The Black Hair

Translated from Konjaku Monogatari

There was a samurai living in poverty in the capitol, who was suddenly summoned to the service of a Lord of a distant land.  The samurai eagerly accepted the offer, but abandoned his wife of many years in favor of taking another woman he desired along with him.

When his responsibilities to the Lord had finished, the samurai returned to the capitol and found himself longing for his old wife.  He went that night to the old house where they had once lived.  It was midnight, and the full autumn moon bathed the home in light.  The gate was open, and the samurai entered his old dwelling only to find his much-missed wife sitting silently by herself.

She showed neither anger nor resentment towards her husband for his ill-use of her, but instead offered him greetings and welcomed him back after his long time away.

The samurai, overcome with emotion, swore to his wife that they would live together from now on and never be parted.  Pleased by the happiness this brought to his wife’s face, the samurai embraced her and they held each other until sleep took them.

The samurai was woken in the morning by the bright morning sun that battered the house more harshly than had the previous autumn moon.  He looked about himself, and found that instead of embracing his wife he was holding a dry corpse, nothing but bits of flesh clinging to bone wrapped in long black hair.

He leapt to his feet and rushed into the neighbors house;

“What happened to the woman who lived next door?”

“Her?  She was abandoned by her husband long ago, and died of an illness brought on by her sorrow. It was just this summer that she died. Because there was no one to care for her or give her a funeral, her body lays still where she died.”

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Matt
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 19:55:00

    Such a tragedy.


  2. Mazyrian
    Oct 19, 2013 @ 07:59:30

    This story is also one of the basis for one of the tales of Ueda Akinari’s Tales of Moonlight and Rain (Asaji ga Yado, The Reed-Choked House in Chambers’s translation)


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  4. han
    Feb 16, 2014 @ 00:19:11

    Sad. A sad one.

    But the wife must be happy at the end for the samurai vows to be together with her forever.


  5. Ethan
    May 05, 2014 @ 03:13:12

    It wasn’t scary 😦


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  7. Anonymous
    Nov 05, 2014 @ 07:36:51

    great story
    i once acted this one out at my japanese class


  8. Anonymous
    Nov 05, 2014 @ 07:46:14

    great story
    i once acted this one out at my japanese class
    would someone happen to have it in japanese for me to read?


  9. Anonymous
    Feb 16, 2015 @ 05:26:31

    i just had the same dream a month ago… that’s creepy


  10. Anonymous
    May 14, 2015 @ 10:45:39

    Gee. So sad.


  11. Ryen James
    Jul 28, 2015 @ 20:50:04

    i once heard a much longer version of this story. last year.
    in it the samurai attaining a job in a far province, (i do not remember which one) had to leave far away. ashamed by his poverty he became depressed and his wife seeing her husband in such agony made him a beautiful komona out of her own hair which she prized very much for its beauty. her husband afterwards complained because it had no mark so his wife made one with the blood flowing from her bit finger. when the samurai arrived there a woman i believe his employers wife say him and coveted him. eventually marrying him. this proceeded for several years until one day the samurai looking upon his new wife found her to be extremely ugly and fat as she had aged and ate much. he was appalled by the difference between his wife’s appearance and the beauty he had been tempted with in her youth. filled with this Epiphany he went back to his home wearing only komona his faithful wife had made him out of her own hair. the ending is the same. i do not remember any thing but those details. but i felt i must share it. i also do not know its origins or author. thank you for your time


  12. Anonymous
    Feb 22, 2016 @ 04:37:27

    my english teacher makes us write about these for homework


  13. Anonymous
    Jun 04, 2016 @ 01:40:53



  14. Unknown
    Jun 21, 2016 @ 20:41:25

    How creepy. Makes me think of a story where a young man saw his sister, dead, on his doorstep, she had a dress made from the hair of her dead mother. Don’t remember where I heard the story but I thought of it all the same.


  15. Luke Jones
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 08:32:45

    There’s an adaptation of this story in the 1964 film “Kwaidan.” One of the most chilling things I’ve ever seen. It’s on Hulu as of this writing, I believe.


  16. Anonymous
    Feb 12, 2017 @ 18:06:16

    The stories are not really scary XD


    • Anonymous
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 17:11:48

      Indeed. This one isn’t scary. The scary one is human bad traits that was described in her husband’s behaviour.


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