My friend who took Japanese Literature last semester contributed this story, since one of the chapters was all about Japanese folktales. This sad story is the first tale comes to her mind, but was only because she misunderstood the plot for the first time reading it and that cost her quite a lot points in midterm. She also was a bit unsatisfied that the man in the story did not receive enough punishment for what he did.
One day, a poor man who lived in Capital learned that a friend he knew was appointed to be the governor of a province far away. He went to the friend and explained his situation, hoping he could get any job available. The friend did offer him a spot on court. This man has a young wife and they were so in love that were inseparable, even though they live in poverty. However, now the man decided to leave his wife for someone new, a richer one who would provide him for the trip and even come with him to the new job to take care of him. Throughout years, though the man missed his first wife dearly, he never went back to visit her until his friend’s term ended.
Upon arrival at the Capital, the man rushed to his old house, found the front gate open and directly went in. The house seemed to be old and ruined. It seemed like no one lived in there for a long time. Nevertheless, he found his wife lying in the house all alone, just like she was in the old days. She saw him came in and greeted him with joy but with no anger. The man told her how he missed her and how he would never leave her again. She looked extremely happy. They laid in each others arm and went to sleep.
In the morning, the sunlight woke the man up. In horror he found a corpse died long ago. In his arm it was not his wife but dried skin over dead bones. He bursted into neighbor’s house and demanded where’s the woman lived next door. The neighbor told him, ever since her husband left her, she was so hurt that she became very sick. Since she was too poor to have anyone take care of her, she quickly passed away, and there was no one there to collect her body. People are afraid to go near that house again because they thought it’s haunted. The man was in deep regret.
I wonder how this story ties to the famous Japanese ghost story Hone-onna. It sounds a lot like Hone-onna’s origin, I’m not sure. Hone-onna means “bone-lady”. In the legend, Hone-onna disguises herself as a gorgeous lady but is actually a skeleton. She seduces men but only to kill them later. How the story ends does not fit the characteristics of Hone-onma though.