimura.

At last their prayers were heard: the wife of Tokubei gave birth to a daughter. The child was very pretty; and she received the name of Tsuyu. As the mother's milk was defcient, a mik nurse, called O-Sode, was hired for the little one. O-Tsuyu grew up to be a very beautiful girl; but at the age of ffteen she fell sick, and the doctors thought that she was going to die. In that time the nurse O-Sode, who loved 0-Tsuyu with a real mother's love, went to the temple Saihoji, and fervently prayed to Fudo-Sama on behalf of the girl.

Every day, for twenty-one days, she went to the temple and prayed; and at the end of that time, O-Tsuyu suddenly and completely re covered. Then there was great rejoicing in the house of Tokubei; and he gave a feast to all his friends in celebration of the happy event. But on the night of the feast the nurse O-Sode was 2 5 KWAID AN suddenly taken il; and on the following morning, the doctor, who had been summoned to attend her, announced that she was dying. Then the family, in great sorrow, gathered about her bed, to bid her farewell. But she said to them: "It is time that I should tell you something which you do not know.

My prayer has been heard. I besought Fud6-Sama that I might be permitted to die in the place of O-Tsuyu; and this great favor has been granted me. Therefore you must not grieve about my death. But I have one request to make. I promised Fud6-Sama that I would have a cherry-tree planted in the garden of Saih6ji, for a thank-ofering and a commemora tion. Now I shall not be able myself to plant the tree there: so I must beg that you will fulfll that vow for me. Good-bye, dear friends; and remember that I was happy to die for 0- Tsuyu's sake.

The tree grew and fourished; and on the sixteenth day of the second month of the following year the anniversary of O-Sode's death -it blossomed in a wonderful way. So it continued to blossom for two hundred and ffty-four years-always upon the sixteenth day of the second month and its fowers, pink and white, were like the nipples of a woman's breast, bedewed with milk.

And the people called it Ubazkura, the Cherry-tree of the Milk-Nurse. So the man was taken there, and made to kneel down in a wide sanded space crossed by a line of tbi-ishi, or stepping-stones, such as you may still see in Japanese landscape-gardens. His arms were bound behind him. Retainers brought water in buckets, and rice-bags flled with pebbles; and they packed the rice-bags round the kneeling man -so wedging him in that he could not move. The master came, and observed the arrangements. He found them satisfactory, and made no remarks.

Suddenly the condemned may cried out to him: "Honored Sir, the fault for which I have been doomed I did not wittingly commit. It was only my very great stupidity which caused the fault. Having been born stupid, by reason of my Karma, I could not always help making mistakes. But to kill a man for being stupid is wrong-and that wrong will be re paid. So surely as you kill me, so surely shall I be avenged-out of the resentment that you provoke will come the vengeance; and evil will be rendered for evil.

If any person be kille d while feeling strong resentment, the ghost of that person will be able to take vengeance upon the killer. This the samurai knew. He replied very gently,-almost caressingly: "We shall allow you to frighten us as much as you please after you are dead. Will you try to give some sign of your great resentment-after your head has been cut oI" "Assuredly I will, " answered the man.

Directy in front of you there is a stepping-stone. After your head has been cut of, try to bite the stepping-stone. If your angry ghost can help you to do that, some of us may be frightened. Will you try to bite the stone? Heavily toward the stepping-stone it rolled: then, suddenly bounding, it caught the upper edge of the stone between its teeth, clung desperately for a moment, and dropped inert. None spoke; but the retainers stared in horror at their master. He seemed to be quite unconcerned. He merely held out his sword to the nearest attendant, who, with a wooden dipper, poured water over the blade from haft to point, and then carefully wiped the steel several times with sheets of soft paper.

And thus ended the ceremonial part of the incident. For months thereafter, the retainers and the domestics lived in ceaseless fear of ghostly visitation. None of them doubted that the promised vengeance would come; and their constant terror caused them to hear and to see much that did not exist. They became afraid of the sound of the wind in the bamboos afraid even of the stirring of shadows in the garden.

At last, after taking counsel together, they decided to petition their master to have a Segaki-service performed on behalf of the vengeful spirit. But in this case there is nothing to fear. He died with the set purpose of biting the. All the rest he must have forgotten. So you need not feel any further anxiety about the matter.

