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The Matsue-bound train I boarded at Okayama Station was pointedly named Yakumo, a reference to its destination’s best-known former resident: Greek-Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), whose adopted Japanese name was Yakumo Koizumi.

Although Hearn stayed in Matsue for only a year, he developed a great affection for this castle town and its surrounds, which — far removed from the changes taking place elsewhere — were ripe with tradition, time-embalmed customs, folklore and local superstitions.

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