When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn More.
With any culture, a string of mythological beliefs is bound to exist. When it comes to Japan, you will surely find some of the fanciest tales and solid characters that exist in their mythological fables. Textbooks are an authentic way to get to know about them. So, we have compiled a list of the best books on Japanese mythology for you to read.
These books will prove to be useful to get to know about the best stories from Japanese mythology!
5 Best Books on Japanese Mythology & Reviews
1. The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: A Field Guide to Japanese Yokai
Author: Matthew Meyer
Publisher: Matthew Meyer
Yokai are the centre of attention about Japanese mythological tales. Thus, you will find a mention of these in most of the stories which are recited by elders. In this book, you will get to read a classic description of these Yokai. As the name of the book suggests, the author structurally draws his text around the infamous night parade of the yokai.
In this descriptive book, the readers will find a startling revelation of facts about the yokai. It is believed that the westerners hold little or no knowledge of the significance of these and hence, carry several false notions about them. Though traditionally, they hold immense cultural value.
The author keeps things realistic and practical with his words, without straying the mind of the reader. Yet, he manages to introduce the influx of yokai existence and appearance with smoothness and grace. For anyone around the globe, reading this book, it is not difficult to understand the true facts about the Yokai. So whether it is about their origin or their peculiar tales, there is much to be read in this book.
Perhaps, Japanese mythology exists bereft of completion without the understanding of the Yokai. So, the next time you plan to study any aspect of Japanese mythology, do not forget to comprehend it in the context of the Yokai, without which these tales are not complete.
Summary: The readers will find themselves in good company with this book which encapsulates a horde of knowledge and information about Japanese mythology because the content is not only engaging but entertaining as well.
2. Japanese Tales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
Author: Royall Tyler
This book is a whimsical compilation of more than two hundred tales on Japanese mythology. The book is the entrance to a mythological journey in the world of Japanese culture and traditions. Each of these tales takes us away into the world of saints and ghosts and magic healers. The author also makes a mention of the demons and deities which are known to exist in Japanese mythology.
These stories capture the essence of jokes, miracles, legends and beliefs, and each of them is crafted with intricate accuracy by the author, which lends credit to the substance of this book. The book does not deem to bore the reader with repetition and instead brings a fresh wave of reflection with each tale. By reading this book, one stands to gain an intense knowledge of the Japanese civilization. But there is also some element of drama and lyrical structure, which makes the knowledge of this book immensely valuable.
It may not be wrong to say that this book taps the window to the long existing culture of Japan. The text of this book is quite irresistible. Many readers would want to complete the book the instant they begin with it. There is a fine balance between the storylines of these tales which are enigmatic and mystical at the same time. Thus, it must be said that the author has done an incredible job in penning this book.
Summary: This masterpiece of a book is something that the readers will appreciate with a whole heart. The fresh perspective that the author has presented in this book will be welcomed with pleasure.
3. Tales of Old Japan: Folklore, Fairy Tales, Ghost Stories and Legends of the Samurai
Author: A.B. Mitford
Publisher: Dover Publications
The author places a historical lens on each page of this book so that the audience can take a wider look at the folktales and lore which he has described in this book. This book is a compilation of the adventures of the author when he made it to Japan. He writes about his perception of the old tales of Japan in this book.
The author finds himself in a unique place to explore the history of Japan, because of his frequent travels to the country. This book his experiences, which he shares wittingly with the rest of the world. The readers will find an expansion of various myths, legends and ghost stories in this book.
The author does not leave the practical side and deems to explore each of these fables with the cultural reality that existed in that time. Thus, the readers will find an apt description of the local people, the Japanese folk lore and the characters from that time. To a great extent, the book proves to be an enriching experience for the reader.
The author leaves no room for boredom or expectation of a different storyline from the readers since he fills the undulating gaps with his precious contribution of words and facts. The result is this book, which is a well spun collection of alphabets and imagination, stoked by the author’s commitment to highlighting the truest aspects of Japanese mythology.
Summary: The reader will find an elaborate mention of Japanese culture and myths which will enlighten them about the beliefs and mysteries surrounding the focus of this book. The cornerstone of this book is the tales of ancient Japan.
4. Japanese Fairy Tales
Author: Yei Theodora Ozaki
Ain’t nothing like a book on fairy tales to really get a grasp over the mythological sentiment of a country. If the readers feel ready to move over the conventional swing of Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, then this book will leave them enlightened to a new world. But the readers must be ready to step into a whole new era of Japanese mythology with this book.
By its very nature, this book happens to be a classic pick for a reader. These books are hard to come by. This book transforms your anticipation of a fairy tale and makes a classic story emerge out of many bits of words and letters. In this book, the author makes a mention of various spiteful gods, encounters with animals and many Japanese descendants.
As it so happens, the book also takes the reader back in the time of ancient Japanese history. The author makes a commendable effort to preserve the quaint Japanese expressions as they should be. Interestingly, the book offers to appeal also to the younger segment of readers, because of its practical and relevant content.
Summary: The book takes away the reader from the mundane track of routine stories. And in return, the author presents them with a fascination that is hard to let go!
5. A Treasury of Japanese Folktales
Author: Yuri Yasuda
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
This children’s book is perhaps one of its kind when it comes to elucidating on Japanese mythology. This book contains the 12 best fairy tales which are regarded in Japanese culture. So, they are a rich insight into the culture and mythology of the Japanese people. The traditional Japanese interpretations laid out in this book never fail to capture the imagination of a young reader.
Working with a dual purpose, this book is also an excellent way to get to some of the Japanese words and start learning the language. There are many adventures in the book which the author talks of. Thus, there is no lack of element or content in this book. In this book, the author clearly revises some of the most important folk tales which are recited to children in Japan. Ultimately, he emerges with stark imagination and captivating text in this book. So, basically, when it comes to Japanese mythology, there cannot be a better book than this to introduce children to the concept.
The author does excellent justice to the characters in the book because he crafts and defines them with clarity. There is no reason why this book should keep you behind on the learning front since each of the stories is beautiful and pleasing to the reader’s imagination.
Summary: The book produces an unexplained impact on the mind of the reader, especially children, who will fall in love with this book. There is a lot to be learnt and understood from this one.
It can be very interesting to read about the mythological aspects of a country and its people. So we hope that this selection of some of the best books on Japanese mythology will please your reading instincts. Do share with us if you have read another book on this subject and would like to recommend it to others.