yot1Ghost stories wend their way from Noh, Kabuki and the Bunraku puppet theater all the way through “J Horror” and the vengeful ghost ladies with invasive hair of today. There are many tales of love, bitterness and vengeful ghosts, but like a certain Scottish play, Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan is unique in having a curse associated with it. Oiwa is one of the pre-eminent ghost ladies, and her story was so powerful that her character became, in some sense, real. In his play, Tsuruya integrated a 17th Century account of a woman named Oiwa who died and came back as a ghost to punish her unfaithful husband. And in at least one production, the audience was told that between acts Oiwa was watching them and could even be seated beside or behind them to spooky effect.

Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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