Kotto: Being Japanese Curios, With Sundry Cobwebs
Publication date: October 2012
Digital Book format: ePub (Adobe DRM)
You save: $0.96 (19%)
The first Tuttle edition of Kotto was published in print form in 1972Japanese curios, with sundry cobwebs, excite the curiosity and imagination of a master spinner of tales, and the result is Kotto, another Lafcadio Hearn classic about old Japan. Here Hearn spins tales from old Japanese books to illustrate some strange beliefs. They are only curios, he says laconically, but some of these legends will make your spine tingle and your heart trip faster, like the one about a waterfall called Yurei-Daki, or the Cascade of Ghosts. The ghostswere as real as their warnings, but a bold woman failed to heed thema horrible mistake. Hearn could also find in the commonplace the stuff of which imperishable literature is spun. A drop of dew hangs quivering on the bamboo lattice of his study window. Its tiny sphere repeats the colors of the morningof sky and field and far-off trees, of a cottage with children at play. But much more than the visible world is imaged by that dewdrop: the world invisible, of infinite mystery, is likewise repeated. Buddhism finds in such a dewdrop the symbol of that other microcosm called the Soul. "Soon that tiny globe of light, with all its fairy tints and topsy-turvy picturings, will have vanished away. . . . Between the vanishing of the drop and the vanishing of the man, what difference?" And what becomes of the dewdrop? "By the great sun its atoms are separated and lifted and scattered. To cloud and earth, to river and seathey go; and out of land and stream and sea again they will be updrawn, only to fall and to scatter anew. They will creep in opalescent mists, they will whiten in frost and hail and snow, they will reflect again the forms and colors of the macrocosm. . . . For each one of them must combine again with countless kindred atoms for the making of other drops, drops of dew and rain and sap, ofblood and sweat and tears." Almost half a century later Sir Winston Churchill used a similar expression.
In "The Eater of Dreams" there is a long list of evil Wonders, and the signs of their presence. But "Fireflies" produces a warm glow in the hearts of its readers. These friendly little insects have been celebrated in Japanese poetry from ancient times; and, as Hearn points out, frequent mention is made of them in early classical prose. A chapter of the famous novel Genji Monogatari is entitled "Fireflies." The author tells how a certain noble person was enabled to obtain one glimpse of a lady's face in the dark by the device of catching and suddenly liberating a number of fireflies. This glowing Hearn gem is certain to attract many readers.