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Makino Heinei Gets Blown Away in the Storm [Public Domain Image]

Ancient Tales and Folk-lore of Japan

by Richard Gordon Smith


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This is a memorable collection of historical legends and folktales from Japan. Nearly all of them are set in a well-defined time and place, instead of 'once upon a time.' Themes include ghosts; unrequited love across social boundaries; Shinto landscape, tree and ocean spirits; and tales driven by Bushido and Buddhist ethics. Not a few of these yarns end up with someone committing Seppuku.

Smith does not try to dress up the language or narrative for westerners, or sentimentalize the stories. Instead, he tells each story very literally, even when they include supernatural elements. The result is an anthology of Japanese 'magical realist' tales which contemporary readers will find appealing.

Each chapter, with one exception, is illustrated by one or more colorful plates done in a typical 19th century Japanese style, all of which are included in this etext.

Title Page
I. The Golden Hairpin
II. The Spirit Of The Willow Tree
III. Ghost of the Violet Well
IV. Ghost Story of the Flute's Tomb
V. A Haunted Temple in Inaba Province
VI. A Carp Gives a Lesson in Perseverance
VII. Legends Told by a Fisherman on Lake Biwa, At Zeze
VIII. A Miraculous Sword
IX. 'The Procession of Ghosts'
X. A Faithful Servant
XI. Prince Hosokawa's Most Valuable Title-Deeds
XII. The Story of Kato Sayemon
XIII. Great Fire Caused by a Lady's Dress
XIV. History of Awoto Fujitsuna
XV. A Life Saved by a Spider and Two Doves
XVI. Murakami Yoshiteru's Faithfulness
XVII. A Story of Oki Islands
XVIII. Cape of the Woman's Sword
XIX. How Yogodayu Won A Battle
XX. The Isolated or Desolated Island
XXI. Chikubu Island, Lake Biwa
XXII. Reincarnation
XXIII. The Diving-Woman of Oiso Bay
XXIV. Theft And Recovery of a Golden Kwannon
XXV. Saigyo Hoshi's Rock
XXVI. How Masakuni Regained His Sight
XXVII. Sagami Bay
XXVIII. The King of Torijima
XXIX. The Perpetual Life-Giving Wine
XXX. The Hermit's Cave
XXXI. Yosoji's Camellia Tree
XXXII. Whales
XXXIII. The Holy Cherry Tree of Musubi-no-Kami Temple
XXXIV. A Story of Mount Kanzanrei
XXXV. White Bone Mountain
XXXVI. A Stormy Night's Tragedy
XXXVII. The Kakemono Ghost of Aki Province
XXXVIII. White Saké
XXXIX. The Blind Beauty
XL. The Secret of Iidamachi Pond
XLI. The Spirit of Yenoki
XLII. The Spirit of the Lotus Lily
XLIII. The Temple of the Awabi
XLIV. Human Fireflies
XLV. The Chrysanthemum Hermit
XLVI. The Princess Peony
XLVII. The Memorial Cherry Tree
XLVIII. The 'Jirohei' Cherry Tree, Kyoto
XLIX. The Snow Ghost
L. The Snow Tomb
LI. The Dragon-Shaped Plum Tree
LII. The Chessboard Cherry Tree
LIII. The Precious Sword 'Natori no Hoto'
LIV. The White Serpent God
LV. A Festival of the Awabi Fish
LVI. The Spirit of a Willow Tree Saves Family Honour
LVII. The Camphor Tree Tomb