Handbook of Japanese Mythology / Edition 1

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Overview


Japanese gods, too numerous to count, are known collectively as yaoyorozu-no-kamigami--the eight million. They are the cast of a vast, complex mythology that encompasses two religions, three cultures, and three millennia, one whose ancient deities are still hard at work today.
Handbook of Japanese Mythology makes it easy to travel this vast yet little-known mythological landscape. The book reveals the origins of Japan's myths in the very different realms of Buddhism, Shinto, and folklore, and explores related mythologies of the Ainu and Okinawan cultures and recent myths arising from Japan's encounters with modernization. It then offers vivid retellings of the central Shinto and Buddhist myths, plus descriptions of major historical figures, icons, rituals, and events.
For students or long-time enthusiasts, it is the ideal guide for investigating Japanese reverence for the sun, the imperial family, and the virtues of purity and loyalty. Readers will also learn why sumo wrestlers stomp before each match, how a fussy baby creates thunder, why Japan has a god for soccer, and much more.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Ashkenazi's engaging and informative guidebook begins with 100 pages of context. He emphasizes the historical, religious, and social ground for, and provides an overview of, both Shinto and Buddhist myths. This wonderfully vivid and compact introduction tells the core stories and provides key anthropological data explaining the role(s) of myths. The author's lucid, accessible, and even humorous style lightens the impressive scholarship. His account ranges widely over history and culture, without losing its coherence or relevance to mythology. Shinto stories are linked in a comprehensive narrative; Ashkenazi also includes Ryukyu and Ainu myths. The final two-thirds of the volume is comprised of detailed alphabetical entries for major figures and concepts (with some overlap), annotated print and nonprint sources, a glossary, and an extensive bibliography of primary sources. Individual entries are much more detailed than those in Jeremy Roberts's Japanese Mythology A to Z (Facts On File, 2003) or David Leeming's A Dictionary of Asian Mythology (Oxford, 2001). Japanese art enriches the cultural context. Williams's volume follows the same format, and includes the same scholarly helps (e.g., major entries have references, further readings, and cross-references). There is no primary-sources list, but the annotated print and nonprint section is larger. The introductory essays are half the length of Ashkenazi's and avoid contested issues. Williams is not a graceful stylist. Unclear antecedents, misused words, nonparallel or awkward constructions, and other writing lapses are off-putting and sometimes obscure meaning. Despite the writer's obvious erudition, this presentation of Hindu mythology is unlikely to draw students to the field.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"…engaging and informative guidebook…wonderfully vivid and compact introduction tells the core stories and provides key anthropological data explaining the role(s) of myths. The author's lucid, acessible, and even humorous style lightens the impressive scholarship…Japanese art enriches the cultural context."

-

School Library Journal

"Highly recommended. All college and university collections."

-

Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195332629
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/11/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 388,521
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Ashkenazi is a professional writer and the author of numerous scholarly and encyclopedia articles on Japanese religion and culture. His published works include Matsuri: The Festivals of a Japanese Town, The Essence of Japanese Cuisine, and Sex, Sexuality, and the Anthropologist with Fran Markowitz.

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