Feel the power of Japanese folktales and mythology

Parents when choosing children’s books these days tend to dismiss folklore books and opt in favour of books that they deem to have academic enrichment value.  But the beautiful art and narrative of children’s picturebooks, especially of folklore and mythology, plays a more important role than we know. They stimulate the mind’s eye and imagination in conjunction with the reading of the tale.
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These books help the child follow the narrative of the simple storylines, but feel the energy of the action and meaning of past lives, identify the most fundamental needs and fears of any society, suggest the origin of things (e.g. Above picture of “Origin of the 12 animal-zodiac”) to life the customs, manners and ways of a vanishing society or forgotten past …

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… help understand the deep myths and belief-systems of a vanishing or bygone world; engage in out-of-the-box, non-linear thinking…

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… evince the diverse, and more complex textures, rich colours of a more organic ancient primeval world and society (picture above depicts Ne-no-kuni, the Underworld of the ancient Japanese); tease children into feeling the key dark dangers of life and the elements; engage in quest- or puzzle-solving using wit and simple resources…and imbue age-old values such as courage and valour, and kindness.

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…experience a semi-historical semi-fictional or fantasaical narrative’s mirth, drama and power. They allow even kids to understand the need for external  psychopomp invention and magical superstitious rituals of kings and other important people. Because folklore and myths are a deep heritage handed down from generation to generation, childrens folklore picturebooks are hence an important bridge between this generation and generations past. Last but not least, the children’s folktale picturebooks genre are virtually a child’s first if not early exposure to good art … the simple ink-and-line painting and vibrant colours and textures, often guide and stimulate children to draw and paint well and become little artists too.

Below is a selection of Japanese folklore and mythology presented to children that fulfil all of the above roles.

Kaguyahume ISBN

Kaguyahime ISBN4-265-90805-5

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Issunboshi ISBN4-06-148252-1 Miura Taro ISBN4-06-148257-2

Susanoo's sword ISBN

Susanoo’s sword ISBN4-900656-10-0

Remote country's treasures ISBN

Ookuninushi’s treasures ISBN4-900656-26-7

ISBN

Doll’s Festival in the Forest ISBN 4-8340-1654-4 Tanabata ISBN 4-8340-0512-7

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The Adventures of Big Walnut ISBN4-338-01015-0

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“A parallel world” Stories about the King of Hades and other myths ISBN4-265-03741-0

ISBN4-591-06115-9

ISBN4-591-06115-9


Modern myths and lore continue to be created and can be endearing and enduring too.

ISBN

Under the Cherry Blossom Tree ISBN0-395-84546-7.  Chibi ISBN0-395-72088-5

ISBN

Hachiko ISBN13-978054-723558

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Red Shoes no ISBN (Fuji-publishing Co., Yokohama)

Heritage folktales often have deep anthropological significance and connections with the land, people and past.

Ainu folktales

ISBN

ISBN4-338-08141-4

ISBN

Ainu & Fox ISBN4-338-08142-2

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