Reminiscences of Lafcadio Hearn


HEARN came to Japan in the spring of the twenty-third year of Meiji (1891). He immediately discontinued his business relations with the publishing-house of Harper & Brothers. That is why he had great difficulty in earning a living after coming far away to a foreign land. He accepted a position in a school in Izumo, because Izumo was the oldest province, where many shadows of great historic events would remain. He did not mind the isolation or the inconveniences, and, as he was a bachelor, he did not care much about the salary. So he went there.

Passing through a succession of villages, the traveler suddenly comes to Matsue, which is a very clean city, and one that surprises and astonishes the visitor. By crossing the large bridge, it is possible to obtain, toward the east, a distant view of Mt. Oyama in Hoki province, called Izumo Fuji by the natives because its shape resembles the other Fuji. The Ohashi River slowly flows in that direction. On the western horizon, sky and lake meet and mingle; square white sails appear to hover above the tranquil waters. Near the shore is an islet bearing five or six pine trees, and on it is a shrine to the goddess Benten. It seemed to me that this was Hearn’s favorite view.

When he first came to Matsue, he stopped for a while in a hotel in Zaimokucho, but soon hurried away to another place. There might have been other reasons, but the main cause of his departure was a little girl who suffered from a disease of the eyes. He thought of her with sorrow, and begged the little one’s relatives to let her go to be treated at the hospital; but the landlord only said, ‘Yes, yes,’ and postponed doing so indefinitely. Hearn was angered, and left the hotel with the words, ‘Strange and unsympathetic man, who is without a parent’s heart!’ Then he moved to another place, and hired a hanarezashiki (detached dwelling in a garden). ‘However,’ said Hearn, ‘the girl is not in the least to blame, only I am sorry for her.’ So he had the doctor treat her and cure her.

He himself had weak eyes, and he always paid a great deal of attention to them. When his first son was born, he made a wish with great anxiety, saying, ‘Come into this world with good eyes!’ He had always a deep sympathy for those with poor eyes. At home, when Hearn saw shosei-san (young students given homes in private families) reading a newspaper or a book on the floor, he would say to them at once,

‘ Hold up the book when you read!'

I married him a short time after he had moved to his new quarters from the hotel, Hearn had a peculiar temperament, and it caused me much trouble. A man moved into our neighborhood and called on him. This man had been in the same hotel in Zaimokucho, and was a friend of the hotelkeeper. He came to borrow a corkscrew. After greeting him, Hearn asked, ‘ Is it you who stayed at that hotel in Zaimokucho, and were a friend of the hotel-keeper’s?’ The man answered, ‘Yes, I am his friend.’ Hearn replied, ‘I dislike you because you are that strange and unsympathetic fellow’s friend. Sayonara. Good-bye!’and left him and went inside the house. This man naturally did not understand what the trouble was, so I tried to explain, but I was very much embarrassed.

We began our married life there, but suffered from many inconveniences. Early in the summer of the twentyfourth year of Meiji (1892), we moved over to a samurai estate and kept house.

We moved with a maid and a pussycat. One evening in the early spring of that year, while the air was yet chill and penetrating, I was standing on the veranda admiring the sunset on the lake, when I saw, directly below the veranda along the shore, four or five naughty children ducking pussy up and down in the water and cruelly teasing her. I begged pussy of the children, brought her back to the house, and told the story to Hearn. ‘Oh, poor puss!’ he exclaimed. ‘What cruel children they were!’ And he held the shivering pussy right in his bosom to warm her. That time I felt a great admiration for him.

After we moved to our estate, Kitabori, we missed the view of the lake, but we had left the noise of the city. At the back were a hill and the garden, and this garden was a favorite spot where we enjoyed walking about in our yukata (light kimono for lounging), wearing garden clogs. The mountain pigeon coos, ‘Te-te-pop, ka-ka-po-po!’ When he heard the mountain pigeon coo, Hearn used to call me to come to him. ‘Do you hear that? Is n’t that delightful?’ And he himself would imitate the sound, — ‘ Te-te-pop, ka-ka-popo!’ — and ask, ‘Did I do it right?’

