Kwaidan (Kaidan) is a Japanese film that was released in 1965. It was directed by Masaki Kobayashi and was nominated, and won, numerous awards. In 1965 Kwaidan won the Jury Special Prize and was nominated for the Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival, and in 1966 it was nominated for an American Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It is one movie that consists of four different ghost stories, which labels the movie a horror although many fans disagree. The title itself translates into “ghost story”, but is actually an anthology that was taken from stories written by Lafcadio Hearn, who also helped to write the screen play. All four stories are unrelated except that they each center on a ghost.
The first story in Kwaidan, and generally the most well-liked, is labeled “The Black Hair”. It is a story about a poor samurai. He is in love with his wife but finds that his life is very hard, so he decides to leave his faithful wife in order to marry a wealthy woman. She is the daughter of a wealthy lord and he believes that his life will be better, and more fulfilling, if he stays with her. A long time later, the man finds that he still dreams of his first wife. He leaves his second wife and travels back to his first home, to find it tumbling down to the ground. Inside, however, his first wife is in the same place that he left her, as sweet and as wonderful as he remembered. Something, he realizes, is definitely not right at his old home.
"The Woman In The Snow" is the second of the four movies. A woodcutter finds himself in an icy, snowy region and is about to freeze to death when he meets a beautiful woman. She calls herself “Yuki-Onna” and explains that she is an ice-vampire. She tells him that she has the power to spare his life, but he must swear to never reveal that he has met her. The woodcutter agrees and is out of danger, but at what cost?
The third movie is called "Hoichi the Earless." Hoichi is a blind musician player that has the ability to play a beautiful melody about the story of the battle between the Genji and the Heiki clans. He is summoned by a wealthy lord to play his beautiful song over and over again. He finally discovers that it is not a wealthy lord that he is playing for, but is, in fact, the very warriors who died in the battle that he sings of. The ghost warriors want Genji to keep playing, but he refuses, at a terrible cost.
"In a Cup of Tea" is the smallest story of the four. It is about a samurai who finds himself seeing the spirit of a dead samurai when he drinks a cup of tea. He then realizes that he is to be haunted by the ghost of the samurai for a long, long time.