It’s January – the days are short and dark and the nights are long and cold. It’s a perfect time of year for sitting around the fire, lighting candles and storytelling!
We’ve been enchanted by a traditional Japanese folktale from the Kyoto Heian era about a woman called Kuzunoha who is secretly a white fox. We’ve seen enchanting metamorphoses in Japanese stories before – we loveThe Chrysanthemum Spirit where the noble lady pines for the chrysanthemums in the palace garden so much that a nobleman appears who is the actual spirit of the flower.
Come with us as we take a closer look at Kuzunoha, to discover a little bit more about Japanese storytelling traditions, and also take a look at the symbolism of the fox in Japan.
Japanese history is filled with stories of legendary figures like Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Sengo Muramasa who helped to shape the time periods they lived in. For every tale of a man who dictated the future of Japan, there are just as many inspirational stories about Japanese women shocking the system. Women Warriors examines the life of these brave souls who went against tradition.
The legend of the samurai is woven into the culture of Japan. Dutiful, stoic and formidable, samurai were bound to the code of bushido, protecting their lords and masters at any cost. In order to carry out their duty, samurai relied on a variety of equipment, and one of their most important assets was armour.
Traditional samurai armour is striking for how intimidating it looks. This was deliberate on the part of the warriors, as they wanted to terrify their opponents in battle. A great amount of detail went into the forging of the armour, with each piece being intricate and durable. Let’s take a closer look at samurai armour and see how it was made. Continue reading “Dissecting The Parts Of Traditional Samurai Armour”→
Japanese folklore is filled with all kinds of supernatural tales that have been passed down from generation to generation. Creatures like the tengu and kitsune are as complex as the stories that have spawned them. Perhaps one of the most significant events in Japanese folklore is the Hyakki Yagyo, otherwise known as the night parade of one hundred demons.
Japanese folklore is filled with spirits and mythical creatures, and one of the most well-known beings is the tengu. Tengu are an important part of Shinto and Buddhism and form part of theyokai. Originally seen as demons, the importance of tengu have changed over time. Many people wear tengu masks and the image has been woven into popular culture. Yamato Magazine is looking into the history of the tengu to see what they are and their significance to Japanese culture. Continue reading “How The Role Of The Tengu Has Changed In Japanese Culture”→
Every culture has their version of hell, and Japan is no different. The Japanese equivalent of the underworld, Yomi, forms an important part of Shinto religion. But unlike the traditional image of hell being a place where the dead are punished for their misdeeds, Yomi is considered a place where all souls exist in a state of purgatory.
Japanese mythology is filled with all kinds of supernatural creatures and monsters, ranging from mischievous kitsune, which take the appearance of foxes, to demonic oni, that live in the mountains and look like trolls. In anime, it’s common for characters to be inspired by fantastical Japanese creatures, and a franchise that does it so well is Pokémon. A lot of Pokémon are based on mythical monsters and some of my favourites have been influenced by yokai, Japanese ghosts and phantoms.
Ancient Japanese sword makers were known as artists who dedicated everything to their craft. They spent countless hours forging steel into weapons that went on to be wielded by famous samurai like Miyamoto Musashi. Some Japanese swordsmiths became as well-known as the people they made weapons for. One of the most infamous names in the swordsmith world is Muramasa Sengo.
Symbols are an important part of any culture and there are many significant images in Japanese folklore. Spirits play a vital role and one of the most important is the kitsune, or fox spirit. Kitsunes are depicted as intelligent shapeshifters whose magical ability increases with age. They have the ability to be benevolent or malicious depending on the situation. Some stories portray them as guardians, while others depict them as tricksters. The ambiguity of the fox makes it an interesting symbol in Japanese folklore, one that’s transitioned into modern pop culture. Continue reading “Tracing The History Of Kitsune In Japanese Folklore And Anime”→
Japanese folklore is filled with all types of creatures, with one of the most enduring being the oni. Considered to be a type of yokai, oni took the form of giant, supernatural trolls. Their demonic appearance gave them an evil reputation. Oni have been identified as bringers of chaos, delighting in the punishment of mortals. The connection to the darkness has translated into pop culture, as oni have appeared in art and literature. However, their role has changed over time to reflect modern interpretations. Continue reading “How The Oni Transformed From A Japanese Demon Into A Pop Culture Icon”→