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 love The 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.
Continue reading “Guest Post: Kuzunoha And The White Fox”
You want some good luck in your life?
Find yourself a tanuki
Those little bastards have balls
Running around drinking and merrymaking
At all times of the day without a care in the world
There’s this old children’s tale that tells you all you need to know
Tan tan tanuki no kintama wa
Kaze mo nai no ni bura bura
You need to be careful because they’re hard to find
And even harder to catch
But it’s worth all the graft
They don’t call me golden balls for nothing
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.
One of the most interesting stories of a woman changing the status quo involves the legendary Empress Jingū, A semi-mythological figure, Empress Jingū’s life is a topic of much debate. Continue reading “Women Warriors: Empress Jingū”
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.
As a Japanese idiom, the Hyakki Yagyo represents the concept of utter pandemonium. It’s the breaking down of the barrier between the human and supernatural world. The time of evil spirits and tricksters running amok through the streets. Continue reading “The Hyakki Yagyo: How To Survive The Night 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 the yokai. 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.
One of the most interesting stories from Yomi depicts the lives of the creator gods of Japan, Izanami and Izanagi. Their tale features themes of sorrow, hope, and sacrifice. Continue reading “Yomi And The Fate Of Izanami And Izanagi”
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.
Continue reading “How Pokémon Reinvented Yokai For A Modern Generation”
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.
Continue reading “Dispelling The Curse Of Muramasa Swords”
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”