Nothing at all happened. But afterward she much regretted her mirror. She remembered things that her mother had told her about it; and she remembered that it had belonged, not only to her mother but to her mother's mother and grand mother; and she remembered some happy smiles which it had refected. Of course, if she could have ofered the priests a certain sum of money in place of the mirror, she could have asked them to give back her heirloom.

But she had not the money necessary. Whenever she went to the temple, she saw her mirror lying in the court-yard, behind a railing, among hundreds of other mirrors heaped there together. She longed for some chance to steal the mirror, and hide it -that she might thereafter treasure it always. But the chance did not come; and she became very unhappy -felt as if she had foolishly given away a part of her life. She thought about the old saying that a mirror is the Soul of a Woman a saying mystically expressed, by the Chinese character for Soul , upon the backs of many bronze mirrors -and she feared that it was true in weirder ways than she had before imagined.

But she could not dare to speak of her pain to anybody. Now, when all the mirrors contributed for the Mugenyama bell had been sent to the foundry, the bell-founders discovered that there was one mirror among them which would not melt. Agai and again they tried to melt it; but it resisted all their eforts.

Evidently the woman who had gien that mirror to the temple must have regretted the giving. She had not presented her ofering with all her heart; and therefore her selfsh soul, remaiIing attached to the mirror, kept it hard and cold in the midst of the furnace. Of course everybody heard of the matter, and everybody soon knew whose mirror it was that would not melt. And be cause of this public exposure of her secret fault, the poor woman became very much ashamed and very angry. And as she could not bear the shame, she drowned herself, after having written a farewell letter containing these words: "When I am dead, it will not be difcult to melt the miror and to cast the bell.

But, to the person who breaks tht bell b ringing it, great wealth will be given b the ghost of me. After the dead woman' s mirror had been melted, and the bell had been suc cessfully cast, people remembered the words of that letter. With all their might and main they swung the ringing beam; but the bell proved to be a good bell , and it bravely withstood their assaults. Nevertheless, the people were not easily discouraged.

Day after day, at all hours, they continued to ring the bell furiously -caring nothing whatever for the protests of the priests. So the ringing became an afiction; and the priests could not endure it; and they got rid of the bell by rolling it down the hill into a swamp. The swamp was deep, and swallowed it up -and that was the end of the bell. Only its legend remains; and in that legend it is called the Mugen-Kane, or Bell of Mugen.

The word itself cannot be adequately rendered by any English word; for it is used in rela tion to many kinds of mimetic magic, as well as in relation to the performance of many religious acts of faith. Common meanings of nazorae, according to dictionaries, are "to imi tate", "to compare", "to liken" ; but the esoteric meaning is t substitute, in imagination, one object or action for another, so as to bring about some magial or mirculous result. For example: you cannot aford to build a Buddhist tem ple; but you can easily lay a pebble before the image of the Buddha, with the same pious feeling that would prompt you to build a temple if you were rich enough to build one.

The merit of so ofering the pebble becomes equal, or almost equal, to the merit of erecting a temple You cannot read the six thousand seven hundred and seventy-one volumes of the Bud dhist texts; but you can make a revolving library, containing them, turn round, by pushing it like a windlass.

And if you push with an earnest wish that you could read the six thousand seven hundred and seventy-one volumes, you will acquire the same merit as the reading of them would enable you to gain. The magical meanings could not all be explained without a great variety of examples; but, for present purposes, the following will serve. If you should make a little man of straw, for the same reason that Sister Helen made a little man of wax and nail it, with nails not less than fve inches long, to some tree in a temple-grove at the Hour of the Ox -and if the person, imaginatively represented by that little straw man, should die thereafter in fearful agony -that would illustrate one signifca tion of nazorai Or, let us suppose that a robber has entered your house during the night and carried away your valuables.

If you can discover the footprints of that robber in your garden, and then prompty bur a very large moxa on each of them, the soles of the feet of the robber wil become infamed, and will allow him no rest until he returns, of his own accord, to put himself at your mercy. That is another kind of mimetic magic expressed by the term nzori.

And a third kind is ilustrated by various legends of the Mugen-Kane. But persons who regretted this loss of opportunity would strike and break objects imaginatively substituted for the bell thus hoping to please the spirit of the owner of the mirror that had made so much trouble. One of these persons was a woman called Umegae-famed in Japanese legend because of her rela tion to Kajiwara Kagesue, a warrior of the Heike clan.

