Questions tagged [japanese-literature]

Questions about works of literature that were originally written in the Japanese language, regardless of whether they were written or published in Japan or elsewhere.

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11
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2answers
203 views

Does this passage in “I Am a Cat” reference a real Western novel?

In Chapter 2 of I Am a Cat (full text of this and preceding chapters available here), the cat makes reference to a particular "western novel" in order to draw an analogy with his master: “Ah, and ...
3
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0answers
43 views

Source of the Japanese story Joseph Campbell tells of a samurai spat upon in The Power of Myth

I'm searching for the source of the Japanese story of a samurai spat upon which Joseph Campbell relates in The Power of Myth. (Oddly, the book has no citation on this). . . . there is a story . . . ...
1
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0answers
37 views

How do the lyrics of “上を向いて歩こう” relate to its English title “Sukiyaki”?

The English title of the Japanese song 上を向いて歩こう is a head scratcher. The lyrics: 上を向いて歩こう 涙がこぼれないように 思い出す 春の日 一人ぽっちの夜 上を向いて歩こう にじんだ星をかぞえて 思い出す 夏の日 一人ぽっちの夜 幸せは 雲の上に 幸せは 空の上に 上を向いて歩こう 涙がこぼれないように 泣きながら ...
1
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0answers
85 views

Need help in appreciating the significance of The Tale of Genji

While spending one complete year each on the study of Japanese and Chinese literature (in translation), it was a pleasure to experience the cultural differences among the Western body of writings and ...
2
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0answers
32 views

Freudian/psychoanalytical interpretation of the triangular relationship in Toradora!

The central theme in the Japanese light novel/manga Toradora! (とらドラ!) around which the entire story unfolds is the love triangle between the male protagonist Takasu Ryuji and his two girl friends, ...
3
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0answers
31 views

Where did the idea of mono no aware come from?

Piggybacking on this question, I am still curious about the mono no aware (物の哀れ) reading of The Tale of Genji. According to Wikipedia: Norinaga's most important works include the Kojiki-den (...
3
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0answers
32 views

Buddhist interpretation of The Tale of Genji

The search for literary sources has been inspired largely by the difficulty scholars have experienced in imagining that a work of the magnitude of The Tale of Genji could have been created without ...
2
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0answers
18 views

What is the nature of the differences between the Kawachi-bon and the Aobyoshi-bon lines of the Tale of Genji manuscripts?

The original manuscripts of The Tale of Genji no longer exist. Royall Tyler writes in the introduction to his translation (Penguin 2003, page xviiii) that by the 13th century, the manuscripts of the ...
3
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0answers
26 views

What exactly does Murasaki Shikibu say about The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter?

Donald Keene comments: [Murasaki Shikibu] dismissed as old-fashioned the kind of unreality present in The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter—the birth of a little girl inside a stalk of bamboo, or Kaguyahime’...
2
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0answers
24 views

What manuscript or manuscripts was the first printed edition of the Tale of Genji based on?

The original manuscript of the 11th-century Japanese novel The Tale of Genji has been lost. According to the Wikipedia article Textual tradition of The Tale of Genji, "the number of manuscript ...
3
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0answers
35 views

Why did Waley choose to transcribe the titles of some chapters as opposed to translating them in The Tale of Genji?

Arthur Waley seems to be a champion, practitioner, and repeat offender of domesticating translation. This Q&A tells us his translation of Journey to the West significantly abridges the original ...
4
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1answer
129 views

Which English translation of The Tale of Genji is the most accurate yet readable?

The Tale of Genji was originally written in an archaic form of Japanese, and has been translated both into modern Japanese and into English multiple times. Wikipedia says "The first English ...
2
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0answers
23 views

Where in the Tale of Genji does it say Genji's affair offends Amaterasu?

From Doris Bargen, The Search for Things Past in the Genji monogatari: The beginning of the Genji, as established by literary tradition, is indeed deceptively matter-of-fact about events of grave ...
4
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1answer
92 views

At the start of 6th Spice and Wolf light novel, what's up with the discrepancy between “like” and “love”?

Note: I'd like to request no spoilers beyond the start of the 6th novel. At the very end of the 4th S&W novel, Lawrence says "I like you". And yet Lawrence embraced Holo. And then— &...
3
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0answers
13 views

Did Akutagawa Ryunosuke influence others?

Akutagawa Ryunosuke's suicide is considered the end of the literary tradition of the Taisho period (see the article "The Disintegrating Machinery of the Modern: Akutagawa Ryūnosuke's Late Writings"), ...
5
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0answers
44 views

Trying to locate source of a story about Japanese storyteller's apprentice who is mistaken for a master

I'm trying to locate the source of a story I remember, for an essay I'm writing. Not sure if the story is fact, fiction, or legend. It concerns an apprentice to a master storyteller in Japan (Rakugo I ...
4
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0answers
54 views

How many “Little People” are in the story-in-the-story in 1Q84?

In Haruki Murakami's novel 1Q84, there is a novella, Air Chrysalis, that plays an important role. It describes some apparently supernatural beings called "the Little People". When the "Little People"...
7
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1answer
78 views

Where can I find details on the original manuscripts for the Miyamoto Musashi texts?

