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Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo)

Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo) was born on 27th June 1850, on Lefkada, an island in western Greece. His father Charles, an Irishman, was a military surgeon. His mother Rosa was from Greek island of Kithira. As Ireland was not an independent nation at the time, Hearn had British nationality.

He was taken to Ireland at the age of two, and later received a Catholic education in Britain and France. However, he questioned the teaching he received. At the age of sixteen, he lost the sight in his left eye in a playground accident. At the age of nineteen, his great-aunt, Sarah Brenane, in whose care he had been placed, was declared bankrupt, and, alone he moved to the USA. After a period of living in extreme poverty, he found employment as a journalist in Cincinnati, and his literary talents were recognised. He later lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, and on Martinique, an island in the Caribbean. He was fascinated by the cultural diversity he found, and continued his reporting and writing activities with enthusiasm. While living in New Orleans, he encountered Japanese culture at an exposition held in the city. In New York, he read the English translation of the Kojiki, and resolved to visit Japan. He arrived in Japan in April 1890.

In August of the same year, he found employment as an English teacher at Shimane Prefectural Common Middle School, in Matsue. He subsequently worked at the Fifth Higher Middle School in Kumamoto, and at the Kobe Chronicle, before taking up a position as lecturer of English literature at the College of Letters, Imperial University (Tokyo) in September 1896. He was discharged from the university in 1903, and replaced by Natsume Soseki. He then went to teach at Waseda University.

During this time, in 1896, he married Koizumi Setsu, the daughter of a Matsue samurai, and became a naturalized Japanese citizen. He was blessed with three sons and a daughter. As a writer, he produced around thirty works, which were mainly translation, travelogue, and retellings of folk tales.

He died from a heart attack on 26th September 1904, at the age of fifty-four.

(Text from Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum)









Acclaimed manga and anime creator Leiji Matsumoto designed and supervised a Flash anime short of the classic Japanese folklore character Yuki-onna (Snow Woman) from Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn. The artist FROGMAN(Eagle Talon) directed the short at his studio DLE. 

Portrait of Lafcadio Hearn
Lafcadio Hearn & Koizumi Setsu

Images: (top) Lafcadio Hearn © Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum
(bottom) Lafcadio Hearn & Koizumi Setsu © The Koizumi Family

画像: (top) ラフカディオ・ハーン © 小泉八雲記念館
(bottom) ラフカディオ・ハーン&小泉セツ © 小泉家