While the pair were traveling together, Kajiwara one day found him self in great straits for want of money; and Umegae, remember ing the tradition of the Bell of Mugen, took a basin of bronze, and, mentally representing it to be the bell, beat upon it until she broke it-crying out, at the same time, for three hundred pieces of gold. Afterward a song was made about Umegae's basin of bronze; and that song is sung by dancing girls even to this day: Umegae no chozubachi tataite O-kane ga dhu naraba, Mina San mi-uke wo Sore tanomimasu.

Among these folk was a dissolute farmer who lived near Mugenyama, on the bank of the Oigawa. Having wasted his substance in riotous living, this farmer made for himself, out of the mud in his garden, a clay model of the Mugen-Kane; and he beat the clay-bell, and broke it-crying out the while for great wealth. Then, out of the ground before him, rose up the fgure of a white-robed woman, with long, loose-fowing hair, holding a covered jar. And the woman said: "I have come to answer your fervent prayer as it deserves to be answered. Take, therefore, this jar.

Into his house the happy man rushed, to tell his wife the good news. He set down in front of her the covered jar -which was heavy-and they opened it together.

AYAKASHI Japanese Classic Horror Story

And they found that it was flled, up to the very brim, with But, no! Jikininki ]i kinin k i Once, when Muso Kokushi, a priest of the Zen sect, was journeying alone through the province of Mino, he lost his way in a mountain-district where there was nobody to direct him. For a long time he wandered about helplessly; and he was beginning to despair of fnding shelter for the night, when he perceived, on the top of a hill lighted by the last rays of the sun, one of those litde hermitages, called a"it, which are built for solitary priests. It seemed to be in a ruinous condition; but he hastened to it eagerly, and found that it was inhabited by an aged priest, from whom he begged the favor of a night's lodging.

This the old man harshly refused; but he directed Muso to a certain hamlet, in a valley adjoining, where lodging and food could be obtained. Muso found his way to the hamlet, which consisted of less than a dozen farm-cottages; and he was kindly received at the dwelling of the headman. Forty or ffty persons were assembled in the principal apartment, at the moment of Muso's arrival; but he was shown into a small separate room, where he was prompdy supplied with food and bedding.

Being very tired, he lay down to rest at an early hour; but a litde before mid night he was roused from sleep by a sound of loud weeping in the next apartment. Presendy the sliding-screens were gendy pushed apart; and a young man, carrying a lighted lantern, entered the room, respectfully saluted him, and said: "Reverend Sir, it is my painful duty to tell you that I am 43 44 KWAIDAN now the responsible head of this house.

Yesterday I was only the eldest son. But when you came here, tired as you were, we did not wish that you should feel embarrassed in any way: therefore we did not tell you that father had died only a few hours before. The people whom you saw in the next room are the inhabitants of this village: they are all assembled here to pay their last respects to the dead; and now they are going to another village, about three miles of-for, by our custom, no one of us may remain in this village during the night after a death has taken place.

We make the proper oferings and prayers; then we go away, leaving the corpse alone. Strange things always happen in the house where a corpse has thus been left: so we think that it will be better for you to come away with us. We can fnd you good lodging in the other village. But perhaps, as you are a priest, you have no fear of demons or evi spirits; and, if you are not afraid of being left alone with the body, you will be very welcome to the use of this poor house. However, I must tell you that nobody, except a priest, would dare to remain here tonight. But I am sorry that you did not tell me of your father's death when I came; for, though I was a little tired, I certainly was not so tired that I should have found any difculty in doing my duty as a priest.

Had you told me, I could have performed the service before your departure. As it is, I shall perform the service after you have gone away; and I shall stay by the body until morning. I do not know what you mean by your words about the danger of staying here alone; but I am not afraid of ghosts or demons: therefore please do not have any anxiety on my account. Then the other members of the family, and the folk assembled in the adjoining room, having been told of the priest's kind promises, came to thank him-after which the master of the house said: "Now, reverend Sir, much as we regret to leave you alone, JIKININKI 45 we must bid you farewell.

By the rule of our village, none of us can stay here after midnight. We beg, kind Sir, that you will take every care of your honorable body, while we are unable to attend upon you. And if you happen to hear or see anything strange during our absence, please tell us of the matter when we return in the morning. The usual oferings had been set before the corpse; and a small Buddhist lamp-tmyo was burning. The priest recited the service, and performed the funeral ceremonies-after which he entered into meditation. So meditating he remained through several silent hours; and there was no sound in the deserted village.