There was a lotus-pond in the garden, and we saw a snake in it. ‘Snakes never harm you unless you hurt them,’ Hearn said; and he shared his food from the table with the snake. ‘I am giving you this food so that you will not eat the frogs,’ he told the snake. Then he related some of the incidents in his life. ‘When I was in the West Indies, studying, the snakes would often crawl up my left arm, over my shoulders, and down my right arm. But I paid no attention to them and kept on studying. Snakes are not harmful; they are not bad.’

We once took a trip in the province of Hoki, to a place called Lake Togo. We wished to stay there for a week, but the inn was crowded with people having a gay time, drinking and making a great deal of noise. Hearn saw them, and at once pulled my sleeve. ‘ We cannot stay. This is jigoku (hell). It is no place for me, even for a second.’ In spite of the innkeeper’s protests, and his greeting, ' Yoku irashaimash ’ta! (Welcome!) This way, please!’ as he tried to lead the way, Hearn said, ‘I do not like it!’ and left at once.

Both the innkeeper and the kurumaya were surprised. It was a noisy and common inn, and, naturally, I loathed the place, but Hearn called it jigoku. He never had the least patience with anything he disliked. I was still young then, and not used to the world, so this peculiarity of Hearn’s caused me embarrassment many times. This was Hearn’s innate temperament, and I thought it good.

As I remember, it was about this same time that we visited the Kugurido near Kaga-no-ura, in the province of Izumo. This place was a grotto on an island in the sea, about two miles from the land. Hearn was extremely fond of swimming, and he swam all the way, ahead of or behind the boat. He took great delight in giving me an exhibition of the different strokes used in swimming. When the boat reached the cave, the noise of the waves washing against the rocks made a fearful sound, and the drops of water fell down — ‘ potari! potari!' The rowers knocked against the side of the boat with a stone — ‘ hong I kong!’ This was to notify the demon that the boat was coming in. After the noise of the rock — ‘ kong ! kong ! ’ — we heard a sound, ‘ chabong! chabong ! ’ as if something had jumped into the water. The rowers began to tell many horrid stories, pathetic and tragic, about the spot.

Hearn was going to take off his clothes, which he had put on a little while before, but the rowers said, ‘Master, do not do so! It is too dreadful to contemplate!' I also said, ‘Do not go in swimming in such a place! There are so many horrid fables about it that something frightful may dwell here.

But Hearn said, ‘The water is so beautiful, so dark a blue! The depth is unknown. It may be several million fathoms! It would be great fun!’ He was very anxious to go in swimming, but finally renounced the idea. He was very sulky, and, even on the following day, he did not speak because of this disappointment. Several days later he said to me, ‘I once swam in a place where they said it was very dangerous, but I escaped without accident. Only I felt as if my body were melting away the minute I went. in. I had a bad fever at once. Two of us went in at the same time. Suddenly my companion disappeared, and I noticed the tail of a big shark right in front of me.'

In 1892, when it came the time for the summer vacation, Hearn went to visit the holy shrine of Kizuki. The day after his arrival, he wrote to me and asked me to come, too. I went to the hotel, and found him absent; he was bathing in the sea. His money was in a stocking and scattered around — silver coins and bank-notes were falling out. Hearn was so very careless with his money that it was almost amusing. He was born that way, and had no mind for so common a thing. Only when his children were born, or when he noticed that his body was becoming weak, did he take note of the state of his finances and begin to worry about his family.


On August 27, 1897, we went to Tokyo from Kobe. We heard at first that there were houses assigned to professors of the university, but we wished to live far from the university, in the suburb, and, although we hunted for a house, we could not find a good one.

We received word that there was a good, spacious house in the district of Ushigome, if I remember rightly. We went to see it, and found that it was one story in height, and built in the old style. I imagine that it had originally been erected for hatamoto (a commander of the shogun’s camp) or daimyo. The gateway looked like the gateway to a temple, and, after entering, we found that the house looked more and more like a temple. It had a large garden, with a good-sized lotus-pond. But, once inside, we noticed something very ghostly about the place, and felt strange. Hearn liked it, and said, ‘This is a very interesting house.’ He t hought, of taking it, but I could not bear to live in such a place. I learned afterward that it was haunted, and that ogres had dwelt in it. On that account the rental grew less and less, and finally it was torn down. When I told this to Hearn, he said, ‘Why did we not go there to live? I was sure that it was an interesting house!’

