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Ghosts and the Japanese: Cultural Experience in Japanese Death Legends
The Japanese have ambivalent attitudes toward death, deeply rooted in pre-Buddhist traditions. In this scholarly but accessible work, authors Iwasaka and Toelken show that everyday beliefs and customs--particularly death traditions--offer special insight into the living culture of Japan.
Paperback, 162 pages
Published December 1st 1994 by Utah State University Press
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Interesting premise of using ghost legends to discover cultural links to every day life in Japan. Liked every much that there was discussion about the rituals surrounding death and how traditional values can be reflected both in them and the legends that spring up around them. Unfortunately, if you're looking for well told legends they are not here. They are short and concise. Also, the explanations for symbology in the legends is told before the text of the tale itself, leading to some anticlim ...more
I wanted to like this book really badly. It actually contains a lot of really good information, but the presentation suffers. The organization is scattershot and the grammar and sentence structure suffer and become really hard to follow at times. It was clearly written by someone for whom English is not the first language. It's worth the slog if you're interested in the topic, but it IS a slog.
I loved reading about how real ghosts are to the Japanese and many of the famous legends. It's interesting to me what cultures define as "real" and what others dismiss as fantasy or fear. Plus I liked learning about the themes to their ghost stories as well--I think themes like pregnant women ghosts, or any theme, symbolizes something in the culture.
Enjoyable read on Japanese culture (and honestly, I'm almost ashamed of the simplistic grasp I and most westerners have of it after reading this) with folklore, ghost stories, and funerary rites. I would have preferred more of the culture and stories and less talk about the general nature of folklore, but that aside it's a very enjoyable book.
Feb 08, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it
A great examination of Japanese ghost stories and legends involving customs and beliefs surrounding death, hunger, evil omens, etc. There are several translations of short legends in the text, as well as commentary and insightful exploration.