I just caught Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan on TCM tonight. I WAS going to go to bed early, but noooooo TCM has to lure me in and hold my attention till 3 am with an ancient Japanese ghost story yet again. Thanks TCM! Thanks sooooo much! I liked it so much that I tried to find the movie on line to buy it. Of course it is unavailable, but in snooping around the net I found that this movie is based on a much older Kabuki story. This history of this play is really quite interesting. Below is some of what I learned.
"Yotsuya Kaidan, the story of Oiwa and Tamiya Iemon, is a tale of betrayal, murder and ghostly revenge. Arguably the most famous Japanese ghost story of all time, it has been adapted for film over 30 times, and continues to be an influence on Japanese horror today. Written in 1825 by Tsuruya Nanboku IV as a kabuki play, the original title was Tōkaidō Yotsuya Kaidan. It is now generally shortened, and loosely translates as Ghost Story of Yotsuya. First staged in July 1825, Yotsuya Kaidan appeared at the Nakamuraza theater as a double-feature with the immensely popular Kanadehon Chushingura. Normally, with a Kabuki double-feature, the first play is staged in its entirety, followed by the second play. However, in the case of Yotsuya Kaidan it was decided to interweave the two dramas, with a full staging on two days. The play was incredibly successful, and forced the producers to schedule extra out-of-season performances to meet demand. The story tapped into people’s fears by bringing the ghosts of Japan out of the temples and aristocrats' mansions and into the home of common people, the exact type of people who were the audience of his theater.
Oiwa is an onryō, a ghost who seeks vengeance. Her strong passion for revenge allows her to bridge the gap back to Earth. She shares most of the common traits of this style of Japanese ghost, including the white dress representing the burial kimono she would have worn, the long, ragged hair and white/indigo face that marks a ghost in kabuki theater. There are specific traits to Oiwa that set her apart physically from other onryo. Most famous is her left eye, which droops down her face due to poison given her by Iemon. This feature is exaggerated in kabuki performances to give Oiwa a distinct appearance. She is often shown as partially bald, another effect of the poison. In a spectacular scene in the kabuki play, the living Oiwa sits before a mirror and combs her hair, which comes falling out due to the poison. This scene is a subversion of erotically-charged hair combing scenes in kabuki love plays. The hair piles up to tremendous heights, achieved by a stage hand who sits under the stage and pushes more and more hair up through the floor while Oiwa is combing. Oiwa is supposedly buried at a temple, Myogyo-ji, in Sugamo, a neighborhood of Tokyo. The date of her death is listed as February 22, 1636. Several productions of Yotsuya Kaidan, including television and movie adaptations, have reported mysterious accidents, injuries and even deaths. Prior to staging an adaptation of Yotsuya Kaidan it is now a tradition for the principal actors and the director to make a pilgrimage to Oiwa's grave and ask her permission and blessing for their production. This is considered especially important of the actor assuming the role of Oiwa.
Sadako Yamamura from the film Ring is a clear homage to Oiwa. Her final appearance is a direct adaptation of Oiwa, including the cascading hair and drooping, malformed eye. Also in Ju-on when Hitomi is watching the television, the television presenter is morphed into a woman with one small eye and one large eye- possibly a reference to Oiwa. (From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yotsuya_Kaidan)
Hi everyone! I am EJP of EJPcreations. The items I make utilize design elements from a bygone time, to create modern, urban body ornaments. I am a mad scientist of a woman specializing in creating tiaras, necklaces, and fascinators, with a noir, and gothic flair. All adornments have a hint of vampire elegance, a dash of Steampunk bravado, and plenty of Neo-Victorian sensibilities. Here is my little blog to showcase some of my creations, the things that inspire me, as well as a scrapbook of curiosities that I have picked up in my wanderings across the web. ~ Please Enjoy …