Japan Release: 1964
Running Time:
183 minutes


Japanese Title


Distributor: Production:

Ninjin Club

Broken into four chapters, each dealing with a different story on the super natural. The first, Black Hair, focuses on a poor samurai who abandons his wife to marry a woman from a rich family, only to be consumed by guilt. The second, The Woman of the Snow, covers a woodcutter's confrontation with the Lady of the Snow. This confrontation results in the death of the woodcutter's friend, who is frozen to death, while he is sparred and sworn to secrecy of the event. In the third chapter, Hoichi the Earless, a blind biwa player called Hoichi is visited by spirits who convince him to play for them while he is unaware of their ghostly nature. The priest at his temple, aware of this deception by the ghosts and the danger for Hoichi, attempt to protect the blind biwa player. The final chapter, In a Cup of Tea, is about a writer who tells the story of a man who sees a mysterious figure in his tea before drinking it, only to be visited by a ghost matching the appearance of the mysterious figure...

Live Action Science Fiction

Box Office - Stock Footage - DVDs - CDs - Pictures - Background - Concept Art - Cut Scenes - Reviews


International Title


Initial US Title

US Distributor: Continental (1965) / Time: 125 Minutes

Alternate Titles

Ghost Story
[Literal translation]


Aliens, SDF & Misc.




Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Writing credits Lafcadio Hearn, Yoko Mizuki
Produced by Shigeru Wakatsuki
Music by Toru Takemitsu
Cinematography by Yoshio Miyajima
Editing by Hisashi Sagara
Production Design by Jusho Toda
Husband, Samurai (Black Hair) Rentaro Mikuni
First wife (Black Hair) Michiyo Aratama
Second Wife (Black Hair) Misako Watanabe
Mother (Black Hair) Ranko Akagi
Father (Black Hair) Kenjiro Ishiyama
Minokichi (The Woman of the Snow) Tatsuya Nakadai
Yuki Mosaku, Lady of the Snow (The Woman of the Snow) Keiko Kishi
Minokichi's Mother (The Woman of the Snow) Yuko Mochizuki
Village Woman (The Woman of the Snow) Noriko Sengoku
Hoichi (Hoichi, the Earless) Katsuo Nakamura
Warrior, Kwaidan (Hoichi, the Earless) Tetsuro Tamba
Priest (Hoichi, the Earless) Takashi Shimura
Attendant (Hoichi, the Earless) Yoichi Hayashi
Yasaku (Hoichi, the Earless) Kunie Tanaka
Kannai, Guard (In a Cup of Tea) Kanemon Nakamura
Writer (In a Cup of Tea) Osamu Takizawa
Old Man (In a Cup of Tea) Seiji Miyaguchi
Publisher (In a Cup of Tea) Ganjiro Nakamura
Shikibu Heinai (In a Cup of Tea) Noboru Nakaya
Ghost Samurai (In a Cup of Tea) Kei Sato
Writer's Wife (In a Cup of Tea) Haruko Sugimura


DVDs and Blu-rays

United States Region 1 Kwaidan Criterion (2000) Order
United States Region 1 Kwaidan Criterion (2015) Order
Japan Region 2 Kwaidan Toho (2003)
United Kingdom Region 2 Kwaidan Eureka (2006)
Australia Region 4 Kwaidan Madman (2006)
United States Blu-Ray Kwaidan Criterion (2015) Order

Background and Trivia

  • On April 17th, 1990, Toho registered the film with the US copyright office with the registration number PA0000517331. The title used was "Kwaidan" with an alternate of "Kaidan" given, an alternative Romaji spelling. Oddly, the film was also registered on December 29th, 1997 alongside Fort Graveyard (1965) under the registration number PA0000898173. While it's common practice to register films multiple times, often with new material/ownership change or a renewal, it's odd that the film was first registered by itself and then done in a joint or bulk registration later. The cited reason is to register it "under GATT/URAA restoration", which was a 1994 agreement aimed at restoring copyright for foreign works that were previously in the public domain in the US. So while likely covered by the 1990 registration, it's possible this was done as an extra precaution and as a result was tossed in while registering another film.
  • The project was initally pitched to Shochiku by the Ninjin Club and was given a green-light. However, Shochiku eventually backed out as production was about to begin, resulting in Ninjin Club scrambling until Toho picked up the distribution for the project. Mentioned in Toho Special Effects Movies: Complete Works (ISBN: 9784864910132).
  • The movie is sometimes noted as being from 1965 rather than 1964. This is likely due to the limited release that the film saw at first. Noted in Toho Special Effects Movies: Complete Works (ISBN: 9784864910132), the movie debuted on December 29th, 1964 in Tokyo. The production then expanded into a wide theatrical release in Japan in 1965.
  • An edited, 161 minute version was screened at the Cannes International Film Festival. For a period, the original Japanese version that was 183 minutes was lost, making the 161 minute edit the one available on home video across various markets. Eventually the original version was found and, after restoration, was finally released to home video by Toho in 2003.