I'm doing a "reliability of the text" study and want to review the reliability of the texts that have been used to substantiate the Miyamoto Musashi texts The Book of the Five Rings and The Path of ...
2
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1answer
50 views

Does 'In a Grove' assume that dead people don't lie?

In a Grove is one of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa's best-known short stories, partly due to Kurosawa's film Rashomon. In the short stories, we get several accounts of the death of samurai Kanazawa no ...
1
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1answer
94 views

“That’s because you’ve already made your wish.” What does it mean?

Haruki Murakami's short story "Birthday Girl", available to read online, is about a girl working part-time as a waiter who gets to make a special wish on her twentieth birthday. In the frame story, ...
2
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0answers
61 views

Who is the second narrator character in Haruki Murakami's “Birthday Girl”?

Haruki Murakami's short story "Birthday Girl", available to read online, is about a girl working part-time as a waiter who gets to make a special wish on her twentieth birthday. Much of it is written ...
4
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0answers
60 views

What was her wish in Haruki Murakami's “Birthday Girl”?

Haruki Murakami's short story "Birthday Girl", available to read online, is about a girl working part-time as a waiter who gets to make a special wish on her twentieth birthday. The first-person ...
9
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0answers
197 views

“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”: English vs. Russian translation?

I recently started reading "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" by Haruki Murakami in English and I'm quite enjoying it. However, I learned that the English version — although well-translated — omits ...
12
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2answers
716 views

Does Nausicaä not develop as a character at all?

There will be spoilers regarding characters from the end of the manga here. In Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no Tani no Naushika) manga, the characters are usually ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

What is the meaning of O-san having a blank face?

When the cat gets his teeth stuck in a rice cake, we see that eventually O-san has to help him: O-san looks at the mistress as if to say, “Why not make him go on dancing?” The mistress would gladly ...
10
votes
3answers
220 views

Do traditional Japanese haikus always describe a moment?

I am currently reading The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield. In it, there are many examples of haikus by Bashō. In them, they always appear to give reference to a time, either explicitly or through ...
2
votes
1answer
124 views

Which book is the maxim 大道無門 from?

From which book is the maxim 大道無門 Zen kōan だいどうむもん "Daidō mumon" "to achieve great understanding there is no single but thousands of ways".
4
votes
2answers
60 views

What Kanji startles Otoko so much?

As I was fighting through the first page of Chapter 7 of Beauty and Sadness (see Dramatis Personae of Beauty and Sadness), I stumbled upon a sentence that is hard to understand. Since I read it in ...
-2
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1answer
34 views

Dramatis Personae of Beauty and Sadness

Beauty and Sadness (美しさと哀しみと Utsukushisa to kanashimi to) clearly isn't an easy read. I had started it some 5 years ago, read till the middle and abandonned it. Now, I picked it up again and found a ...
3
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1answer
215 views

Is there a translation of the 雑兵物語 (zohyo monogatari)?

When I was taking a few notes about Ashigaru, japanese foot soldiers of the jigoku-era, I found that most contemporary illustrations on this page stem from one and the same book by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. ...
3
votes
1answer
98 views

pre-Meji Japanese book/essay about Strategy

Years ago I had a book in my fingers that was somewhat similar to the Art of War by Sun Tsu, but it was from Japan, and focussed in part on specific combat situations and what to do then. So maybe it ...
4
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0answers
34 views

A break in the 5-7-5-7-7 meter?

So I was reading about Waka poetry and then about the tanka meter, when I came across several poems by Ono no Komachi and Narihira. The ついにゆく poem from Narihira has 8 syllables rather than 7 in the ...
1
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0answers
78 views

What is happening in the scene with Coldmoon and the geisha?

In chapter two of I Am a Cat, we see this scene:  As we turned at Hotan’s corner another geisha appeared. She was slim, well-shaped and her shoulders were most beautifully sloped. The way she wore ...
4
votes
1answer
106 views

How did the cat become well known?

In the second chapter of I Am a Cat, we see this: SINCE New Year’s Day I have acquired a certain modest celebrity: so that, though only a cat, I am feeling quietly proud of myself. Which is not ...
5
votes
0answers
77 views

What does the teacher's clothing choice say about him?

In chapter 2 of I Am a Cat we see this chunk of text: He continues to wear his black cotton crested surcoat and, thereunder, a quilted kimono of hand-woven silk which, supposedly a keep-sake of his ...
2
votes
1answer
59 views

Why does the cat call the children 'dear little things' if they treat the cat badly?

The cat in I Am a Cat calls the children 'dear little things': The children, dear little things, now trot off, day after day, to kindergarten: but on their return, they sing songs, bounce balls and ...
5
votes
2answers
108 views

Why should a teacher's cat care less about human robbery?

I started reading Natsume Sōseki's I Am a Cat a week or two ago in preparation for this month's topic challenge, and I came across the following paragraph towards the end of the first chapter (whose ...
5
votes
1answer
166 views

What is the meaning of this tanka by Saigo Hoshi?

What is the meaning of the following tanka by Saigo Hoshi which I came to read today? Now indeed I know That when we said "remember" and we swore it so, it was in "we will forget" ...
14
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1answer
1k views

Why are manga panels read differently than Japanese text?

Japanese is traditionally read in an up-to-down column, then jumps right-to-left to the next column. But all the manga I've ever seen reverse that order for panel flow, so we go from panel to panel ...