Japanese folklore  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The folklore of Japan is heavily influenced by both Shinto and Buddhism, the two primary religions in the country. It often involves humorous or bizarre characters and situations and also includes an assortment of supernatural beings, such as bodhisattva, kami (gods and revered spirits), yōkai (monster-spirits) (such as oni, kappa, and tengu), yūrei (ghosts), dragons, and animals with supernatural powers such as the kitsune (fox), tanuki (raccoon dog), mujina (badger), and bakeneko (transforming cat), as well as sacred objects and possessed objects.

Japanese folklore is often divided into several categories: "mukashibanashi," tales of long ago; "namidabanashi", sad stories; "obakebanashi", ghost stories; "ongaeshibanashi", stories of repaying kindness; "tonchibanashi", witty stories; "waraibanashi", funny stories; and "yokubaribanashi", stories of greed.  It also encompasses Yukar (ユーカラ), or Ainu folktales.

Some well-known Japanese folktales and legends include:

The folklore of Japan has been influenced by foreign literature as well as the kind of spirit worship prevalent all throughout prehistoric Asia. Some stories of ancient India were influential in shaping Japanese stories by providing them with materials. Indian materials were greatly modified and adapted in such a way as would appeal to the sensibilities of common people of Japan in general, transmitted through China and Korea.

The monkey stories of Japanese folklore have been influenced both by the Sanskrit epic Ramayana and the Chinese classic The Journey to the West. The stories mentioned in the Buddhist Jataka tales appears in a modified form in throughout the Japanese collection of popular stories.

In the middle years of the twentieth century storytellers would often travel from town to town telling these stories with special paper illustrations called kamishibai.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Japanese folklore" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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