In the film “Ugetsu” and the story “Hoichi the Earless” there are appearances of ghosts and spirits to the living on several occasions. These are further examined below.
ThefilmUgetsu is set during the period of civil wars in Japan in the 16th century in Omi province at the shore of Lake Biwa. The story revolves around two men: Genjuro a craftsman and Tobei who dreams of becoming a samurai, with their wives Miyage and Ohama respectively. Genjuro and Tobei travel to Omizo market to sell some of Genjuro’s potteries. The two make quite a fortune. Tobei who wanted to become a samurai is told by a soldier that he can never be one unless he got his own outfit. The two men head back to their home and Genjuro buys a gift for his wife (Ugetsu).
Amazed by the amount of money they made, they plan to sell more. Their village is attacked by soldiers but the two families manage to escape, save their pots and plan to go and sell them in another market. However, Genjuro sends back Miyage and their son after being warned by a spirit that it was not safe. On their second sale, Tobei, his wife and Genjuro make a lot of money and Tobei sets off to buy a samurai outfit leaving his wife behind who is later assaulted by soldiers while looking for him. Meanwhile, Genjuro meets Lady Wakasa and her servant (ghost) who ask him to deliver pots at their Kutsuki House. She tries to seduce him but later he finds out that she is a spirit. Back at home, their village is attacked by soldiers again and Miyagi is killed, leaving behind their son. Tobei kills an officer and is rewarded by the commander.
In the story “Hoichi the Earless” we see a blind man Hoichi, who is good at playing the Biwa and specifically the tales of the Heike. He is summoned at night by a samurai to perform to a rich family and their visitors at their house. Little did he know that he was being summoned by ghosts. It was not until the monks he wrote on his body the holy mantra, so he could not be seen by the ghosts. However, he forgot his ears which were plucked away by the angry ghosts when they failed to see him because of the holy mantra protection.
From the above, spirits/ghosts appear on several occasions. In the film “Ugetsu” the river spirit appears in form of a man on a boat and claims that he had been killed by the pirates. He sounds warning to the two couples. Lady Wakasa and her servant also come back in a mortal body after their death. She wants to experience love and joy that she missed out on during her lifetime. From this we learn that we should live to our fullest maximize on everything when we still have the gift of life. Miyagi also appears to her husband after her death in their house to comfort him. This acts as an assurance that things will be fine and she promises him that she will always be with him. The above scenarios also show presence of a connection between the spirit and living world (Hearn).
In the story “Hoichi the earless” ghosts appear to blind Hoichi and even summon him to entertain them. We can learn that these ghosts of fallen soldiers were using Hoichi to help reflect on their previous lives and also to connect with the world of the living which apparently, they miss.