But, when the hush of the night was at its deepest, there noiselessly entered a Shape, vague and vast; and in the same moment Muso found himself without power to move or speak. He saw that Shape lift the corpse, as with hands, and devour it, more quickly than a cat devours a rat-beginning at the head, and eating everything: the hair and the bones and even the shroud.

And the monstrous Thing, having thus consumed the body, turned to the oferings, and ate them also. Then it went away, as mysteriously as it had come. When the villagers returned next morning, they found the priest awaiting them at the door of the headman's dwelling.

All in turn saluted him; and when they had entered, and looked about the room, no one expressed any surprise at the disap pearance of the dead body and the oferings. But the master of the house said to Muso: "Reverend Sir, you have probably seen unpleasant things during the night: all of us were anxious about you. But now we are very happy to fnd you alive and unharmed.


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Gladly we would have stayed with you, if it had been possible. But the law of our village, as I told you last evening, obliges us to quit our houses after a death has taken place, and to leave the corpse alone. Whenever it is obeyed, we fnd that the corpse and the oferings disappear during our absence. Perhaps you have seen the cause. No person seemed to be surprised by his narration; and the master of the house observed: "What you have told us, reverend Sir, agrees with what has been said about this matter from ancient time.

He refused me lodging, but told me the way here. For the time of many generations there has not been any resident-priest in this neighborhood. But after having bidden them farewell, and obtained all necessary information as to his road, he determined to look again for the hermitage on the hill, and so to ascertain whether he had really been deceived. He found the anit without any difculty; and, this time, its aged occupant invited him to enter. When he had done so, the hermit humbly bowed down before him, exclaiming: -"Ah! I am ashamed! Know, reverend Sir, that I am a jikininki,l-an eater of human fesh.

Have pity upon me, and sufer me to confess the secret fault by which I became reduced to this condition. There was no other priest for many leagues around. So, in that time, the bodies of the mountain-folk who died used to be brought here-sometimes from great distances-in order that I might repeat over them the holy service.

But I repeated the service and performed the rites only as a matter of business I thought only of the food and the clothes that my sacred pro fession enabled me to gain. And because of this selfsh impiety I was reborn, immediately after my death, into the state of a jikininki. Since then I have been obliged to feed upon the corpses of the people who die in this district: every one of them I must devour in the way that you saw last night Now, reverend Sir, let me beseech you to perform a Segaki-service2 for me: help me by your prayers, I entreat you, so that I may be soon able to escape from this horrible state of existence.

No sooner had the hermit uttered this petition than he disappeared; and the hermitage also disappeared at the same instant. And Mus6 Kokushi found himself kneeling alone in the high grass, beside an ancient and moss-grown tomb, of the form called go-rin-ishi,3 which seemed to be the tomb of a priest. The Japanese narrator gives also the Sanscrit term, "1ikshasa"; but this word is quite as vague as jikininki, since there are many kinds of Rikshasas.

Apparently the word jikininki signifes here one of the Baramon-Raset-Gaki-forming the twenty-sixth class of pretas enumerated in the old Buddhist books. For a brief account of such a service, see my japanese Micelany. A funeral monument consisting of fve parts superimposed-each of a diferent form-symbolizing the fve mystic elements: Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth. I do not know why it is called the Slope of the Province of Kii. On one side of this slope you see an ancient moat, deep and very wide, with high green banks rising up to some palace gardens; -and on the other side of the road extend the long and lofty walls of an imperial palace.

Before the era of street lamps and jinrikishas, this neighborhood was very lonesome after dark; and belated pedestrians would go miles out of their way rather than mount the Kii-no-kuni-zaka, alone, after sunset. All because of a Mujina that used to walk there. The last man who saw the Mujina was an old merchant of the Kyobashi quarter, who died about thirty years ago.

This is the story, as he told it: One night, at a late hour, he was hurrying up the Kii-no kuni-zaka, when he perceived a woman crouching by the moat, all alone, and weeping bitterly. Fearing that she intended to drown herself, he stopped to ofer her any assistance or consola tion in his power.

