Japan has been on our minds lately, and in our hearts. Looking around at home for something Japanese to write about, I came across this book that I have not read since I was a child.
Japanese Fairy Tales has remained in my consciousness all of these years, albeit in the back a bit. Originally published in 1918, my copy, which had been in my family forever, is from 1928.
The author of the first four tales, Lafcadio Hearn, was a Greek-English journalist who wrote about and interpreted Japanese life -- considered a most "exotic" culture in those days -- to America. He emigrated to Cincinnati, lived in New Orleans for a while, and eventually moved to Japan, where he married a Japanese woman and raised a small family.
The story that I remember most vividly is called The Boy Who Drew Cats, a spooky tale about a boy who loved to draw. Sent to study under a priest, because he was not farmer material, he was sent away with some sage advice: "Avoid large places; --keep to small!" Wandering on, he eventually came to an abandoned temple, where he spent the night. All I'll say is that strange things happened in the night.
Like all fairy tales in every culture, these are cautionary tales and, although the culture and times were different, the stories are universal.
The illustrations are lovely and colorful, although my book is literally falling apart at the seams.
So this is my small but earnest tribute to Japan, a fascinating, colorful, curious country not so different really from our own.