The sound of the temple bell announces , in the dark of the night, the Hour of the Ox: the hour of spirits and demons, between two and four in the morning. Those who died but do not know peace are coming – a wife jealous of her husband’s mistress, an older brother who failed to fulfill his promise, a young girl who died of unhappy love. The interference of supernatural creatures in people’s lives, the interaction of the world of spirits and demons with Buddhist piety – all this can be found on the pages of Of Ghosts and Goblins. Amazing stories which appear in various versions throughout Japan were written down by Lafcadio Hearn in vivid language. The words flow in a rhythm that matches the mood of each scene – rolling fast as the demons come, slowing down as the morning comes.
The pleasure of tasting the rhythm of words is enhanced by the beautiful edition – a cozy format and a clothbound hard cover. The green, slightly disturbing cover pattern will look beautiful under the Christmas tree, and amazing stories are best read under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa. The story selection comes from the 2019 anthology Japanese Ghosts Stories which features the writer’s various works published between 1894 and 1905. Fans of Japanese folklore will surely recognize some of the stories, such as the tale of Urashima Tarō or Rokurokubi. Is there a better time for a little book full of wonders than long winter evenings?