We moved to Tomihisa-cho. Here the garden was small, but the view was excellent. Hearn was particularly fond of this place. The neighboring building was a Buddhist temple called Kobudera.

Hearn went about in a kimono, feeling proud and cheerful. When any of his intimate friends came to call, he took them to that interesting temple of Kobudera. And the children always thought that papa was at the temple, if he was not to be seen in the house.

Many times while out walking, he said, ’Mamma-san, is it hard to sit in a temple? Is n’t there any way by which I could live in the temple?’

I replied, ’You are not a priest, so perhaps you cannot very well do so.'

I should prefer to be a priest,’ Hearn said; ’and how pleased I should be if I could be one.’

' If you should become a priest, how funny you would look with your large eyes and high nose — a fine priest!’ I remarked.

’You could become a nun at the same time, and Kazuo [our eldest son] a novice. How cute he would look! Every day we should read the scriptures and take care of the graves, dhat would be true happiness!’

Pray that you may be born a priest in the next world!'

’That is my wish,’replied Hearn.

One day, as usual, we took a walk to the neighboring temple. Suddenly Hearn exclaimed, ’Oh! oh!' I did not know what had happened, and was frightened. Then I saw that three large

cedar trees had been cut down, and Hearn was gazing at them. ‘Why did they cut down those trees?’

Phis temple must be very poor, and they must need some money,’ I replied, Why did n’t they tell me about it? I can easily give a little money to help them. I should have been happier to have given them some money and saved the trees. Think how long a time was necessary for those trees to grow from little sprouting seeds!’ He was very downcast. ‘I begin to dislike that abhot. I am sorry for him because he has no money, but I am more sorry for those trees, Mamma-san!’ Hearn came out of the temple gate in a lifeless manner, as if some great event had taken place. He sat down in the chair in his study, and was very much depressed. ‘It hurt my heart to see that sight,’ he said. ‘There will be no more joy to-day. Please beg the abbot not to cut down any more trees.’ After that time he seldom visited the temple. The old abbot soon went away, and a new young abbot succeeded him. Then all the trees were cut down. When we moved away, there were no trees to be seen, the graves were gone, new tenements had been built, and the whole place changed. What Hearn had called his world of tranquillity vanished in that manner. Those three fallen trees had been the beginning of the end.

I always desired a house of my own, even if a small one, in preference to a rented house, and I wished to build one. When I suggested this, Hearn said, ‘Have you money?’ and I answered, ‘Yes, I have.’ Then he said, ‘Great fun! I will build a house in the island of Oki’; and when I opposed that, he added, ‘We will build one in Izumo province.’ We even went in search of land, but I did not like Izumo well enough to build there, and we finally decided to buy this estate and to build additions later.

Hearn always wished to live in the midst of purely Japanese surroundings, and he went to inspect the house him-

self. It was on the outskirts of the town and had a bamboo grove back of it, and it pleased him very much. In adding to the house, he wished to have a room where he could light a stove during the severe cold of the winter, and he also wished to have his desk face the west. He had no other request, but everything must be in Japanese style; excepting this, he made no suggestions.

If ever I happened to consult him, he would say, ‘Well, you do as you please.

I know how to write, that is all, and you, Mamma-san, know much better.’ He would pay no more attention, and if I insisted, he would add, ‘I have no time’; and he left the entire affair to me.

‘When that house is all ready, you might say, “Papa-san, please come to our new house in Okubo to-day.” Then I will say good-bye to this house, and will go to Okubo just as I would go to the university. That is all.’ I actually did as he requested. He disliked to lose time. This house was larger than the one in Tomihisa-cho, and at that time Okubo was more rural than it is now; it was extremely quiet, and we heard the nightingales singing in the bamboo grove at the back of the house. Hearn continued, ‘It hurts my heart.’

