Phillips Library Advent Calendar, December 14

Yuki Onna, The Snow Ghost

Yuki Onna, The Snow Ghost

Another serendipitous find – I was looking for a Haiku text to provide respite during a busy day in the library.  Instead I found Richard Gordon Smith’s Ancient Tales and Folklore of Japan, which includes fifty-seven stories, each of which are illustrated with beautiful colored plates, drawn and painted by Mo-No-Yuki.  Smith originally collected these stories in illustrated diaries while travelling in Japan to collect natural history specimens for the British Museum.

Ancient Tales & Folklore of Japan by Richard Gordon Smith

Ancient Tales & Folklore of Japan by Richard Gordon Smith

I was struck by the similarity of one story with that of The Snow Image discussed on December 11.  Smith’s Snow Ghost (known in Japan as Yuki Onna) shares the story of Kyuzaemon, a poor man who had lost his wife and child.  During a snow storm, he hears a rapping on the door and the sound of a child’s voice.  Although he refused to let the young girl inside his home, he later finds her in his bedroom, at which time she says, I can come in anywhere I choose . . . I am the woman you would not let in.  I require no clogs; for I whirl along over the snow, sometimes even flying through the air.  Further conversation indicates that she is the spirit of the wife of a neighbor, who had died the previous year.  At the end of the story, the author writes, All those who die by the snow and cold become spirits of snow, appearing when there is snow; just as the spirits of those who are drowned in the sea only appear in stormy seas.

Using folklore-Japan  as a subject search in PHILCAT leads one to more than fifty other titles in our collection, several of which are in the Hasegawa Takejiro Collection mentioned in the post for Day 1 of this Advent Calendar.

Phillips Library Advent Calendar, December 13

Ring Out Wild Bells, By Alfred Tennyson

Ring Out Wild Bells, By Alfred Tennyson, 1850

The holiday season is one of reflection, a time when many reflect on events of the past and identify hopes for the future.  Alfred Tennyson’s poem, Ring Out, Wild Bells, was written in 1833 in response to the death of a special friend and mentor, Arthur Hallam.   The poem was not published until 1850 when Tennyson included it in a collection of poems entitled, In Memoriam, after which he became Britain’s Poet Laureate. Read more