Translated from: Japanese
Translated by: Kugevičiūtė, Dagija
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 2012
„Five-Coloured Deer: Japanese Folk Tales“ – a set of 35 Japanese tales, translated by Dagija Kugevičiūtė in 2012. She was still a student at the University of Newcastle, UK, at the time. It is often said that folk tales is a great way to spark the interest in the culture of a certain country, especially if the said country is as exotic as Japan.
The characters if these tales perfectly demonstrate the importance of honesty and hard work, while those greedy, lazy or committing any other sin tend to suffer greatly. Although the majority of characters are human, not only talking animals, but also mythical creatures such as demons, water spirits or even deities, often show them the importance of upright lifestyle, guiding both unfortunate and those straying from the right path by their own free will. Of course, despite being mainly based on living righteously, it‘s much more than that. There is quite a lot of Japanese mythology (“The Bill Badger”) – there was a belief of a badger being a shapeshifter) or even the explanations of the specific looks of animals (“The bent back of a crawfish”).
During an interview with Violeta Develienė, the translator herself had stated that Lithuanians should learn honesty and consideration towards each other from the Japanese. The tales chosen for the set are also filled to the brim with the Japanese respect not only towards their elders, but to any living creature, and those disobeying the order are punished in lots of different ways.
To conclude, “Five-Coloured Deer” is a great starting point to inspect the Country of the Rising Sun from a different, more childish perspective. And since the tales themselves are not too long, they will captivate any kind of reader.