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Patrick Lafcadio - Irish Greek With Japanese Heart

Guest Author - Joy Alari

During the Meiji period, when much wasn’t known about Japan, Patrick Lafcadio Hearn’s writings helped to fully open Japan, to the rest of the world, till date his works are still an authority to that era.

Patrick was a Journalist, a Translator and high school Teacher, he was also a lecturer at the Tokyo Imperial University.

Patrick was an International writer, he had many Japanese literary works to his name, some popular ones were In Ghostly Japan [1899] Glimpses Of Unfamiliar Japan [1894] Kwaidan: Stories and Studies Of Strange Things [1903]
The latter was so good, that it became the subject of a movie, for the acclaimed Japanese Director Masaki Kobayashi.

Patrick Lafcadio Hearn was born in June 27 1850, his father Sergeant Major Charles Hearn was from Ireland, while his mother Rosa Kassimati was of a Greek noble heritage.

In 1885, Patrick was injured at a playground and as a result, he had loss of vision in his left eye, its solely for this reason that he always preferred, to be photographed from his right side.

When he was 19 years old, Patrick left Greece for the United States, without work he lived in poverty for quite some time, until Henry Watkin an English friend of his helped him, to get a job at the local paper.

Patrick later became one of their best crime reporters but was later fired because he married an African woman called Alethea Foley. At that time it was considered a crime, to get hitched with people of color although Patrick was not prosecuted, the news of his marriage was much publicized and treated as a scandal, this so greatly affected the marriage that Patrick and Alethea subsequently divorced in 1887.

Patrick eventually got another job, with a rival paper but he didn't stay long as he later moved to New Orleans, for ten years he stayed there working for the local paper, many of his write ups was said to have contributed, to the development of the town, as the rest of the United States as well as the outside world, began to regard New Orleans as a rather exotic town, with a very rich culture.

It was in 1890, that Patrick finally came to Japan as a reporter, it wasn't long before he fell in love with the people and its Culture, Patrick was quick to realize that Japan was going to be his home forever, with the aid of another friend called Basil Chamberlain, he was able to get summer teaching jobs, as well as reporting jobs at the Kobe Chronicle.

Patrick later became a full citizen of Japan and even changed his name to Koizumi Yakum, when he married Koizumi Setsu.

Patrick's secound wife was from a local samurai family.

Patrick died from a heart failure at the age of 54 and on the 24th of September 1904, he was buried at the Zoshigaya cemetery in Tokyo.

Some of Patrick’s works, have being featured in some popular movies, a cultural center at the University of Durham, with a museum at Matsue [which is a western town in Japan and where Patrick’s former home is] were all named after him.

Today, they are still a popular tourist attraction.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Joy Alari. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Joy Alari. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ching Kin Min for details.

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