Lafkadios Hearn Days in Lefkada Island

When West World met Japan thanks to Lafkadios Hearn

Makoto Jiku Performance for Lafkadios Hearn Days in Lefkas
Makoto Jiku Dancing Group from Japan in Lefkas

Every year Lefkada, the island of arts, honours its lost literary son, Lafkadio Hearn. Actually, a Lafkadios Hearn Historical Center founded in the Cultural Centre of the island in 2014 to honour Japan’s national poet and writer. In particular, it was the municipalities of Kumamoto, Matsue, Shinjuku, Yaizu, the Toyama University and the Koizumi family who contributed to the foundation of the Centre. Also people from Japan and Greece helped a lot for the exhibits of the Centre. Almost every summer since 2014, the people of Lefkada have the honour to host the Japan’s Ambassador and delegations from the country of the Rising Sun.

For this reason, in the frame of Lafkadios Hearn’s birthday celebrations, several events take place in the island. This summer the celebrations lasted for two days from 26th to 27th of June 2019. Of course one of the highlights was a beautiful performance from the Japanese dancing group, Makoto Jiku, at the Garden Theatre of the town.

Lafkadios Hearn’s life should become a novel or a movie

Patrick Hearn was born in Lefkada on 27th of June in 1850 and died in Japan in 1904. Later on he took the name Lafkadios because of his birthplace. However Japan’s people know him as Yakumo Koizumi. After all, two museums, one in Matsue city and one in Kumamoto operate there with exhibits of his work. His mother was Greek and his father was an Irish surgeon of the British Army. That time Lefkada was under the British occupation.

Unfortunately little Patrick, as a child of a temporary affair, his parents abandoned him just after they cancelled their marriage. For this reason he moved to Ireland where he was raised by his father’s aunt. He attended the Ushaw College in England. Unfortunately during his studies he lost his eye in an accident at school. When his grandaunt went bankrupt he moved to the United States . There he started his career as a reporter of a Cincinnati newspaper. After Cincinnati he moved to New Orleans where he started writing Chinese ghost stories and translating French literature. After New Orleans he moved to French West Indies for two years where he wrote and published two novels.

Lafkadios Hearn Celebrations in Lefkada
Theatrical performance during Lafkadios Hearn’s birthday celebrations in Lefkada

Lafkadios Hearn arrives in the land of the rising sun

Finally, his last station was in Japan in 1890. He loved so much the culture of Japan that every year was writing a book depicting the traditions of the country. Also he began teaching English literature in Tokyo Imperial University. Later on he got married and became a father of four children. Of course he assumed a Japanese name and became famous in his lifetime both in Japan, Europe and in United States. In particular after his death in 1904 he earned a reputation in Japan after his entire work was published in Japanese. His most popular book is the ‘Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan‘ and his tales in film ‘Kwaidan‘.

Thanks to him, the cultures of Europe, America and Japan met altogether by his lectures, texts, tales and writings. Also Ireland honoured him by opening the Lafkadio Hearn Memorial Gardens in the coastal town of Tramore. This place was where Hearn spent his childhood years.

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