I asked, ‘Why?’ He replied, ‘It is too pleasant to last. I pray that we may live here a long time. But what do you think?’

I used to brush out the rooms about twice every day. It was a diversion for me, but Hearn said, ‘You have a mania for cleaning.’ He hated the noise of cleaning. I always cleaned the house while he was at the university, or, when he was at home, I cleaned it before he got up to breakfast. Otherwise, if I asked him to let me clean, he made me promise to do it in five or six minutes. During that time he walked around the roka (corridor) or in the garden.

Hearn avoided society and seemed eccentric because he valued so highly things of beauty and of interest and was fond of them. For that same reason I frequently observed that he wept when alone by himself, and he was irritated or elated in an abnormal degree. His greatest pleasure was to live and write in the world of his imagination. That is why he was a recluse and was chary of his time.

‘Won’t you do something else for pleasure besides writing in your own study?’ I would ask him.

‘You know very well that my only diversion is to think and to write. If I have anything to write, I never get tired. When I write, I forget everything. Please tell me some stories,’ he would reply.

I would say, ‘I have told you all; I have none to tell.’

' Therefore you should go out and see or hear something interesting, and come back and tell me all about it. It will never do for you just to stay at home.’

After we moved to Okubo, the house was much more spacious and the study was far from the front door and the children’s room, so we made it a world of tranquillity without a single noise. Even then he complained that I broke his train of thought by opening the bureau drawers, so I made every effort to open the drawers more quietly. On such occasions I always remembered not to break his beautiful soap-bubble (not to destroy his day-dreams). That is how I thought about it, so I never felt provoked when he scolded me.

Hearn was extremely fond of ghost stories, and he used to say, ‘Books of ghost stories are my treasures.’ I hunted for them from one second-hand bookstore to another.

On quiet nights, after lowering the wick of the lamp, I would begin to tell ghost stories. Hearn would ask questions with bated breath, and would listen to my tales with a terrified air. I naturally emphasized the exciting parts of the stories when I saw him so moved. At those times our house seemed as if it were haunted. I often had horrid dreams and nightmares. Hearn would say, ‘We will stop talking about such things for a while’; and we would do so. He was pleased when I told a story he liked.

When I told him the old tales, I always first gave the plot roughly; and wherever he found an interesting place, he made a note of it. Then he would ask me to give the details, and often to repeat them. If I told him the story by reading it from a book, he would say, ‘There is no use of your reading it from the book. I prefer your own words and phrases — all from your own thought. Otherwise, it won’t do.’ So I had to assimilate the story before telling it.

That made me dream. He would become so eager when I reached an interesting point of a story! His facial expression would change and his eyes would burn intensely. This change was extraordinary. For example, take the story ‘O Katsu San of Yurei-dake,’ in the first part of the book, Kotto. As I was narrating that story, his face became extremely pale and his eyes fixed. That was not unusual, but this once I suddenly felt afraid. He sighed one long breath, and said, ‘Very interesting!' when I finished it.

He asked me to say, ‘Alas! blood!’ and repeat it several times. He inquired how it had probably been said, and in what tone of voice; what k nd of night it was, and how the wooden clogs would sound. ‘I think it was in this way,’ he would say; ‘how do you think yourself?’ and so forth, — all of this was not at all in the book, — and he w uld consult with me about it. Had any one seen us from the outside, we must have appeared like two mad people.

The story of ‘Yoshi-ichi’ in the first part of Kwaidan pleased Hearn exceedingly. He made that story from a very short one, with great effort and determination. He wished to make one part of it sound stronger. He thought, that ‘Mon o ake’ (Open the door) was not an emphatic enough expression for a samurai, and he made it ‘ Kaimon.' (This latter word means ‘Open the door,’ like the former, but would be more fitting in the speaker’s mouth.) While we were working on this story of ‘Miminashi Yoshi-ichi,’ night fell, but we lighted no lamp. I went into the adjoining room, and called out in a small voice,‘Yoshi-ichi! Yoshi-ichi!’

