Legends Collected by Yanagita Kunio & Sasaki Kizen
Translated and Edited by Ronald A. Morse
Illustrated by Marjorie C. Leggitt
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (June 5, 2015)
BOOK BACKGROUND INFORMATION
It is not well known, but the Japanese language book by folklorist Yanagita Kunio, Tono monogatari 遠野物語 (often translated as Tales of Tono), consists of two independent Japanese language tale collections published at different times (1910 and 1935). The first tale collection of Tono monogatari (the most well-known) was translated into English as The Legends of Tono by Ronald Morse in 1975. It consists of a polished literary collection of 118 Tono tales that were published in 1910.
The second tale collection (or Part II) of Tono monogatari – the collection now translated — was added in 1935 and has 299 original stories. This (in many ways a more interesting) collection has now been translated into English by Ronald A. Morse as Folk Legends from Tono: Japan’s Spirits, Deities, and Phantastic Creatures. It is available from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers in June 2015.
Yanagita Kunio wrote his 1910 Tono monogatari based on tales that he heard from the Tono tale collector Sasaki Kizen. Sasaki compiled and edited the 1935 collection of 299 tales.
JAPAN’S TRADITIONAL SPIRIT WORLD
1 BIOLOGY AND HUMAN EMOTIONS
2 SOULS ADRIFT BETWEEN TWO WORLDS
3 FAMILY, KINSHIP, AND HOUSEHOLD DEITIES
4 SIDESTEPPING MISFORTUNE AND EVIL
5 SURVIVAL ON THE EDGE
6 TRACKING NATURE’S TRICKSTER ANIMALS
7 GLIMPSES OF MODERN MONSTERS
8 NO SPIRIT FORGOTTEN
APPENDIX A: SASAKI KIZEN: JAPAN’S GRIMM
APPENDIX B: BACKGROUND TO THE BOOK
GLOSSARY AND TOPICAL INDEX
Superbly translated and boldly illustrated, this new collection of tales captures the spirit of Japanese peasant culture undergoing rapid transformation into the modern era. By re-envisioning the sequencing of the tales and intertwining insightful annotations into the text, the translator has restored the original mystical charm of the tales. Reminiscent of Japanese woodblocks, the ink illustrations commissioned for the Folk Legends from Tono, mirror the imagery that Japanese villagers envisioned as they listened to a storyteller recite the tales. The cast of characters is rich and varied, as we encounter yokai monsters, shape-shifting foxes, witches, grave robbers, ghosts, heavenly princesses, roaming priests, shamans, quasi-human mountain spirits, murderers, and much more.
ADVANCE COMMENTS ON THE NEW BOOK
“Morse has breathed fresh life into this remarkable collection of folk legends…As an ‘interpreter of Japan’ he follows in not only the footsteps of Yanagita Kunio and Sasaki Kizen, but also those of William Griffis and Lafcadio Hearn in his love and amazing comprehension of Japanese folklore.” MAKINO Yoko, Seijo University, Tokyo
“The short tales assembled here provide a window into the everyday experiences of real people living through times of rapid change in the harsh but rich environment of northeastern Japan…This impeccable translation will become a vital resource for scholars of Japanese history, folklore, rural life, and for anybody interested in good stories.” Michael Dylan Foster, Indiana University
“Morse is uniquely qualified to translate these stories because of his personal familiarity with the Tono area.” MINAMI Yaeko, folklorist and granddaughter of Yanagita Kunio
“The residents of Tono are delighted that readers outside of Japan can now enjoy these tales in English.” HONDA Toshiaki, Mayor of Tono City