Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Japanese Ghost Stories” as Want to Read:
Japanese Ghost Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Japanese Ghost Stories

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  120 ratings  ·  31 reviews
In this collection of classic ghost stories from Japan, beautiful princesses turn out to be frogs, paintings come alive, deadly spectral brides haunt the living, and a samurai delivers the baby of a Shinto goddess with mystical help. Here are all the phantoms and ghouls of Japanese folklore: 'rokuro-kubi', whose heads separate from their bodies at night; 'jikininki', or ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 25th 2019 by Penguin Classics (first published June 22nd 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Japanese Ghost Stories, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Japanese Ghost Stories

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  120 ratings  ·  31 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Japanese Ghost Stories
Carol
“Whoever pretends not to believe in ghosts of any sort, lies to his own heart. Every man is haunted by ghosts … though most of us (poets excepted) are unwilling to confess the acquaintance.” Lafcadio Hearn, “The Eternal Haunter” – from the Introduction to Japanese Ghost Stories.

If you are a fan of Japanese literature, this collection is must-purchase. Further, it is Penguin Classics at its best. From the detailed chronology of Lafcadio Hearn’s life (1850-1904), to the fabulous introduction (I
...more
Tim
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it


It’s rather interesting to think that one of the most influential writers of Japanese ghost stories was a man born in Greece and raised in Ireland. Lafcadio Hearn (also known as Koizumi Yakumo) spent most of the last decade or so of his life composing English language versions of many Japanese ghost stories and folktales. When it came time for Masaki Kobayashi to direct the absolutely beautiful film Kwaidan, he based it on Hearne’s take on the tales. Let that sink in. The Japanese film used HIS
...more
kian
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw a woman - by the river- and she showed me.... aaah! I can not tell you what she showed me!
-Was is anything like this? cried the soba-man. putting his hand to his own face.
As he spoke, his eyes, nose and mouth disappeard. Suddenly, his face became as smooth as an egg... and, at the same time, his light went out...
Tanya
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, arc
"Whoever pretends not to believe in ghosts of any sort, lies to his own heart. Every man is haunted by ghosts—though most of us (poets excepted) are unwilling to confess the acquaintance."


I'm leaving for my first ever Japan trip in three weeks and spooky season is upon us, so this book immediately jumped out to me when browsing for ARCs of upcoming releases. I usually read and review them before publication, but this new edition of Hearn's retellings of Japanese folk stories took me longer to
...more
Steven Middaugh
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A better collection of Kwaidan

Lot of Hearn's scattered Japanese Ghost Stories have been collected from several of his books, and were put together in one book. This is a good way for readers to get acquainted with his stories without having to hunt for more of his books. Thus appreciate the telling of these tales with "delicious chill" as Algernon Blackwood called it. (Blackwood was a fan of Hearn). These are comparable to the works of Pu Songling, which you also should read. Strongly
...more
Alan
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Few do spooky, disturbing ghost stories as well as the Japanese. And few Westerners have truly got under the skin and understood Japan as Lafcadio Hearn. This is an excellent collection, perfect to dip into now and again to leisure in the ghostly goings-on. Great stuff, and a must-have on the bookshelf of any fan of Japanese literature.
Danesh
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
My last read:

Japanese Ghost Stories by Lafcadio Hearn

This is a collection of short stories. I love Japanese ghost stories because they are downright macabre and surreal.

This is a collection of short stories. To give you an idea, there are stories about paintings coming alive, flesh-eating goblins (or jikininki), dead brides haunting the living and others.