‘Yes,’ Hearn answered, playing the part, ‘I am blind. Who are you?’ and remained silent. In this way he worked and became absorbed in it.

One day at that time, when I came home from a walk, I brought a miyage (gift) of a little clay figure, a blind musician playing a biwa (a native fourstringed lute), and, without saying a word, I left it on his desk. Hearn, as soon as he noticed it, was delighted, and exclaimed, ‘Oh! Yoshi-ichi!’ as if he saw some one whom he was expecting to meet. And sometimes, when he heard during the night the swish of the bamboo leaves in the wind near his study, he would say, ‘Ah, there goes a Heike!’ And when he heard the wind, he listened to it earnestly, and said, ‘That is the waves of the Dan-no-ura!’

Perhaps I might ask him, ‘Have you written that story?’ He would reply, ’That story has no brother. I shall still wait for a while. Perhaps I may see a good brother coming. I might leave it in a drawer for seven years, and even then I might come across a good brother.’ This is an example of how long it sometimes took him to write one story.

When the MS. — of Ghostly Japan — was finished, he was greatly pleased, and had it wrapped very tightly (he was very proud of doing up the MS. securely — sometimes he put in a piece of board, and made it as heavy as a stone). He wrote the address neatly, and sent the MS. by registered mail. He received a cablegram saying, ‘Good,’ and two or three days later he was dead. He looked forward eagerly to the publication of this book. A little while before his death, he said, ‘I can hear the noise of the tick-tack of setting the type for Ghostly Japan.' He was anxious to see it published, but he passed away without that gratification, and it makes me sad, even now, to think about it.


It was our custom for the three children to go upstairs and shout, ‘Papa, come down; supper is ready!’ Hearn always replied, ‘All right, sweet boys!’ and looked so delighted, sometimes almost dancing about. But there were occasions when he was working so hard that even the children’s announcement would not bring any response, and they could get no answer, ‘All right!' At such times we might wait and wait, but he would not appear in the diningroom. Then I would go up myself, and say, ‘ Papa-san, we have been waiting a long time, and all the things will taste bad. I wish you would hurry up. All the children are waiting.’ Then Hearn would ask, ‘What is it?’ I would reply, ‘What’s the matter with you? This will never do; it is dinner-time. Won’t you take some dinner?’ ‘I ? Have n’t I had dinner yet? I thought I had finished it. That’s funny!’

That is the way it would be, and I would continue, ‘You had better wake up from your dream! The tiny children will cry.’ Hearn would reply, ‘Gomen nasai! Pardon me!' and follow me to the dining-room. On such occasions he was funny or absent-minded; he would forget to divide the bread with the children, and would say ‘No,’ and begin to eat fast. If the children asked for bread, he would come to himself and say, ‘Pardon! Pardon! did n’t I give you any?’ and begin to cut the bread. While cutting it, he would lose himself again, and eat the piece himself.

Before meals he took a little whiskey, but later wine was suggested on account of his health. When absent-minded he often mistook the whiskey for the wine and poured it into a glass to drink, or put salt in his coffee; and when the children drew his attention to it he would say, ‘Really! Is n’t Papa stupid!’ and become lost in thought again. Often I had to say to him, ‘Papa-san, it is about time that I should ask you to wake up from your dream!'

Hearn’s habitual voice was dainty, like a woman’s, and his way of laughing was also very feminine; but sometimes he would become very energetic and excited in a dainty (sic) talk and would express himself very powerfully. He had two ways of laughing. One was dainty, and the other was uproarious, disregardful of everything. This laughter made the whole family laugh, and it was so amusing that even the maid could not help laughing.