She appeared to be a slight and graceful per son, handsomely dressed; and her hair was arranged like that of a young girl of good family. Tell me what the trouble is; and if there be any way to help you, I shall be glad to help you. But she continued to weep-hiding her face from him with one of her long sleeves. This is no place for a young lady at night!

Do not cry, I implore you! He laid his hand lightly upon her shoulder, and pleaded: -"O-jochi! Listen to me, just for one little moment! Then that O-jochi turned round, and dropped her sleeve, and stroked her face with her hand;-and the man saw that she had no eyes or nose or mouth,-and he screamed and ran away. Up Kii-no-kuni-zaka he ran and ran; and all was black and empty before him. On and on he ran, never daring to look back; and at last he saw a lantern, so far away that it looked like the gleam of a frefy; and he made for it. It proved to be only the lantern of an itinerant soba-seller,!

Anybody hurt you? I saw a woman-by the moat-and she showed me I cannot tell you what she showed me! Was it anything like thi that she showed you? And, simultaneously, the light went out. ISor is a preparation of buckwheat, somewhat resembling vermicelli. This Isogai had inherited, from many war like ancestors, a natural aptitude for military exercises, and extraordinary strength.

While yet a boy he had surpassed his teachers in the art of swordsmanship, in archery, and in the use of the spear, and had displayed all the capacities of a daring and skilful soldier. Afterwards, in the time of the Eiky61 war, he so distinguished himself that high honors were bestowed upon him. But when the house of Kikuji came to ruin, Isogai found himself without a master. He might then easily have obtained service under another daimy6; but as he had never sought dis tinction for his own sake alone, and as his heart remained true to his former lord, he preferred to give up the world.

So he cut of his hair, and became a traveling priest -taking the Buddhist name of Kwairy6. But always, under the koromo 2 of the priest, Kwairy6 kept warm within him the heart of the samurai. As in other years he had laughed at peril, so now also he scorned danger; and in all weathers and all seasons he journeyed to preach the good Law in places where no other priest would have dared to go. For that age was an age of violence and disorder; and upon the highways 'The period of Eikyo lasted from to l.

In the course of his frst long journey, Kwairyo had occa sion to visit the province of Kai. One evening, as he was travel ing through the mountains of that province, darkness overtook him in a very lonesome district, leagues away from any village. So he resigned himself to pass the night under the stars; and having found a suitable grassy spot, by the roadside, he lay down there, and prepared to sleep. He had always welcomed discomfort; and even a bare rock was for him a good bed, when nothing better could be found, and the root of a pine-tree an excellent pillow.

His body was like iron; and he never troubled himself about dews or rain or frost or snow. Scarcely had he lain down when a man came along the road, carrying an axe and a great bundle of chopped wood. The wood cutter halted on seeing Kwairyo lying down, and, after a moment of silent observation, said to him in a tone of great surprise: "What kind of a man can you be, good Sir, that you dare to lie down alone in such a place as this?

There are haunters about here - many of them. Are you not afraid of Hairy Things? And I am not in the least afraid of Hairy Things -if you mean goblin-foxes, or goblin-badgers, or any creatures of that kind. As for lonesome places, I like them: they are suitable for meditation. I am accustomed to sleeping in the open air: and I have learned never to be anxious about my life. This place has a bad name -a very bad name. But, as the proverb has it, Kunshi a y a-uki ni chika y orzu [The superior man does not needlessly expose him self to peril' ]; and I must assure you, Sir, that it is very dangerous to sleep here.

Therefore, although my house is only a wretched thatched hut, let me beg of you to come home with me at once. The woodcutter guided him along a narrow path, leading up from the main road through mountain-forest. It was a rough and dangerous path sometimes skirting precipices -sometimes ofering nothing but a network of slippery roots for the foot to rest upon, -some times winding over or between masses of jagged rock. But at last Kwairyo found himself upon a cleared space at the top of a hill , with a full moon shining overhead; and he saw before him a small thatched cottage, cheerfully lighted from within.

The woodcutter led him to a shed at the back of the house, whither water. Beyond the shed was a vegetable garden, and a grove of cedars and bamboos; and beyond the trees appeared- 1 ' e glim mer of a cascade, pouring from some loftier height, and s. They bowed low to the priest, and greeted him in the most respectful manner. Kwairyo wondered that persons so poor, and dwelling in such a solitude, should be aware of the polite forms of greeting.

