Japanese Mythology Collection: Japanese Fairy Tales and Aino Folk-Tales (Annotated) with a Historical Introduction
Author: Iwaya Sazanami
Narrated By: Jim D. Johnston
Length: 10 hrs and 06 mins
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Discover fascinating ancient Japanese fairy tales as well as the folk tales of the Ainu/Aino, who are the indigenous people of Japan
Japan is known for producing the best horror movies of all time. The creatures from these movies were often inspired by Japanese mythology—ghosts, demons, and monsters with backstories as colorful as they are scary.
These supernatural beings are often formed from complex emotions that linger beyond death, hence why they are so interesting and terrifying.
The annotations include:
The history of Japan
The history of the Aino people
The first book in this collection, titled Japanese Fairy Tales, was written by Iwaya Sazanami and translated by Yei Theodora Ozaki. Yei was a translator of Japanese short stories and fairy tales who worked in the early 20th century. Her translations were known to be quite liberal, yet despite this, they were rather successful and were reissued several times after she passed away.
Here is a look at some of the fairy tales inside:
My Lord Bag of Rice
The Tongue-Cut Sparrow
The Story of Urashima Taro, the Fisher Lad
The “Shinansha”, or the South Pointing Carriage
The Adventures of Kintaro, the Golden Boy
The Story of Princess Hase: A Story of Old Japan
The Story of the Man Who Did Not Wish to Die
The Bamboo-Cutter and the Moon-Child
The Mirror of Matsuyama a Story of Old Japan
The Goblin of Adachigahara
The Sagacious Monkey and the Boar
The Happy Hunter and the Skillful Fisher
And many more
The second book in this collection is a rare one that is not usually available in audio format. Its title is Aino Folk-Tales by author Basil Chamberlain. Basil was one of the most prominent British Japanologists who was active in Japan during the latter half of the 19th century. He taught Japanese at Tokyo Imperial University. In addition to that, he is responsible for some of the earliest translations of haiku into the English language.
The book goes over the old stories from the Ainu, and although Chamberlain was a bit quick to judge them with distaste, it is clear that his interest in them was genuine. As many say, the book is a product of its time and its author. It is advised to skip the intros by Chamberlain and jump right into the 54 short stories.
Unlike fairy tales, which are made up, folk tales derives from real life phenomena. They are passed on through generations and have a huge importance and influence in the culture of the people as they aim to teach important lessons.
Here is a quick peek at some of the folk tales inside:
The Rat and the Owl
The Loves of the Thunder Gods
Why Dogs Cannot Speak
Why the Cock Cannot Fly
The Origin of the Hare
The Owl and the Tortoise
How a Man Got the Better of Two Foxes
The Man Who Married the Bear-Goddess
The Stolen Charm
The Two Foxes, the Mole, and the Crows
The Punishment of Curiosity
The Kind Giver and the Grudging Giver
And many more
The Ainu way of life was inextricably linked to the land. They have endured a challenging past, as you will discover in this book, and their ancestry is still a mystery to this day.