Asian studies in Lithuania

Japanese Myths and Legends

Composers: Mikailionis, Vaclovas
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 1998
Publisher: Mintis

It is widely known that one of the most complicated religious system is the Japanese one, while their mythology is also considered to be one of the most various mythologies in the world.

As it is said in the prologue of “Japanese Myths and Legends”, in Japan like in no other country myths are still vivid and real nowadays, because the polytheistic system of religions of the Japanese nation is based on them. This, as well as the origin of the religion, the classification of gods and deities and even the impact of the mythology to the modern structure of society, is revealed in the book. However, this book is not a simple collection of myths and their variations, because it reveals not only the pantheon of gods, but also the influence of Buddhism to the local religions as well as its dynamics and importance to the creation of the hierarchy system of the society when the origins of the aristocratic kin and families is explained. Moreover, the book is based on such ancient written sources of Japan as “Kojiki” (古事記), „Fudoki“ (風土記), „Nihon Ryōiki“ (日本霊異記) and more.

The book is presented in a pretty simple way when the original myth is given with the explanations of the compiler of the book. The myths are divided in three parts, one of which is “The Path of the Gods”, the second is “The Path of Buddha” and the third called “Paths and Mistaken Paths of Gods”. This as well as consecutive sequence of myths make the book easy reading and comprehensible. The short dictionary of used terminology and the chronology of ancient Japanese monarchs are also given at the end of the book.

Overall this book could be considered as not only an interesting set of Japanese myths and legends or the source of Japanese history of religion, but even in a sense the interpretation of Japanese ancient literature and useful guide to Japanese history for Lithuanian audience.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU