Kokon Hyakumonogatari Hyoban (A Critique of Hundred Tales Old and New) (古今百物語評判)

"Kokon Hyakumonogatari Hyoban" (A Critique of Hundred Tales Old and New) is a collection of kaidan (ghost) tales written and edited by Genrin YAMAOKA who was a litterateur in the early Edo period. Although it is entitled "Kokon Hyakumonogatari Hyoban," it may be simply called "Hyakumonogatari Hyoban." It comprises four volumes.

After Genrin's death, Motoyoshi YAMAOKA, his son, sorted out and supplemented his posthumous writings. "Kokon Hyakumonogatari Hyoban" was finally published in July or August 1686, more than 10 years after Genrin's death. Genrin died in the middle of editing and writing the book, so Motoyoshi supplemented it. It is unknown, however, which portion he wrote.


"Kokon Hyakumonogatari Hyoban" is presumably based on the gatherings held by Genrin in his house in Rokujo-dori Street, Kyoto for the telling of hundred ghost stories. While there are many collections of ghost stories whose titles include the phrase, 'Hyakumonogatari' such as "Shokoku Hyakumonogatari" (Hundred Tales from Various Provinces), the present text largely differs in form from the others. Many "hundred tales of ghosts" recount ghost stories. In the present work, however, Genrin versed in Buddhism and Confucianism takes up the subject of each tale to explicate (critique) its specter or supernatural phenomenon on the basis of the day's rational thoughts such as the Yin-Yang Wu-Hsing Doctrine, quoting Chinese and Japanese proverbs. His work is best characterized as a commentary on the tales of specters. In the chapter on 'various opinions about the ogre' for instance, he explains that every object consists of Yin and Yang, and the act of Yang results in a god whereas the act of Ying results in an ogre.

He does not simply list ghost tales on which he comments. He also describes how the participants of a gathering for kaidan tales told a story one after another. He characteristically describes his commentary in the form of participants' questions about it and his responses to them.

Although quite a few of his explications have been pointed out as strange or even far-fetched, his work was long used as a theoretical framework for kaidan tales.
Sekiei TORIYAMA, a famous painter of specters in the Edo period, used Genrin's work for his own "Gazu Hyakki Yako" (Pictures of the Nocturnal Stroll of Demons) to depict 'Specter Akaneburi' which he took from Genrin's 'Akaneburi no koto' as well as 'Monster Tsurubebi' based on 'Tsurube-oroshi in Nishinooka.'
This suggests how influential Genrin's work was in later generations.

[Original Japanese]