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Japanese Folk Tales and Legends (Myths & Legends) Paperback – 1 Sep 1989

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Product details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New edition edition (1 Sept. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192741403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192741400
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,029,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Learn the Japanese culture through its legends 7 Jan. 2001
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on
Format: Hardcover
One of the most effective ways to learn about a society and the underlying culture is to read the folk tales, legends and nursery rhymes. In more repressive times, one of the few avenues available for criticizing the social and political structure were stories put forward as legends. The Mother Goose tales that now fill children with delight were originally published as satirical pieces, as were Gulliver's Travels and other magical adventures. Reading such stories is enjoyable, but read with the historical backdrop firmly in mind provides insight into how a modern society developed.
This book, taken from the racks of an elementary school library, is a collection of fascinating tales about ancient Japan. From the structure of the stories about fierce honor, pride and adventure, it is clear that they are centuries old. As befits an island nation constructed of mountains, most of the tales involve climbing mountains or sailing the seas. While there are some monsters and magic, many of the tales involve familial piety and loyalty. Some tales involve men of noble birth trying to win the hands of beautiful women, however the general theme is that the hand of a pure woman is won not by cheating, but by performing honorable deeds worthy of reward.
As a student of Asian cultures, I can see many of the aspects of modern Japan germinating in these stories. Personal honor and loyalty is strongly stressed, whether it be to a lord or another family member. Animals are described as having benevolent spirits, often rewarding humans who aid them in moments of distress.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have been conducting a search for similar books about Japanese tales and legends. When they get a little older, I will strongly encourage my children to read this and other related books.
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