Perhaps you formerly be longed to one of the upper classes? The TO is usually a square shallow cavity, lined with metal and half-flled with ashes, in which charcoal is lighted. Th o ugh now living as you fnd me, I was once a person of some distinction. My story is the story of a ruined life-ruined by my own fault. I used to be in the service of a daimyo; and my rank in that service was not in considerable. But I loved women and wine too well; and under the infuence of passion I acted wickedly.

My selfshness brought about the ruin of our house, and caused the death of many persons. Retribution followed me; and 1 long remaind a fugi tive in the land. Now I often pray that I may be able to make some atonement for the evil which I did, and to reestablish the ancestral home. But I fear that I shall never fnd any way of so doing.

Nevertheless, I try to overcome the karma of my errors by sincere repentance, and by helping, as far as I can, those who are unfortunate. In the holy sutras it is written that those strongest in wrong-doing can become, by power of good resolve, the strongest in right-doing. I do not doubt that you have a good heart; and I hope that better fortune wil come to you. To night I shall recite the sutras for your sake, and pray that you may obtain the force to overcome the karma of any past errors. Then all went to sleep except the priest, who began to read the sutras by the light of a paper lantern.

Until a late hour he continued to read and pray: then he opened a window in his litte sleeping-room, to tke a last look at the landscape before lying down. The night was beauti ful : there was no cloud in the sky; there was no wind; and the strong moonlight threw down sharp black shadows of foliage, and glittered on the dews of the garden.

Shrillings of crickets and bell-insects made a musical tumult; and the sound of the neighboring cascade deepened with the night. Kwairyo felt thirsty as he listened to the noise of the water; and, remember ing the bamboo aqueduct at the rear of the house, he thought ROKURO-KUBI 5 9 t hat he could go there and get a drink without disturbing the sleeping household.

Very gently he pushed apart the sliding screens that separated his room from the main apartment; and he saw, by the light of the lantern, fve recumbent bodies without heads! For one instant he stood bewildered, -imagining a crime. But in another moment he perceived that there was no blood, and that the headless necks did not look as if they had been cut. Then he thought to himself: "Either this is an illusion made by goblins, or I have been lured into the dwelling of a Rokuro Kubi.

In the book Soshinki it is written that if one fnd the body of a Rokuro-Kubi without its head, and remove the body to another place, the head will never be able to join itself again to the neck. And the book further says that when the head comes back and fnds that its body has been moved, it will strike itself upon the foor three times -bounding like a ball -and will pant as in great fear, and presently die.

Now, if these be Rokuro Kubi, they mean me no good -so I shall be justifed in follow ing the instructions of the book. He seized the body of the arji by the feet, pulled it to the window, and pushed it out. Then he went to the back-door, which he found barred; and he surmised that the heads had made their exit through the smoke-hole in the roof, which had been left open.

Genty unbarring the door, he made his way to the garden, and proceeded with all possible caution to the grove beyond it. He heard voices talking in the grove; and he went in the direction of the voices -stealing from shadow to shadow, until he reached a good hiding-place. Then, from behind a trunk, he caught sight of the heads -all fve of them-fitting about, and chatting as they fitted.

They were eating worms and insects which they found on the ground or among the trees. Presently the head of the arji stopped eating and said: "Ah, the traveling priest who came to-night! When we shall have eaten him, our bellies will be well flled. I was foolish to talk to him as I did; -it only set him to reciting the sutras on behalf of my soul! To go near him while he is reciting would be difcult; and we cannot touch him so long as he is praying.

Some one of you go to the house and see what the fellow is doing. After a few minutes it came back, and cried out huskily, in a tone of great alarm: "That traveling priest is not in the house; he is gone! But that is not the worst of the matter. He has taken the body of our arji; and I do not know where he has put it. Then a cry burst from its lips; and -weeping tears of rage -it exclaimed: "Since my body has been moved, to rejoin it is not possibl e! Then I must die! And all through the work of that priest! Before I die I will get at that priest! And there he i-behind that tree! See him! In the same moment the head of the arji, followed by the other four heads, sprang at Kwairyo.

But the strong priest had already armed himself by plucking up a young tree; and with that tree he struck the heads as they came -knocking them from him with tremendous blows. Four of them fed away. But the head of the arji, though battered again and again, desperately continued to bound at the priest, and at last caught him by the left sleeve of his robe. Kwairyo, however, as quickly gripped the head by its topknot, and repeatedly struck it.

