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Finding Homes in the Unfamiliar - Glimpses of Lafcadio Hearn’s Japan

Clara Kumagai, Ireland/Japan

  • Travel, Landscape
  • Literature Philosophy
  • People
Finding Homes in the Unfamiliar

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Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, born in 1850, was a writer of several names and many places. Son of an Irish father and Greek mother, Hearn lived in and wrote of the US and the West Indies, but it’s for his writings about Japan that he is most famous.

In 1880 Hearn came to Japan living in Kobe, Kumamoto, Matsue, and Tokyo, and travelling to many other places. He wrote most fondly of Matsue, where he met and married his wife Koizumi Setsu.
Hearn’s account of the Oki islands, in the second volume of ’Glimpses of an Unfamiliar Japan,’ is also representative of the remote places he explored – places that even today, many Japanese people have not visited.

By retracing some of the paths Hearn walked, more than a century later, the author hopes to see what inspired him. In Matsue and throughout Shimane Prefecture, the Shinto shrines and the sacred sites that captivated him still exist. The landscape of the Oki Islands, Nishinoshima and Nakanoshima, remains as enthralling and beautiful as it does within the pages of Hearn’s books.

Emperor Gotoba

A Swordsmith Emperor in Medieval Japan
As 2021 marks the 800th anniversary of Emperor Gotoba’s arrival in the Oki Islands off the coast of what is now Shimane Prefecture where he spent the last nineteen years of his life in exile, we take a closer look at the extraordinary life and influence on the sword and poetry worlds of this Kamakura Period (1185-1333) emperor.

Emperor Gotoba

150th Anniversary of Lafcadio Hearn’s Arrival in the USA

We recommend to read the comprehensive portrait of Lafcadio Hearn in the New Yorker -
- and a visit to the special exhibition at the Koizumi Yakumo Kinenkan in Matsue.