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A Ghost Story (Kaidan) - 1986

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A Ghost Story (Kaidan) - 1986

A Ghost Story is a very interesting and short animated film based on the literary work of Koizumi Yagumo who wrote Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. The author states in the introduction, written in 1904, that most of the stories in his book are translated from old Japanese texts. This is a useful film to use in class because it introduces students to a particular genre of Japanese folklore, the role of religion, and offers an opportunty to compare Japanese ghost/supernatural tales to that of American authors such as Washington Irving ("The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"). Students could watch and read both A Ghost Story and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for similarities in structure, characters, and plot.
Most interesting, however, is the fact that Koizumi Yagumo was actually born Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904). His life is an interesting study in and of itself and worth investigating. I learned that Hearn actually came to Japan in 1890 to escape "western materialism". Immersing himself in his new homeland, he eventually married a Japanese woman from a traditional Samurai family, became a citizen of Japan, and an ardent student of Japanese culture. A biographical study of his life may be useful to older students to understand that some of the same ideas of East and West that existed in Hearn's time still persist today.