There used to be a conch-shell on a table in the study. I brought it back as a miyage, because it was so large, one time when I went to Enoshima with the children. Hearn blew into the shell, and it made a big noise. He was pleased, saying, ‘It sounds so well because I have strong lungs. What a funny noise!’ he added, puffing out his cheeks. We came to an agreement. Every time he wished a charcoal fire for lighting his pipe, he was to blow this conch-shell. When he found no fire, he would blow and make a big noise that would vibrate in soundwaves, like ‘po-wo.’ Then it was heard even in the kitchen. We would keep the house so quiet, not making the least noise, and then would come the roar of the conch-shell. Particularly in the evening it sounded extraordinary. I took special care to have a charcoal fire always ready for him, but he wished to blow the shell; so the minute he saw that the charcoal was gone, he blew delightedly. It must have been fun for him. Often we were bringing the fire, and were already near his study, when we heard him blowing. The maid used to say, laughing, ‘ There goes the shell!’

One summer Hearn and I went to a dry-goods store to buy two or three yukata. The salesman showed us a large variety. That pleased Hearn immensely. He bought this one and that one, while I kept protesting, saying, ‘There is no need of buying so many.’ Finally, he bought about thirty pieces, and astonished the clerks in the shop by saying, But, you see, these are only one and a half or two yen. I do so wish you to wear different kinds of yukata. Only to see them on you will give me great pleasure.’ That is the way in which he would act when he liked anything.

While reading a local newspaper, I noticed an article about an aged peer who loathed Western fashions and liked everything Japanese. The maids in his house had the obi (girdle) tied in just such a way, the coiffure arranged in just such a way, and the kimono long and flowing in the most old-fashioned way, as at court. There were no modern lamps in the house, but old-fashioned paper lanterns; no soap and no Western innovations. Even the daily newspaper was excluded, and the oldfashioned customs were observed by the household servants. On that account no one cared to enter his employ, and would say, ‘ Mappira gomen ’ (I beg to be entirely excused).

When I read that account to Hearn he said, ‘How interesting it is!’ and he was greatly delighted. ’I simply adore a person like that; he would be one of my best friends. I am consumed with desire to see that house. I have nothing Western about me.’

To this I replied, ‘You may have nothing Western about you, but look at your nose!’

And he said, ‘Oh! what can I do with my nose? Pity me because of this, for I, Koizumi Yakumo, truly love Japan more than any Japanese.’

He disliked superficial beauty, and paid no attention to what was in vogue; he hated anything modern, and loathed pretentious kindness. He did not believe in false teeth or artificial eyes. ’They are all false.’ he would say; and disliked them all. He hated the Christian missionaries as he found many dishonest people among them; but he owned three Bibles, and told his eldest son that that was the book he must read a great deal.

I often recall memories of morningglories. When the end of autumn drew near, and the green leaves were beginning to turn yellow, there was always the last morning-glory of the season blossoming so lonesomely by itself. When Hearn saw that lonely flower, he admired it. ‘ Will you please look at it? What beautiful courage and what honest sentiment! Please give it a word of praise. That dainty flower still blooms until the end. Just give it a word of praise! ’

That morning the morning-glory ceased to bloom. My mother thoughtlessly pulled off the blossom and threw it away. The following morning Hearn went over to the fence and was greatly disappointed. He said, ‘Grandma’s a fine woman, but she performed a sorry deed to the morning-glory.’

One of the children made fingermarks on a new fusuma (sliding door) with his small, untidy hand. Hearn said, ‘My child spoiled that beauty!’ He always felt keenly against mutilating or damaging beauty of any kind. He used to teach the children that even a picture you could buy for half a penny would be valuable if it was kept a long time.

Hearn used to tell me to be suspicious of people. He was exceedingly honest, and was easily fooled; he knew this himself, and that is why he used to talk as he did. He was a very critical man.

For instance, when he was doing business with publishers in foreign countries, and because he was so far away, the publisher would take the liberty of deciding the arrangement of such things as book-covers and illustrations without consulting Hearn, who was very particular about all details. At such times Hearn was often made furiously angry. When he received a letter from the publishing-house, he would immediately write back a fierce (sic) answer in anger, and order it to be mailed at once; but then I would say, ‘Yes,’ and hold it over a mail. Two or three days afterward, when he had become calm, he would regret that he had written too severely, and would ask, ‘Mamma-san, have you mailed that letter?’ I would answer, ‘Yes,’ and watch to see whether he really regretted it. If so, I would give him the letter. He would be immensely pleased, and say, ‘Mamma-san, you are the only one!’ and would begin a new letter in a milder tone.

