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Essentials of Mukashibanashi

Title: The Essentials of Mukashibanashi: A study of motifs & morals in Japanese folk tales.
Name(s): Wadhams, Erin, author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Bachelor Thesis
Date Issued: 2019-09-18
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: In order to construct a compelling story, it is always important to have a map for guidance. When the story in question is a folk tale from Japan, it is especially important to have an accurate guide, collected and distilled from a study of the body of works in the field—both scholarly and creative—in order to construct a story that is authentic. My final piece follows the general plot structure of Japanese folk tales, contains several common motifs, expresses moral values that are typical of Japanese folk tales and, of course is written in Japanese, utilizing grammatical structures essential to folk tales. While existing works on Japanese folk tales seek to categorize them or examine certain individual elements such as the “heavenly wife” motif or the nature of animals within the folk tales, I have created a piece and accompanying guide that acts as a broader survey of what makes up a Japanese folk tale that can be applicable to most existing tales and help non-specialists and foreign readers understand the essential parts of mukashibanashi. In order to construct an authentic folk tale of my own, I integrated four types of research that allowed me to examine structure, motifs, moral lessons, and grammar and language. I built upon Alan Miller’s study of the plot structure of the “heavenly wife” tales in order to create a general plot progression applicable across a broad range of Japanese folk tales. Using Yanagita Kunio and Seki Keigo’s indices of folk tales, I was able to determine common motifs across a broad array of folk tales. I synthesized work by Nelly Tchalakova and Motoko Fujihiro Huthwaite on ethic norms in Japanese folk literature to create an index of common moral values and lessons that appear in folk tales. Finally, by reading the both original and translated texts of a selection of folk tales, I was able to identify important grammatical trends and make determinations about readership demographic and language expectations for my own work. Using this body of research, I was able to write an original folk tale that is an average of my findings on these four topics.
Identifier: FSU_libsubv1_scholarship_submission_1556306620_82268d7b (IID)
Keywords: japan, japanese, folklore, folk tales, folk literature
Persistent Link to This Record:
Host Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Wadhams, E. (2019). The Essentials of Mukashibanashi: A study of motifs & morals in Japanese folk tales. Retrieved from