Ask a Japanese person which part of Japan they most associate with writer Lafcadio Hearn and they are likely to instantly respond: Matsue, a seaside town in Shimane Prefecture.
Hearn is the man who introduced Japan to the West in the Meiji Period (1868-1912) through books such as "Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan." During his 14 years in the country he became a Japanese citizen and even took a Japanese name, Koizumi Yakumo. Matsue is where he lived during his first 15 months in Japan, where he wrote some of his most vivid impressions of the country and where he met his Japanese wife, Setsu. Yet Matsue was not the place that Hearn loved most in Japan. That honor lies with a less well-known destination: Yaizu in Shizuoka Prefecture. Other European writers in Japan — such as Basil Hall Chamberlain — took their vacations at ritzy hotels in hot-spring resort towns such as the historic Fujiya in Hakone. But in the last seven years of his life, Hearn hauled his family no less than six times to what was then a simple, obscure fishing village. Why?
Matsue built the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum in the writer's honor, but Yaizu hosts Japan's other museum devoted to the writer's life. Through a series of fascinating displays and exhibits, the Yaizu Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum traces Hearn's love of the seaside town. Like the other places he resided in Japan, he wrote extensively about this temporary home. Hearn's writings about Yaizu (which he always spelled "Yaidzu") are collected in the book "Lafcadio Hearn at Yaidzu," which combine his original writings in English and the Japanese translations.