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Lafcadio Hearn And Yanagita Kunio: Who Initiated Folklore Studies In Japan?

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Chapter Summary

Yanagita Kunio, who is called the founder of Japanese Minzokugaku (folklore studies), conducted extensive research into, and established the methods and framework for folklore studies in Japan. However, the works of Lafcadio Hearn were already widely read when Yanagita started his folklore studies. Lafcadio Hearn wrote fourteen books on Japan. The first book, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, which established his name as a writer on Japan, is a collection of travel sketches and essays about his stay in the Izumo district. The author examines The Legends of Tono in relation to Hearn's works. It is one of Yanagita's earliest publications and it marks the starting point of Yanagita Kunio as a folklorist. This chapter highlights the motivating and imaginative power inspired by Hearn that later developed into the folklore research Yanagita conducted. For Yanagita, Tono symbolically represented Japan, just as Izumo, 'the Province of Gods', was symbolic for Hearn.

Keywords: folklore studies; Japan; Lafcadio Hearn; The Legends of Tono; Yanagita Kunio



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