Japanese folklore

Japanese folklore

Japanese folklore is the folklore of Japan. It is heavily influenced by both Shinto and Buddhism, the two primary religions in the country. It often involves humorous or bizarre characters and situations and also includes an assortment of supernatural beings, such as bodhisattva, "kami" (gods and revered spirits), "yōkai" (monster-spirits) (such as "oni", "kappa", and "tengu"), "yūrei" (ghosts), dragons, and animals with supernatural powers such as the "kitsune" (fox), "tanuki" (raccoon dog), "mujina" (badger), and "bakeneko" (transforming cat).

Japanese folklore is often divided into several categories: "mukashibanashi," tales of long ago; "namidabanashi", sad stories; "obakebanashi", ghost stories; "ongaeshibanashi", stories of repaying kindness; "tonchibanashi", witty stories; "waraibanashi", funny stories; and "yokubaribanashi", stories of greed.

Some well-known Japanese folktales and legends include:

*The story of Kintarō, the superhuman Golden Boy.
*The story of Momotarō, the "oni"-slaying Peach Boy.
*The story of Urashima Tarō, who rescued a turtle and visited the bottom of the sea.
*The story of Issun-bōshi, the One-inch Boy.
*Bunbuku Chagama, the story of a teakettle which is actually a shape-changing "tanuki".
*The story of the wicked fox-woman Tamamo-no-Mae.
*Shita-kiri Suzume, the story of the tongue-cut sparrow.
*The story of the vengeful Kiyohime, who became a dragon.
*Banchō Sarayashiki, the ghost story of Okiku and the Nine Plates.
*Yotsuya Kaidan, the ghost story of Oiwa.
*Kachi-kachi Yama, the story of a villainous Tanuki and a heroic rabbit.
*Hanasaka Jiisan, the story of the old man that made the flowers bloom
*The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, about a mysterious girl called Kaguya-hime who is said to be from the capital of the moon.

The folklore of Japan has been influenced by foreign literature. Some stories of ancient India were influential in shaping Japanese stories by providing them with materials. Indian materials were greatly modified and adapted in such a way as would appeal to the sensibilities of common people of Japan in general. [Miraculous Stories from the Japanese Buddhist Tradition: The Nihon Ryōiki of the Monk Kyōkai By Kyōkai. Published 1997. Routledge. ISBN 0700704493] [The Sanskrit Epics By John L Brockington. Published 1998. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 9004026428. pp514]

The monkey stories of Japanese folklore have been influenced both by the Sanskrit epic Ramayana and the Chinese classic The Journey to the West. [On the Road to Baghdad Or Traveling Biculturalism: Theorizing a Bicultural Approach to... By Gonul Pultar, ed., Gönül Pultar. Published 2005. New Academia Publishing, LLC. ISBN 0976704218. Page 193] The stories mentioned in the Buddhist Jataka tales appears in a modified form in throughout the Japanese collection of popular stories. [The Hindu World By Sushil Mittal. Published 2004. Routledge. ISBN 0415215277. pp93 ] [Discovering the Arts of Japan: A Historical Overview By Tsuneko S. Sadao, Stephanie Wada. Published 2003. Kodansha International. ISBN 477002939X. pp41]

In the middle years of the twentieth century storytellers would often travel from town to town telling these stories with special paper illustrations called kamishibai.

ee also

*Japanese mythology


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