The last story in this film is In a Cup of Tea. This is the shortest story and my least favorite. I wonder why they put this story at the last section of the film. The ending of this story is as unfinished as the actual ending of this film. Did I confuse you yet? Keep reading.
The year 1900 Meji era, a writer mysteriously left his book unfinished. The narrator in the film attempts to explain what happened. Around New Year, Lord Sado Nakagawa visited the area and stopped at the temple with his entourage at a temple in Hongo. Kannai one of the travelling men, became thirsty and went to get a cup of water, but soon an apparition appeared in the water, smiling at him. He tossed the water out, but the reflection of a strange man kept appearing when he scooped a new cup of water. Irritated, he drank the water.
Later that evening, the strange man in the cup of water appeared in the manor in human form. He called himself, Heinai Shikibu. Frightened by the appearance, Kannai claimed to never have seen him, when asked if he recognized the mysterious man. Heinai Shikibu got upset when Kannai threw the water on the ground earlier that morning at the temple. Kannai reached his sword and attacked Heinai Shikibu. And then, the “wounded mysterious man” disappeared behind the wall. No one believed him when he said there was an intruder entering the manor.
The next following night, three visitors came to visit Kannai. They claimed to be Heinai Shikibu’s retainer. The visitors said Heinai Shikibu will come back on the 16th of the month to get his revenge. Kannai became angry and started to swing his sword at the visitors. Those ghostly visitors could not be killed because they were not real. Kannai turned into a mad man, laughing hysterically because he could not defeat them.
Then the scene goes back to the writer, who left his book unfinished. The publisher came to check on the writer as the deadline is approaching. It appears that the writer’s suffered from writer’s block and could not come up with a satisfying ending “to a story about a man who swallowed another’s soul.” So he left it for the publisher to come up with an ending. The ending shows the writer inside a big water vase. Very strange.
I personally think this story is confusing no matter how many times I watched it. Writing it out doesn’t make it any better. Did it make any sense to you? Perhaps the way the tale is being told is intentional. Well I guess, as the narrator said, some books are mysteriously unfinished. This tale is in fact very mysterious. The only part I really enjoyed was the three visitors fighting scene. Strangely the three visitors reminds me of Raiden from Mortal Kombat. He is my favorite.
To summarize my entire experience with the film: it did not scare me. Horror and haunting are two different words. Did it succeed at giving me the chills? Maybe Hoichi the Earless did. For the most part, it left me feeling satisfied and grateful that I am alive.