Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Black Hair movie

Kaidan aka Kwaidan (1964) movie

I watched the first of four Japanese ghost stories.

Black Hair

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Screenplay: YĆ“ko Mizuki
Based on book by: Lafcadio Hearn

Female ghostie

Description from imdb:
In ancient Kyoto, a samurai decides to leave his poor but beloved wife and become rich marrying a wealthy wife. He misses his first loved wife, and years later, when he returns to her, he finds a surprise waiting for him.

My thoughts:
In-a-word(s): flying hair

Not a usual haunting. The ghost in the story is of a gentle sort that haunts through daydreams. She inserts herself into her ex-husband's thoughts in the most odd times like when he is on horseback in the middle of a bow and arrow competition.

The constant haunts eventually guides the ex-husband back to his home town and first wife.

After an evening of sweet reunion, the reality of the ghostly situation is revealed and the ex-husband is undone in a horrifying way. eeek!

Kaidan tales includes:
Black Hair
Woman in the Snow - my review
Hoichi, the Earless - my review
In A Cup Of Tea - my review

Blogosphere bit:

The second wife in the movie was from a wealthy family. Not knowing much of Japanese history I was curious as to what was behind her black teeth and shaved eyebrows.

Found out why here:

Women: "In Junichiro Tanizaki’s ‘Ineiraisan’, one of whose themes is the traditional Japanese aesthetic sense, the reason why a married woman wears ‘ohaguro’ is to emphasize ‘oshiroi’ (white powder). During the Edo Era, women of the middle class lived in a dark house. Only candles lit up the rooms. The room was dark, a woman’s kimono was also dark, as well as her teeth. And women applied ‘oshiroi’ to their faces in order not to show their expression.

It is thought that ‘ohaguro’ is effective in making an expressionless face. The black of ‘ohaguro’ was in sharp contrast with the face white with ‘oshiroi’ and had the effect of emphasizing it. ...

By shaving her eyebrows and dyeing the teeth black, the changes of feeling do not appear in her expression. Thus expression is extinguished. That is, one may say that ‘ohaguro’ is the culture which hides expression[,] which was thought to be one of the elements of a beauty. ‘Ohaguro’ came to distinctly represent age, occupation, and marital status. This meant that a woman became obedient as a subordinate to her husband because black cannot be dyed with other colors. It is clear that black has a deep connection with the idea of fidelity.

*part of my Hello Japan! challenge

*part of my Helluva Halloween challenge


  1. This sounds really, really good. The Japanese sure know how to do creepy. And I love the research bit you added--the whole hiding of expression thing is also kinda creepy!! I had no idea.

  2. Ooh this sounds complex and fantastic. I think I'm going to have to try to get my hands on a copy (hello, inter-library loan, how have you been?)

  3. This sounds awesome! I wish I could get a copy of it to participate in the Hello! Japan Challenge. The Japanese sure do know how to creep you out!


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