It did not re lease its hold; but it uttered a long moan, and thereafter ceased to struggle. It was dead. But its teeth still held the sleeve; and, for all his great strength, Kwairyo could not force open the jaws. With the head still hanging to his sleeve h e went back to the house, and there caught sight of the other four Rokuro Kubi squatting together, with their bruised and bleeding heads reunited to their bodies.

But when they perceived him at the back-door all screamed, "The priest! He looked at the head clinging to his sleeve -its face all fouled with blood and foam and clay; and he laughed aloud as he thought to himself: "What a miage! Right on he journeyed, until he came to Suwa in Shinano; and into the main street of Suwa he solemnly strode, with the head dangling at his elbow.

Then women fainted, and children screamed and ran away; and there was a great crowding and clamoring until the trite as the police of those days were called seized the priest, and took him to jail. For they supposed the head to be the head of a murdered man who, in the moment of being killed, had caught the murderer's sleeve in his teeth. As for Kwairyo, he only smiled and said nothing when they ques tioned him.

Kwaidan Ghost Stories & Strange Tales of Old Japan

So, after having passed a night in prison, he was brought before the magistrates of the district. Then he was ordered to explain how he, a priest, had been found with the head of a man fastened to his sleeve, and why he had dared thus shamelessly to parade his crime in the sight of the people. Kwairyo laughed long and loudly at these questions; and then he said: "Sirs, I did not fasten the head to my sleeve: it fastened itself there -much against my will. And I have not committed any crime.

For this is not the head of a man; it is the head of a goblin; and, if I caused the death of the goblin, I did not do so by any shedding of blood, but simply by taking the precautions necessary to assure my own safety. And he proceeded to relate the whole of the adventure -bursting into another hearty laugh as he told of his encounter with the fve heads. But the magistrates did not laugh. They judged him to be a hardened criminal , and his story an insult to their intelligence.

Ordinarily, of course, the miage consists of something produced in the locality to which the journey has been made: this is the point of K wairyo's jest. This aged ofcer had made no remark during the trial ; but, after having heard the opinion of his colleagues, he rose up, and said: "Let us frst examine the head carefully; for this, I think, has not yet been done. If the priest has spoken truth, the head it self should bear witness for him. Bring the head here!

The old man turned it round and round, carefully examined it, and discovered, on the nape of its neck, several strange red characters. He called the attention of his colleagues to these, and also bade them observe that the edges of the neck nowhere presented the appearance of having been cut by any weapon.


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  8. On the contrary, the line of severance was smooth as the line at which a falling leaf detaches itself from the stem. Then said the elder: "I am quite sure that the priest told us nothing but the truth. This is the head of a Rokuro-Kubi. In the book Nan ho-i-bt-shi it is written that certain red characters can always be found upon the nape of the neck of a real Rokuro-Kubi. There are the characters: you can see for yourselves that they have not been painted. Moreover, it is well known that such goblins have been dwelling in the mountains of the province of Kai from very ancient time. But you, Sir, " he exclaimed, turning to Kwairyo -"what sort of sturdy priest may you be?

    Certainly you have given proof of a courage that few priests possess; and you have the air of a soldier rather than of a priest.

    ISBN 10: 0486450945

    Perhaps you once belonged to the samurai-class? My name then was Isogai Heidazaemon Taketsura, of Kyushu: there may be some among you who remember it. With honor they escorted him to the residence of the daimyo, who welcomed him, and feasted him, and made him a handsome present before allow ing him to depart. When Kwairyo left Suwa, he was as happy as any priest is permitted to be in this transitory world.

    Kwaidan Ghost Stories and Strange Tales of Old Japan Dover Books on Literature Amp Drama

    As for the head, he took it with him, -jocosely insisting that he intended it for a miyage. And now it only remains to tell what became of the head. A day or two after leaving Suwa, Kwairyo met with a robber, who stopped him in a lonesome place, and bade him strip. Kwairyo at once removed his koromo, and ofered it to the rob ber, who then frst perceived what was hanging to the sleeve.

    Though brave, the highwayman was startled: he dropped the garment, and sprang back. Why, you are a worse man than I am! It is true that I have killed people; but I never walked about with anybody' s head fastened to my sleeve.. Well , Sir priest, I suppose we are of the same calling; and I must say that I admire you! Now that head would be of use to me: I could frighten people with it. Will you sell it?

