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Kwaidan (1964)

Kaidan (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy, Horror | 22 November 1965 (USA)
A collection of four Japanese folk tales with supernatural themes.



(screenplay), (novel) (as Yakumo Koizumi)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
First wife (segment "Kurokami")
Misako Watanabe ...
Second Wife (segment "Kurokami")
Rentarô Mikuni ...
Husband (segment "Kurokami")
Kenjirô Ishiyama ...
Father (segment "Kurokami")
Ranko Akagi ...
Mother (segment "Kurokami")
Fumie Kitahara ...
(segment "Kurokami")
Kappei Matsumoto ...
(segment "Kurokami")
Yoshiko Ieda ...
(segment "Kurokami")
Otome Tsukimiya ...
(segment "Kurokami")
Kenzô Tanaka ...
(segment "Kurokami")
Kiyoshi Nakano ...
(segment "Kurokami")
Mi nokichi (segment "Yuki-Onna")
Keiko Kishi ...
Yuki the Snow Maiden (segment "Yuki-Onna")
Yûko Mochizuki ...
Minokichi's mother (segment "Yuki-Onna")
Kin Sugai ...
Village woman (segment "Yuki-Onna")


This film contains four distinct, separate stories. "Black Hair": A poor samurai who divorces his true love to marry for money, but finds the marriage disastrous and returns to his old wife, only to discover something eerie about her. "The Woman in the Snow": Stranded in a snowstorm, a woodcutter meets an icy spirit in the form of a woman spares his life on the condition that he never tell anyone about her. A decade later he forgets his promise. "Hoichi the Earless": Hoichi is a blind musician, living in a monastery who sings so well that a ghostly imperial court commands him to perform the epic ballad of their death battle for them. But the ghosts are draining away his life, and the monks set out to protect him by writing a holy mantra over his body to make him invisible to the ghosts. But they've forgotten something. "In a Cup of Tea": a writer tells the story of a man who keep seeing a mysterious face reflected in his cup of tea. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

snow | samurai | promise | spirit | ghost | See All (281) »


Drama | Fantasy | Horror


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 November 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ghost Stories  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


JPY 350,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (heavily cut) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This is the film adaptation of four stories from the book "Kwaidan: Stories and studies of strange things" by Lafcadio Hearn and is actually a collection of Japanese ghost stories, taken from various sources, some even stemming from China. Originally published in 1904, there are actually seventeen ghost stories in total, as well as insect studies including butterflies, mosquitoes and ants. See more »


Referenced in Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

Japanese Poems
6 January 2006 | by (Switzerland) – See all my reviews

A man returns to his abandoned wife seeking forgiveness and pays for his cruelty. A snow demon and a young man make a pact. A blind priest is summoned by the ghosts of dead warriors to recite the heroic battle that cost them their lives. A samurai is taunted by ghosts in his cup of tea...

Kobayashi's output has been small compared to his contemporaries' (Kurosawa, Ozu...) yet each of his films is an assault on the senses and a visual gem. After unleashing some of Japan's cinematic legends in two of the greatest samurai films ever made (Samurai Rebellion with Toshiro Mifune and the sublime Harakiri with Tatsuya Nakadai), the master moved on to the supernatural with this collection of ghost stories. Filming for the first time in color, Kobayashi wields it like few others before or since, blending spellbinding compositions together and giving us a film of a visual beauty that rivals the best of Kurosawa, Kubrick or Tarkovsky. The eerie feeling of dread is matched only by the film's sheer beauty and power, like watching a moving painting or experiencing a trance.

Kwaidan is not entertaining: it is captivating, bewitching, unique even by it's author's standards. For movie-goers, this is a unique experience. For amateurs of art, it is a feast.


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