Hearn preferred women of quiet disposition to those of lively temperament. He liked bashful, downcast eyes better than those of Westerners. He liked the eyes of Kwannon and Jizo (Buddhist divinities). When we were having our pictures taken, he always told us to look downward, and he himself had his picture taken in that attitude.

Just before our eldest boy came, he thought that children were lovely, and borrowed one and kept it in our house.

At the time of our eldest son’s birth he was very pleased, although extremely anxious. He hoped that my delivery would be easy, and felt sorry for my suffering. And he said, ‘On such an occasion I ought to be studying,’ and he went out to the hanarezashiki and worked.

When he heard the new-born baby’s first cry, he was affected by a very queer feeling — a feeling that he had never experienced in all his life. When he saw the baby the first time, he could find no words, and later told me that he had had no breath, and he often spoke of it in retrospect. He loved the baby very much.

The following year he went to Yokohama alone (his only other trip by himself had been once to Nagasaki, where he had intended to stay for a week; but he came back after one night, saying, ‘Never again!’), and returned with a great many toys. We were all surprised when we saw so many, and among them we found some for which he had paid five and ten yen.

When our daughter Suzuko came, he felt that, in his old age, he would be unable to foresee the girl’s future, and he said, ‘What pain is in my heart!’ He worried over it with more sorrow than rejoicing.

During his latter years he spoke of poor health; he depended on me, was devoted to me like a baby to its mother, and would wait for my return. When he heard my footstep, he would say jokingly, but with great delight, ‘Is that you, Mamma-san?’ Should I be a bit late, he would worry, thinking that the kuruma had tipped over, or that some other misfortune had befallen me.

When he wished to hire a kurumaya, his first question was, ‘Does he love his wTife?’ And if my answer were in the affirmative, he would say, ‘That is all right!’ There was one person whom Hearn held in high esteem, but was greatly worried because he had such a stern expression toward his wife.

Just before Hearn’s death a famous personage asked for an interview. There was, however, a man of the same name in England who had the reputation of abusing women, and Hearn thought that this person might be the one, and intended to refuse the request. Then he discovered that it was some one else and decided to meet him, but died before the interview. He became so angry with any one who abused the weak—women or children. I cannot mention them here individually, but there were many people who were once very intimate with Hearn and from whom he afterward became estranged because of these same reasons.

I may name again some things that Hearn liked extremely: the west, sunsets, summer, the sea, swimming, banana trees, cryptomerias (the sugi, the Japanese cedar), lonely cemeteries, insects, ‘kwaidan’ (ghostly tales), Urashima, and horai (songs). The places he liked were: Martinique, Matsue, Mihono-seki, Higosaki, and Yakizu. He was fond of beefsteak and plum-pudding, and enjoyed smoking. He disliked liars, abuse of the weak, Prince Albert coats, white shirts, the city of New York, and many other things. One of his pleasures was to wear the yukata in his study and listen quietly to the voice of the locust.

We often took walks together, crossing the bridge of Ochiai to the neighborhood of Arai-no-yakushi. Every time that Hearn saw the chimney of the Ochiai crematory, he would think, as he said, that he himself would soon come out as smoke from that chimney. He always liked quiet temple grounds. Had there been a temple, a very small and dilapidated building with walls overgrown with weeds, it would have been an ideal resting-place for Hearn’s body. But such a place was hard to find quickly. His wish was to have a small tombstone invisible from the outside — he always spoke of that. But it was finally decided that the service should be held at the Kobudera temple, and he was buried in the cemetery of Zoshigaya.

He and I took a walk together to look at gates in the neighborhood of Zoshigaya, as we wished to alter our own front gate. It was about two weeks before his death, and it was the last walk that he and I were to take together. The work of altering our gate was begun two days before his death, and after his death we hurried to have it ready in time for the funeral.

  1. Translated from the Japanese by Paul Kiyoshi Hisada and Frederick Johnson.