As in any collection of short stories, the stories range from average to good to excellent. And what I really like is that they are *really*
...more
Tylerclem
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book has a few different Japanese Ghost Stories, 15 different stories. Every story is different and really fun to read it. My favourite story was called "The Bouncing heads". The story is kind of creepy, the title itself is really creepy. When I was in Japanese school I used to read this kind of story a lot. It's really fun and sometimes it's weird and creepy, but that's the part that you can really enjoy. One thing I thought it's a good part of this book is that it's not like a long book ...more
Rick
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
In all its haunting glory this is just a bit more than an anthology of Japanese ghost stories, as it also reveals, sometimes very sharp, the period in which it was written, before 1904, before the World War, and before the first Russo-Japanese war when an Asian nation for the first beat a European one on the battlefield. It was written during a period whan Japan was modernising at a surprising speed but still also stood with one foot in a feodal world where samourai still swore fealty to their ...more
erin
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
There were only a handful of decent stories in this entire book. Not quite sure why I read the whole thing.
Aisling
I did enjoy this and would probably rate at 3.6 if there were more options on Goodreads. Although I do wonder how much of my enjoyment was due to the fact that I was reading it while in Japan...
Neri.
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Not as thrilling or scary as I thought it would be. Just watch 'Kwaidan' or 'Kuroneko' instead.
Mortisha Cassavetes
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
WoW! I really enjoyed this book. The forward talks about the life of Lafcadio Hearn and what I loved is how he made is name in Cincinnati, Ohio which is near me and how he went on to Japan and wrote this book sharing the stories told to him by his wife and how they created their own. This is a short story collection of many different tales about ghosts and I just loved it. Some stories, of course, are better than others but as a whole the collection is brilliant. I highly recommend this book ...more
Raquel Melo
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simple reading, but really good.
Kathleen
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From "Of Ghosts and Goblins": "'O Kinjuro,' I said, as we took our way home, 'I have heard and I have read many Japanese stories of the returning dead. Likewise, you yourself have told me it is still believed the dead return, and why. But according both to that which I have read and that which you have told me, the coming back of the dead is never a thing to be desired. They return because of hate, or because of envy, or because they cannot rest for sorrow. But of any who return for that which ...more
Åshild Livsdatter
Dec 11, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5
The stories are mostly very short, and the progression is lightning fast - people get married, have kids and die on the same page - like with many old stories and sagas. What I like the most is just getting into the myths and legends and stories of different cultures. And even if this is written by a non-Japanese person, he lived in Japan for quite some time (until his death) and it has even come to that his writings of the legends has become very famous and well-read in Japan (I have myself
...more
Andrew James
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A better title for this should include something along the lines of “Japanese spiritual notions and supernatural memoirs.” Its not just one ghost story after another, which is fine - it actually makes this collection better. Sometimes there would be a ghost story, and other times there would be two or three pages quickly explaining a spiritual legend or belief.

The translation is great; more than just translating from one language another - the author translates from the Japanese to the Western
...more
Dragonlady
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From childhood, author Lafcadio Hearn had an interesting life that eventually took him Japan where he immersed himself in the culture for many years. These ghost stories are part of a collection Hearn compiled in the late 1800’s and they have not lost their charm. Unlike the typical contemporary ghost story, these engrossing tales don’t rely on excessive gore or carnage but instead, often delve into the consequences of broken promises. The footnotes clarify unfamiliar terms and add extra depth ...more
Robert Potter
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is more Japanese folk lore than particularly scary ghost stories. What I did like about the book was the breadth of stories contain with in as well as the common themes that continued to pop out throughout.

A lot of the stories are very similar though it is somewhat of a drag to get through them but thankfully most our short and too the point.

