The Other Side of Hospitality—Through a Japanese Folktale—

By: Namiko Haruki

Abstract: “The Crane Wife” is an old Japanese folktale that belongs to the genre of “interspecies marriage” stories. This story can be also read as one of hospitality. The theme of the story is the prohibition “You must not look.” What exactly happens at the moment the taboo is broken and the act of hospitality breaks off? We can examine this problematic moment by referring to Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas. In so doing, it is revealed that a failure of hospitality can simultaneously be a hidden path to its “success.”