Tag: folklore

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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5 Books That Resonate With Slavic Mythos and Folklore

With the Netflix adaptation of The Witcher mere weeks away from dropping, an article about books inspired by Slavic myth and folklore seems more than appropriate. Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series borrows heavily from this lore, and there does appear to be a recent spike in fantasy literature that follows in suit. Granted, the spike itself is not likely because of Sapkowski’s work, there might still be readers of his series who might be interested in reading other work that pulls from the same mythos.

With that in mind, here are five books that resonate with Slavic mythology and folklore.

 

 

1. Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles

 

image via amazon

 

Written by Taisia KitaiskaiaAsk Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles is a compiled book of advice columns written by Baba Yaga, a witch from Slavic folklore who is known for being maternal and helpful to some, but also ruthless to others. She lives in a house that walks on chicken legs, and she has teeth made of iron. She flies around in a gigantic mortar and uses the pestle to steer herself through the sky.

Kitaiskaia, going off of the fact that Baba Yaga is an ancient figure who has seen much and lived much, writes in the style of Baba Yaga extolling advice to folk who mail her life questions. Her words can be cryptic at times, which forces readers to really sit and think on what she is saying. Often times, her advice might come in the form of an allegory, and her wording also demands that readers absorb what she says and sometimes reread that advice column in question. Alternating between stern words for those who might need a wake-up call, to maternal words to strengthen those who are struggling, Baba Yaga provides advice that isn’t just applicable to the people who asked the questions, much of what is said here can be relevant to others as well.

 

 

2. Uprooted

 

image via amazon

 

Written by Naomi NovikUprooted is one part a loose retelling of Rapunzel, one part a dive into Slavic mythos and magical lore, and wholly birthed from the vivid imagination of the writer. Uprooted follows the main character Agnieszka, a girl who hales from a valley that is on the border of a dangerous magical forest that corrupts both people and animal, turning them into proxies that this evil magic can enact violence through. Every ten years, the local sorcerer, the Dragon, will visit the valley to choose a girl to stay with him in his tower, where he has her clean and cook for him in that time. The actual reason behind him doing so is revealed later on in the novel. While living with the Dragon, Agnieszka learns that she, too, is able to wield magic, and she is one of the few who can actually interpret and cast the spells from a book written by Baba Jaga, a spell caster who fell out of time.

Whilst trying to learn how to use her magic in a way that is entirely her own, Agnieszka is also called upon to figure out a way to stop the forest from corrupting and harming more people and, ultimately, swallowing up the entire kingdom.

 

 

3. The bear and the nightingale

 

Image via amazon

 

Written by Katherine ArdenThe Bear and The Nightingale is the first book in a trilogy, and it weaves Slavic and Russian folklore together to create this narrative. This book follows Vasilisa, a girl whose name comes straight out of the fairy tale “Vasilisa the Beautiful.” Arden’s protagonist is confronted with several life-changing obstacles after her father brings home Vasilisa’s stepmother–a woman who wishes to either marry Vasilisa off, or to send her to a convent. While dealing with her stepmother’s cruelty, Vasilisa must also learn to control her magical powers.

This story invokes creatures from Slavic myth like the Rusalka, a water spirit who was once a human, and the Domovoy, who is a household god. There are many other beings who appear in this book and are inspired by Russian and Slavic tales.

 

 

 

4. Wicked Saints

 

image via amazon

 

Wicked Saints, by Emily Duncan, is the first book in a trilogy that deals with vampires inspired by Polish legends and a pantheon of deities that can be traced back to a distinctly Slavic source. This story follows three protagonists: Serefin, a blood mage; Nadya, who can hear the gods; and Malachiasz. The world that they inhabit has been ripped apart by war, and naturally, these three main characters will have a role in defining its future.

As can be assumed from a world that is war-torn, there is a great deal of violence in this narrative. This is not mentioned here to dissuade potential readers, but it is meant to be a word of caution before you start reading. The characters have constantly been referred to as “morally grey” by both critics and Goodreads reviewers, so if you enjoy fantasy stories that do not fall strictly within the good-evil binary (I know I most certainly do), then this might be the story for you.

 

 

5. Finding Baba Yaga: a short novel in verse

 

image via amazon

 

Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse, is the second book on this list that Baba Yaga plays a key role in. Written by Jane Yolen, this novel is completely composed of free-verse poems that details how the protagonist, Natasha, leaves her family and eventually finds her ways to the witch’s house. Entirely told from Natasha’s point of view, this story primarily centers on how she gains her voice and a presence in her own personal narrative.

This is an extremely short read, and it can easily be completed in one sitting. Yolen’s portrayal of Baba Yaga, reveals her to be a distant magical being who, simultaneously, acts as a motherly figure who encourages the girls who come to live with her to grow into strong, autonomous individuals.

 

 

Featured Image Via shri-boomer

 


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arthur rackham

10 Quirky Folklore Facts for #FolkloreThursday

Evil mummified hands, dental hygiene, and dirty, disembodied Japanese foot spirits. Here are ten tweets about folklore around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a reminder that zero out of ten dentists recommend kissing a donkey for strong teeth. Happy Folklore Thursday!

 

Feature Image Via Renegade Tribune

tweet

10 Intriguing Tweets from #FolkloreThursday

Folklore Thursday is a brilliant trend on Twitter which showcases some of the most interesting tidbits from international folklore and mythology. Scrolling through this hashtag is a great way to improve your general knowledge and also a useful way to start exploring the beliefs of ancient cultures. Check out 10 of this week’s most fascinating #FolkloreThursday tweets. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Twitter  

tweet

10 Most Fascinating Tweets for #FolkloreThursday

Folklore Thursday is a brilliant trend on Twitter which showcases some of the most interesting tidbits from international folklore and mythology. Scrolling through this hashtag is a great way to improve your general knowledge and also a useful way to start exploring the beliefs of ancient cultures. Check out 10 of this week’s most fascinating #FolkloreThursday tweets. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Twitter