Would recommend if you have an interest in Japanese culture.
Nikola Novaković
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Most of the stories included here are rather formulaic and repetitive, and the fact that they are called "ghost" stories does not necessarily mean they are scary stories, for sometimes they are categorized as such merely because a ghost appears as a character. Overall, I found them largely forgettable, with only one or two truly outstanding pieces whose chill will stay with me for a long time (such as "Ingwa-Banashi" and "The Corpse-Rider").
Franzen Vive
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A splendid collection of horror stories from Japan. Some stories here might left you with the feeling of something eerie. Also, some of them will surely make you utter a cry of delight. Through these stories, one can get a cultural immersion of Japan. This book is a must-have to people who are in love of Japan and also to those avid fans of horror and the supernatural.
melbutnotgibson
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
This was an interesting read; good in spots but it did not have enough fascination to keep me engaged the whole time. I think the narrator I listened to was dull. I might feel different if I read it on a paperback.
Ilse
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great collection! Although there were some recurring patterns, every story was different and unsettling. Apart from being just nice, ghostly stories, they also provided, together with the explanations from the author, an interesting insight into Japanese culture.
Eric
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting collection of stories retold by Hearn in a simple and clean matter. You can feel the roots of many common modern ghost stories here (one was even turned into a segment in the "Tales From the Darkside" movie).
☆PopStar☆
Oct 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Japanese ghosts have no chill.
Rob Christopher
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it
More interesting than scary, but still well worth reading. Lots of great historical notes are included.
Ian Hamilton
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately there's not much variety across this collection of stories; they're all very formulaic. The few that aren't are the standouts - largely forgettable...disappointed.
Piper Winchester
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Meh.
Some stories were creepy and some were not.
It's the pros and cons of short stories.
Ebony
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it
The stories in this collection were a bit hit or miss for me but the stories are well-written and the side-notes about cultural information for the reader was very much appreciated. I do think that this would be a good addition to a library's collection.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Stacie
May 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
I'd actually thought this was an anthology of different authors. I found the information on the one author to be superfluous.

The stories themselves were really difficult to get through. I'm not sure if it's how they were translated or they were written like that. But they were very dry and esoteric.
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Un roi sans divertissement
  • The Penguin Book of Haiku
  • Der Struwwelpeter
  • Quicksand
  • The Blue Fairy Book
  • Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story
  • Woolgathering
  • The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
  • Quichotte
  • 命売ります [Inochi Urimasu]
  • 斜め屋敷の犯罪 [Naname Yashiki No Hanzai]
  • Devils in Daylight
  • The Spirit Drum
  • The Tale of Kieu
  • Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction
  • Dark Water
  • Babel: Around the World in Twenty Languages
  • The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class
See similar books…
220 followers
Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (in Greek: Πατρίκιος Λευκάδιος Χερν, aka Koizumi Yakumo, in Japanese: 小泉八雲) was born in the island of Lefkas (aka Lefkada), Greece. He was a son of an army doctor Charles Hearn from Ireland and a Greek woman Rosa Cassimati (in Greek: Ρόζα Αντωνίου Κασιμάτη). After making remarkable works in America as a journalist, he went to Japan in 1890 as a journey report writer of a ...more
“[...], es kommt von der fast rhythmischen Wiederkehr einzelner Vokale, die - so will mir scheinen - gewisse Gedanken ausdrücken sollen und Äußerungen einer tierhaften Sprache sind. Das Ganze ist ein Gesang - ein Gesang voll Gefühlen und Begriffen, die nichts Menschliches an sich haben und uns deshalb vollkommen unfassbar bleiben müssen. - Hunde jedoch verstehen offenbar, was dieser Gesang bedeutet, denn sie antworten, obgleich meilenweit weg, durch die Finsternis der Nacht. - Oft muss ich mein Gehör aufs Äußerste anstrengen, um ihre Antwort noch zu vernehmen, so groß ist die Entfernung. Der Worte - wenn man hier von 'Worten' reden darf -, die der Gesang enthält, sind nur wenige, aber, nach der Erregung zu schließen, die sie in Hundekreisen hervorrufen, müssen sie überaus inhaltsreich sein. Vielleicht dreht es sich da um Dinge, die sich auf Gerüche beziehen, auf Aushauche, Einflüsse, Ausstrahlungen, die unsern stumpfen menschlichen Sinnen verschlossenes Land bedeuten. - Vielleicht um feine Anregungen, für die es keinen Namen gibt, - um Impulse und Anreize, die der Vollmond in den Geistern der Hunde zum Leben erweckt.” 0 likes
More quotes…