In honor of Halloween coming up, check out this artwork about a spooky game from the Edo period (1603-1868) in Japan: One Hundred Ghost Stories (or Hyakumonogatari Kaidanka in Japanese). In the game, 100 candles were lit in the dark of night, and ghost stories (or kaidan) were told. After each story, 1 candle was blown out making the room darker and darker as time passed. Japanese printmakers also created illustrations of these stories.
Take a look at this artwork and see if you can figure out the frightening tale.
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston has a really cool collection of woodblock prints illustrating these creepy stories. If you like this artwork, check out many more of these awesome prints from 1830-1865 on their website.
100 Ghost Stories
Spooky Art, Culture, and Language Arts Lesson
- Look at and discuss the artwork together with your student(s). (Use this one or any of interest from the MFA Boston collection). Discuss the content, style, and expressions in the picture.
- Have students figure out the story in this artwork and write a narrative essay. Discuss ways to make story more interesting with detailed setting descriptions and interesting plot twists. To help plan their story, they can use the Story Board and/or Character Analysis worksheets from my Art Appreciation Printable Worksheets Bundle.
- Tell student(s) the story of the 100 ghost stories game. (You can find more information on Wikipedia, http://hyakumonogatari.com/, and the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture website)
- Turn off the lights, light a candle(s), and have the student tell their story aloud. Discuss how telling the story aloud is different from reading it. How does it change the feeling of the story?
Extension: Have students write their own creepy story and illustrate it.
What’s your favorite spooky story?
This was originally posted on September 26, 2014.
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