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Friday, July 6, 2012
Play tells story of Meiji Era writer Hearn
By MAAYA KONAGAI
Summertime in Japan is a popular time for telling ghost stories, and one of the best tellers of ghost stories of all was a naturalized Japanese writer named Patrick Lafcadio Hearn.
Hearn (1850-1904) came to Japan as a correspondent for a newspaper when he was 39 and stayed on to work as a teacher, eventually marrying and living out his life here. One of his most famous books was called "Kwaidan" and it included popular ghost tales. Hearn's fascination with things supernatural will feature in an upcoming play about his life, "Nihon no Omokage (Out of the East)."
The play is produced by a group called Rodokuza, which is run by actress Misako Konno. She will perform the role of Hearn's wife, Setsu, while Hearn will be played by Masao Kusakari.
Hearn lived in Japan from 1890 until his death. It was a time of great upheaval as the Meiji Restoration of 1868 had changed the way many people lived their lives.
Westerners living in Japan were a rarity, and often Hearn's views were considered refreshing. He deplored that Japan was not developing but losing its identity amid the changes. Today, with many Japanese companies trying to compete in a global and Internet-oriented market, once again we are living in a time of great change. Perhaps that would make now a good time to revisit Hearn's views.
The play is in Japanese, but the performances on July 18-20 will include English subtitles.
"Nihon no Omokage (Out of the East)" will be performed at Haiyuza Gekijo in Roppongi, Tokyo, on July 12-25. Tickets cost ¥ 7,500 on the door (discounts for students are available if tickets are bought in advance). For more information, call (03) 3709-9430 or visit www.nihonnoomokage.com.