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Ghosts And The Japanese

Cultural Experience in Japanese Death Legends

Michiko Iwasaka & Barre Toelken

Publication Year: 1994

The Japanese have ambivalent attitudes toward death, deeply rooted in pre-Buddhist traditions. In this scholarly but accessible work, authors Iwasaka and Toelken show that everyday beliefs and customs--particularly death traditions--offer special insight into the living culture of Japan.

Published by: Utah State University Press

TItle Page, Copyright, Dedicatoin

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pp. iii-vi


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pp. vii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

Ghosts and the Japanese is a fine book that has both great scholarly merit and broad appeal. In it Michiko I was aka and Barre Toelken describe Japanese death customs, provide translations of contemporary Japanese ghost legends, and place both within their cultural and historical context. In the process Iwasaka and Toelken have illustrated the many ways in which such legends not only reflect...

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pp. xvii-xx

In spite of a growing interest among Westerners to understand and analyze Japan and the Japanese-much of it sparked by rapidly developing business connections-what largely animates and informs the "Japaneseness" they seek to fathom actually lies where they do not look. People are reading everything possible (and impossible) about Japan that they can lay their hands on. Yet this eager pursuit seems one-dimensional, since people tend to...

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Part I: An Introduction to the Left Stairway

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pp. 1-12

Of the many popular stereotypes about Japan, two of the most common are curiously in opposition. One, based on current successes in business and finance, depicts the Japanese as narrowly ethnocentric and internationally aggressive, and sees their behavior as a holdover from the samurai era. In this view, Japanese business leaders are feudal lords who have only thinly disguised their true identity by shifting from kimono and sword to three-piece suit and computer...

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Part II: Death Customs in Contemporary Japan

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pp. 13-42

It is abundantly clear to anyone interested in Japanese culture that the performative media-theatre, Kabuki, film, and storytelling (such as the kaidan banashi recitals }-are well stocked with stories which feature death, ghosts, ani, and other monsters, and which include the same emotions of revenge, fury, obligation, and frustration that figure centrally as motivations in the folk legends. A favorite among the many topics which form the content of these productions, death and anything...

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Part III: Japanese Death Legends and Vernacular Culture

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pp. 43-124

The legends in this collection are but one genre of the many which make up the traditional expressions of Japanese folklife. Because legends include archaic cultural ideas, antiquarians find in them a record of outmoded, vanished, or "primitive" concepts which have been left behind by the culture as it approached its modern form. To teachers and library storytellers, legends seem to provide relatively safe examples of childish mentality, naive experience, and uncomplicated science. Because of their anonymity and constant...


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pp. 125-131


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pp. 133-138

E-ISBN-13: 9780874213799
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874211795

Publication Year: 1994