Ōba Minako (1930–2007) was captivated by the imaginative world of the mukashibanashi (folktales) and otogi-banashi (fairy tales) of Japan and also by classical Western fairy tales, especially those by the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Andersen. This lifelong fascination helped shape her writing, which often defies conventional categorization. To show how these classical tales and the modern world are seamlessly woven together in Ōba’s consciousness as a feminist sociocultural raconteur, I begin by examining her subversive retelling of Japan’s oldest literary fairy tale, “Taketori monogatari” (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter), before focusing on one of her most thought-provoking modern fairy tales: “Yamauba no bisho” (The Smile of a Mountain Witch). In this allegorical tale the eponymous yamauba (mountain witch) is transported into a modern patriarchal society with all its inherent trials and tribulations.


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pp. 218-233
Launched on MUSE
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