Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum (Matsue), View on the samurai residence's Japanese garden in spring

Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum

House of the 1rst Naturalized Japanese Citizen in Matsue

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Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum is located in the historical city center of Matsue. It is established in the former house of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, a British author and 1rst foreigner to be naturalized Japanese citizen at the end of the 19th century under the name of Koizumi Yakumo.

Of Irish and British descent from his father, and Greek from his mother, Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (1850 – 1904) was a writer and a journalist of the 2nd half of the 19th century. He lived in several countries, including the United States and France, on the Caribbean Martinique Island, then moved to Japan in 1890 where he settled. 6 years later, he received Japanese citizenship and takes the name of Koizumi Yakumo, from his wife’s surname Koizumi Setsuko. He thus became one of the 1rst Europeans to be naturalized in Japan.

Appointed professor at the university, he spent his later days in Tokyo, after living in several regional cities, and especially over 1 year in Matsue. The small feudal town remembered his temporary citizen and in 1934 dedicated him a memorial museum located in his former residence: a samurai house in the Shiomi Nawate street, along the moats of Matsue Castle 🏯.

Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum (Matsue), Entrance of the old residence

Samurai residence converted into a museum

Completely refurbished in July 2016, the museum welcomes its visitors in a recent building, that houses the main permanent exhibition on Hearn’s life in Japan and his abundant literary work. He was for example:

  • Fond of legends and folktales about yokai ghost-spirits told by his wife, that he later introduced to a Western audience; as well as,
  • A reputed English translator of French classical literature (he translated novels by Maupassant, Hugo and Zola).

The visit continues inside the former samurai residence, in its original condition and surrounded by a lovely small Japanese garden. In the main room, you’ll see an elevated desk adapted to the size of the writer. As a man of letters, Koizumi Yakumo was not particularly wealthy and his house can help figure the population’s living conditions at the times.

Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum (Matsue), Inside view on the samurai residence

Blind in one eye since an early age, Lafcadio Hearn never ceased to travel despite his handicap. He was open-minded and became interested in the various different cultures he encountered. Japan was for him a special place as his last home and place of eternal rest are there: his grave can be found at the Zoshigaya cemetery in the greater Tokyo. As for his house in Matsue, it is one of the city center’s main touristic sites.

⬇️ Further down this page, discover our visit guide in Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum and around.
By Kanpai Updated on June 25, 2024 Musée Mémorial Lafcadio Hearn