    You can have my robe in exchange for your koromo; and I wil give you fve ryo for the head. It is a goblin's head. So, if you buy it, and have any trouble in conse quence, please to remember that you were not deceived by me. But I am really in earnest. Here is my robe; and here is the money -and let me have the head.

    Shop now and earn 2 points per $1

    What is the use of joking? The only joke -if there be any joke at all -is that you are fool enough to pay good money for a goblin's head. But, reaching the neighborhood of Suwa, he there learned the real history of the head; and he then became afraid that the spirit of the Rokuro-Kubi might give him trouble. So he made up his mind to. He found his way to the lonely cottage in the mountains of Kai; but nobody was there, and he could not discover the body. Therefore he buried the head by itself, in the grove behind the cottage; and he had a tombstone set up over the grave; and he caused a Segaki-service to be performed on behalf of the spirit of the Rokuro-Kubi.

    And that tombstone -known as the Tombstone of the Rokuro-Kubi -may be seen at least so the Japanese story-teller declares even unto this day. He had a daughter called O-Sono. As she was very clever and pretty, he thought it would be a pity to let her grow up with only such teaching as the country-teachers could give her: so he sent her, in care of some trusty attendants, to Kyoto, that she might be trained in the polite accomplishments taught to the ladies of the capital. After she had thus been educated, she was married to a friend of her father's family-a merchant named Nagaraya-and she lived happily with him for nearly four years.

    They had one child-a boy. But O-Sono fell ill and died in the fourth year after her marriage. On the night after the funeral of O-Sono, her little son said that his mamma had come back, and was in the room up stairs. She had smiled at him, but would not talk to him: so he became afraid, and ran away. Then some of the family went upstairs to the room which had been O-Sono' s; and they were startled to see, by the light of a small lamp which had been kindled before a shrine in that room, the fgure of the dead mother.

    She appeared as if stnding in front of a tn, or chest of drawers, that stil contined her ornaments and her wearing apparel. Her head and shoulders could be very distinctly seen; but from the waist downward the fgure thinned into invisibility -and it was like an imperfect refection of her, and trans parent as a shadow on water.

    Below they consulted together; and the mother of O-Sono's husband said: "A woman is fond of her small things; and O-Sono was much attached to her belongings. Perhaps she has come back to look at them. Many dead persons will do that -unless the things be given to the parish-temple. If we present O-Sono's robes and girdles to the temple, her spirit will probably fnd rest. So on the following morning the drawers were emptied; and all of O-Sono's ornaments and dresses were taken to the temple. But she came back the next night, and looked at the tnsu as before.

    And she came back also on the night following, and the night after that, and every night -and the house became a house of fear. The mother of O-Sono's husband then went to the parish temple, and told the chief priest all that had happened, and asked for ghostly counsel. The temple was a Zen temple; and the head-priest was a learned old man, known as Daigen Osho. He said: "There must be something about which she is anxious, in or near that tnsu. You must give orders that no person shall enter the room while I am watching, unless I call. He remained there alone, read ing the sutras; and nothing appeared until after the Hour of the Rat.

    Then the fgure of O-Sono outined itself in front of the tnsu. Her face had a wistful look; and she kept her eyes fxed upon the tnsu. The priest uttered the holy formula prescribed in such IThe Hour of the Rat Ne-no-Koku , according to the old Japanese method of reckoning time, was the frst hour. It corresponded to the time between our midnight and two o'clock in the morning; for the ancient Japanese hours were each equal to two modern hours.

    Perhaps in that tn there is something about which you have reason to feel anxious. Shall I try to fnd it for you? It was empty. Successively he opened the second, the third, and the fourth drawer; he searched carefully behind them and beneath them; he carefully examined the interior of the chest. He found nothing. But the fgure remained gazing as wistfully as before. Suddenly it occurred to him that there might be something hidden under the paper with which the drawers were lined. He removed the lining of the frst drawer: -nothing! He removed the lining of the second and third drawers: -still nothing.

    But under the lining of the lower most drawer he found -a letter. The shadow of the woman turned toward him, -her faint gaze fxed upon the letter. She bowed before him. Dawn was breaking as the priest descended the stairs, to fnd the family waiting anxiously below.