5 Books Inspired By Japanese Mythology and Folklore

My exposure to Japanese mythology and folklore actually began when I was in grade school. I started to read and excessive amount of manga, and through that, I took an interest in the folklore and mythos that inspired said stories. I still love the legends and stories, so this has definitely been an article long in the making.

Here are five stories inspired by Japanese mythology and folklore.


1. “Tales of moonlight and Rain”

image via goodreads

Tales of Moonlight and Rain, written by Ueda Akinari, was originally published back in 1776. This is a collection of nine gothic stories that, according to Goodreads: “alludes to the belief that mysterious beings appear on cloudy, rainy nights and in mornings with a lingering moon.” And that is absolutely all I need to pull me into this book. These stories features creatures straight from Japanese lore: demons, goblins, a revenant, and an array of ghosts. These stories pulls from both Japanese and Chinese lore to create beautifully eerie tales the one is sure to take an immense amount of interest in.


2. “shadow of the fox”

image via goodreads


The Shadow of the Fox is the first book in Julie Kagawa‘s Shadow of the Fox series. This story follows Yumeko, a girl who is half kitsune and half human. The word kitsune translates to fox, and it is believed in Japanese lore that foxes can transform into people. Kitsunes are known for being mischievious creatures, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Yumeko also embodies this trait. Yumeko has been raised by monks for the entirety of her life, but when those monks are killed, she must flee with the relic that they guarded whilst alive. She meets up with Kage Tatsumi, a samurai, and they form an alliance in order to find the second half of the relic that Yumeko fled with. While they are searching, they are also pursued by an army of demons. This book was published by Teen Harlequin, so there will likely be some raunchy elements in this book.


3. “empress of all seasons”

image via goodreads


Empress of All Seasons, by Emiko Jean, follows Mari. Mari has been training for her entire life to become the empress of Honoku. Mari has a secret: she is a yōkai who can transform into a terrifying monster. If her true identity is discovered, her life will be forfeit. She teams up with Taro, the prince who does not wish to take the throne, and Akira, a half-yōkai. These three individuals will decide the fate of the nation of Honoku. It should be noted that this book does contain themes of sexual violence and abuse.


4. “red winter”

image via goodreads


Annette Marie‘s Red Winter is the first book of a trilogy. This story follows Emi, a kamigakari (a being who can host a spirit). In Emi’s case, she has spent her entire life preparing to host a goddess within her, uniting her mind, body, and soul with the deity. In all her time preparing, she had never once doubted herself or questioned her fate. Shiro is a yōkai, and the enemy of the goddess that Emi will soon merge with. He is put into a difficult situation when Emi saves his life, because until his debt is repaid, he must do as Emi asks of him. It is also Shiro who will place her in a situation where Emi begins to question her fate for the first time.


5. “Inuyasha: turning back time”

image via goodreads


This series is a classic, and I couldn’t write up this list without including it. Inuyasha: Turning Back Time was written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. This is a manga series that follows the adventures of Kagome, a young girl raised by her father and mother–who both maintain a shrine in contemporary Japan. Within the shrine itself is well that Kagome takes to transport herself from contemporary Japan to feudal Japan. Upon doing this for the first time, she learns that she is the reincarnation of a priestess named Kikyo. She meets Inuyasha, a half-demon/yōkai who, up until she freed him from his enchanted slumber. Together, Inuyasha and Kagome must travel across feudal Japan with their traveling party in search of a magical jewel’s fragments. When these shards are brought back together, the jewel will grant its wearer their heart’s desires. While there are moments where this manga can be raunchy, it is considered a classic. It’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Featured image via Wallpaper Access


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