Tamiya Iemon Is The Worst

I was lucky enough to be invited back to Teleport City, this time to write about the classic Japanese ghost story, Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan–as well as a few of it’s adaptations on film.

Impoverished samurai meets beautiful and sweet samurai woman, man marries woman, man meets a wealthier woman, man throws wife’s body into the river and marries his new sweetie, terrifying ghost of ex haunts man.

Tamiya Iemon is the absolute worst. I have seen multiple adaptations of Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan, from Keisuke Kinoshita’s Shinshaku Yotsuya Kaidan / Yotsuya Kaidan Part 1 & Part II (1949) to Nobuo Nakagawa’s 1959 adaptation, Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan / The Ghost Story of Yotsuya (1959) to Takashi Miike’s Over Your Dead Body (2014) and even more that I won’t get into here. In each, Iemon remains just as appalling as the first time I saw him. I believe if I saw the adaptations from 1911, 1912, 1925 or even 1937, Tamiya Iemon would still be the absolute worst. It seems like a violation of some law of fictional dynamics or emotional conversation that this should be so, but it nevertheless is. Just in the course of writing this, I have learned a new terrible thing about Iemon every day. Did you know that Iemon not only killed his first wife’s dad, but kicked his second wife’s mom into a canal and left her to drown? Well, now you do. Iemon has been hateful, appalling and absolutely the worst since 1825.

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