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sweetsweetstephy's avatar

What are the most popular Japanese myths that you know of?

Asked by sweetsweetstephy (338points) May 10th, 2011

I am working on a project for my Japanese class and I want to talk about Japanese mythology, but I need specific stories because I have a time constraint of 10 minutes.

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17 Answers

The_Idler's avatar

Maybe ask someone who’s taking some kind of Japanese class, know anyone?

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
ragingloli's avatar

You could start here

asmonet's avatar

Never seen someone straight up jump to Spanglish on here. I was gonna give you what @ragingloli did. So, instead I will just say – do what he told you.

snowberry's avatar

Hello, I’m on my mother’s account and I just got back from 8 months in Japan. I hope that I can help you.

I would suggest referring to the story of Miamoto Mushashi. He is the most popular historical figure in Japan and he was known as the strongest samurai to ever live. His biography is available at most libraries. It is currently unknown how much of his story is fact or myth. He is the major national icon of Japan. I hope that this helps!!

Also, I would talk about the traditional shinto creation story in Japan. The story of Inari and how he came to be would also be a very good idea. Inari is the god of rice and his servants are kitsune.

I hope that this helps and that you have a fantastic presentation!!! ^_^

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
jaytkay's avatar

Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat, predecessor to Hello Kitty

..one day [some emperor or other bigshot] passed by a cat, which seemed to wave to him. Taking the cat’s motion as a sign, the unknown nobleman paused and went to it. Diverted from his journey, he realized that he had avoided a trap that had been laid for him just ahead. Since that time, cats have been considered wise and lucky spirits. Many Japanese shrines and homes include the figurine of a cat with one paw upraised as if waving—hence the origin of Maneki Neko

Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat

Damn, that was hard to Google the details. All I could remember was “waving cat and samurai” and Hello Kitty and anime cats have totally junked up the Internet!

snowberry's avatar

So which story are you going to use?

timlaz's avatar

Please can I ask what colour is Maneki Neko?

crisw's avatar

I have always been fascinated by the stories of kitsune.

bob_'s avatar

Does Godzilla count as a myth?

jaytkay's avatar

@timlaz Please can I ask what colour is Maneki Neko?

Some restaurants have ceramic Maneki Nekos for good luck, and they seem to be usually white

And when I Google for pictures they are almost all white with red ears.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
geeky_mama's avatar

The one I heard most often (during the years I lived in Japan) was about Kappa It’s like a cross between a turtle and a person..and there are LOTS of stories about them.

Around Obon (a holiday in August that involves “souls” returning to their ancestral home..but it’s essentially like a national homecoming holiday/“day of the dead” type celebration in Japan..where people go and clean off tombstones and make food offerings to deceased relatives) people are warned off swimming in the water because Kappa might steal your soul.
The REAL reason is that it’s seasonally (in southern Japan where I lived) the peak of the jellyfish season and you’re likely to get stung! So, there is a practical reason behind the seasonal superstition that it’s bad to go swimming in the ocean for the first couple of weeks in August..

longtresses's avatar

Urashima Taro is a Japanese classic. He traveled to the undersea palace and lived with the Sea Princess there, forgetting all notions of time. When he returned, it was 300 hundred years past. Saddened, he had nothing left but a box that the Princess had given him before he left for the journey home, the box she had instructed him not to open. He opened it. A cloud of white smoke rose from the box and aged him rapidly, and he died there on the shore.

How can you not love this story….

sweetsweetstephy's avatar

Thank you all!

And @snowberry: I think we’re (partner and I) are going to use the Miamoto story you mentioned and the Maneki Neko, along with some general background information about Japanese mythology. There’s a lot about them and they are pretty neat. They all are! I love Japanese culture. :)

snowberry's avatar

@sweetsweetstephy Thanks for telling us. My daughter loves, absolutely loves Japan, Japanese culture, and the language. The tsunami did not faze her a bit, and she plans to go back there to help clean up, to teach English, or SOMETHING! LOL.

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