BYU Asian Studies Journal


Josh Dalton


BYU Asian Studies, Ihara Saikaku, Tales from Various Provinces


n 1685, Ihara Saikaku published his Tales from Various Provinces, a five-volume collection consisting of thirty-five short stories. Saikaku explained: “I went throughout the provinces in search of subject matter for my writings.” The result was a compilation of humorous and bizarre local legends. “Reflecting on the experience,” Saikaku wrote, “I can only conclude that people are all spooks.” By interweaving his own wit and imagination into the tales he gathered, Saikaku closed the gap separating fantasy from reality. As a result, he simultaneously emphasized both the unique nature of the human experience and the universal aspects that everyone can relate to in one form or another.