Charles Dee Mitchell's Reviews > The Legends of Tono

The Legends of Tono by Kunio Yanagita
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's review
Jul 26, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: folklore-myth-epic
Read from July 26 to August 02, 2010

Yanagito Kunio assembled this excellent collection of legends from northeastern Japan in the first decade of the 20th century. Yanagita was influenced by the Grimm brothers, but in only a few cases does he collect "tales," in the manner they did. Except for the occasional historical setting, these are brief accounts of supernatural encounters that have happened within the memory of those speaking with the author. Of course, it could be that if he had been then 50 years earlier, he would have heard the same stories repeated by a different group of respondents also claiming first or secondhand knowledge.

The abductions of women and children by mountain men, uncanny encounters with kami, the spirits of the mountains, divination and folk rituals all figure into the accounts that are seldom more than a paragraph long. It's the straightforward, matter-of-factness of the renditions that give them their cumulative power. They are for the most part simply curious rather than scary, although I would hate to run into the red-faced man who can stand pressed against the wall directly about the front door of your house. Yikes!

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