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Book Review: Japanese Fairy Tales by Yei Theodora Ozaki

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Book Version: E-book, downloaded from Project Gutenberg

In a nutshell, this book is an English-translated collection of stories, most of them originally written by Sadanami Sanjin. These aren’t meant for people studying folklore, just entertainment. By having Ozaki translate, there are Japanese expressions that have been preserved.

Since Japan is my favorite Asian country and I knew a smidge of their mythology, I thought I would enjoy this book. In all, there are twenty-three tales. I only enjoyed six of them.

With the six fairy tales, three words describe why I like them: sweet, innocent, and magical. All six stories have one or more of these qualities. The stories that best embody sweetness and innocence are “The Adventures of Kintaro, The Golden Boy” and “The Story of Princess Hase”. The former is a good story to tell to little boys, the latter to little girls.

The other stories, “My Lord Bag of Rice” “The Tongue-Cut Sparrow”, and “The South-Pointing Carriage” had interesting elements of fantasy. However, the final story in the book, “The Stones of Empress Jokwa” has the best fantasy and is my favorite story in the book. Considering all I had to struggle through before I read it, it is pretty sad.

The main problem with most of these stories was that they were boring. Sometimes, they were boring for a reason. For instance, stories like “The Bamboo-Cutter and the Moon-Child” and “The Happy Hunter” were too drawn out. Other stories such as “The Farmer and the Badger” and “How The Old Man Lost His Wen” were disturbing because of graphic violence or Satanic moments.

It is only because of my affection for Japan and the aforementioned six stories that I am not deleting this book off my Kindle. However, I almost wish that Project Gutenberg had a collection of Japanese mythology to make up for this book.

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Written by Serena Zola

October 4, 2012 at 7:43 PM

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