Tag: japanese

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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New Book Promises It Can Teach Anybody How to Do a Split, Including You

Eiko is a yoga instructor at a place in Osaka, Japan, but that’s not all she’s doing these days! She recently published a new book entitled Even the Stiffest People Can Do the Splits in which she details a 4-week stretching regiment, by the end of which even you or I can accomplish our childhood dream of doing a full split!


Eiko has been a YouTube sensation where she uploads videos demonstrating yoga routines to the masses—views on her channel are recorded at having almost 7 million views! In fact, she is so popular in Osaka that children point at her on the streets, calling her “the Queen” because she is the Queen of the Splits. Eiko now hopes to motivate people around the world to become lithe and nimble regardless of their age. Her routines are simple and fun, and, as studies show, such exercises can help someone live their life to the fullest.



Image Via Amazon


The book, Even the Stiffest People Can Do the Splitshas three components to it: The statistical evidence showcasing what a service this can be to your body and mind; Eiko’s own regimented routine for pursuing this lifestyle; and a short story.


The story tells of two employees who want to live better lives, but are incapable of doing so. When a new boss takes over their department, the two must show up to work at 7:30 AM from then on. When they show up to work the next morning, they find that the room they have been directed to is covered with blankets, and it is there that they are taught to stretch and bounce toward far happier lives.


Eiko says she chose these two characters who are dealing with shame in the workplace because they showcase the inferiority complexes many adults have in their lives. If adults can be taught to be flexible, it may trigger a childlike hope that they can accomplish anything.



Image Via NY Times


I myself am considering investing in the book because, at 27-years-old, I can totally relate to the desire to do a split and impress all of my friends. As a child, it always seemed like an unattainable goal, but perhaps with Eiko’s help even the most unattainable goal will result in success!




Feature Image Via NY Times


Japanese Artisan Beautifully Restores 100-Year-Old Japanese-English Dictionary

Japan is a country roughly the size of California, and is home to a staggering 127 million inhabitants. It is a country that prides itself on its workable juxtaposition of the traditional and the modern, and simply refuses to lose its cultural identity among the din of smartphones and bullet trains.


The literacy rate in Japan is one of the highest in the world, at almost 100%. It has its rigorous education system to thank for that. There are actually four different writing systems found in this country—Romanji (a Romanized spelling used to translate Japanese), Katakana (foreign words and names, loanwords, and scientific names), Hitagana (used with Kanji for native Japanese words and grammar), and Kanji, which are adopted Chinese characters.



Image Via Shutterstock


The following images show how Japanese artist Nobuo Okano masterfully restores a tattered 1,000 page dictionary to near-mint condition. Okano is an artisan who specializes in old books and featured on an episode of Shuri, Bakaseru, which translates in English to The Fascinating Craftsman. Okano mends an English-Japanese dictionary and brings it back to life page-by-page with great expertise and care. With a history of its own, this dictionary served its owner since his junior high days through his adult life. Now that his daughter is about to go to college, it’s time for the book to be passed down to the next generation.






Book mending


Book mending


book mending

All Images Via Pinterest


Here’s how the restoration works:


Old glue is cleaned from the book’s spine and images of maps are repaired inside. The most tedious step is when Okano unfolds hundreds of bent page corners with a tweezer and individually irons each page until flat.


The tips of the pages that were stained with purple ink are trimmed with a guillotine paper cutter.


The final step involves constructing a new cover by salvaging the original title and embellishing it on new leather. 


The artisan book mender himself

Image Via Pinterest


This is some fascinating craftsmanship for sure, and the end of the episode saw the father and daughter happy in their exchange. Hope she dosn’t lose this one!


The finished product

The final product. | Image Via Pinterest


Feature Image Via My Modern Met


You Have to Stay in This Japanese Hostel…I Mean Bookcase

I am basically a walking millennial cliche. You know the one–they studied abroad and now they’re all about that wanderlust and fulfilling their heart’s desire through experience. Yup, that’s me! And this new hostel in Japan proves to put all other hostels to shame. 


When studying abroad, you learn quickly that the only way to do it in college without selling a kidney is to use hostels. And they’re amazing. I stayed in hostels all throughout Europe, sometimes for as low as $8 a night, and I must say, I love them. I came across an article about a bookstore-themed hostel in Japan and I might make this my next trip location, just so I can experience this. 





Images Via Bored Panda 


First off, hostels are small and are not very private and you usually share bathrooms and common areas–you’ll get used to it. So, if you’re looking for a place with tons of room and great views and stellar customer service and you have about four suitcases, you will be very disappointed. BUT, if you are backpacking and travelling around the world looking for incredible experiences over comfort, you will love this. Especially if you’re a book lover like me (which you probably are, considering you’re spending your time on Bookstr). 





Images Via Bored Panda


The general mantra of this place is loving the experience of reading and all that it comes with. They have over 1,700 books and offer three different types of rooms: compact, standard, or double. It’s not so much a room, but a bed in the bookshelves as you see above. What they believe is that the calm of reading a good book will ease you to sleep as you lay among some of your favorites. And trust me, staying like this for two nights is completely doable and you will definitely be surprised about how grateful you’ll be for the experience. And you’re sure to connect with tons of other book-lover-travellers who are just like you! 


If you want to see more photos, check out their Instagram. 


Feature Image Via BoredPanda

Bookshelf slanted

Welcome to the Home That Was Designed Around a Bookshelf

These Japanese homeowners are so committed to their books that they designed their entire house around keeping them safe. Their enormous wall-to-wall bookshelf is specifically engineered to withstand earthquakes.


Slanted wall

Image Via Shinsuke Fujii


The bookshelf leans inward, so if an earthquake shakes things up, it won’t shake the books off. It’s a simple idea, but it’s a quirky request for your architect. The homeowners asked for an earthquake-proof bookshelf specifically. The architects at Shinsuke Fujii then had to design the Yokohama City house around this request. The firm stated, “By setting the walls [at a slant], it also expands the space [of the] living room.”


This is kind of funny too. The bookshelf is so enormous that you would ordinarily need a ladder to reach the top. However, it’s slanted just enough that you can simply climb up the lower shelves. Not only does that tidy things up, it also surely makes readers feel a bit like adventurers.


Slanted booksehlf

Image Via Shinsuke Fujii Architects


Because the bookshelf had to be built on a slant, the entire outside of the house looks like it’s lurching over. The homeowners probably have a pretty good sense of humor, or at least some seriously quirky sensibilities. From the outside it looks like the house was designed by some architects with a truly unique vision. But, really, it just looks that way because there’s an earthquake-proof bookshelf inside. Can you even comprehend the degree to which these people love their books?


Slanted house

Image Via Shinsuke Fujii Architects


Feature Image Via Spoon & Tamago