A Classic Collection of Japanese Folk Tales »Nichi Bei



By Florence Sakade, illustrated by Yoshio Hayashi (North Clarendon, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing, 2020, 80 pp., $ 14.99, hardcover)

“Folk Tales From Japan”, compiled by Florence Sakade, is a charming collection of stories that has enchanted children for over 60 years. Previously published under the title “More Favorite Stories of Japanese Children”, it is part of a series “created to share the most beloved tales and legends of children of the East with young readers from all walks of life in the West”. These stories were part of my childhood and I remember them fondly.

Some of the popular tales include:

• “The Bearing Mochi Cakes ”- a story of benevolence and sharing

• “The Princess and the Herd Boy” – a tale explaining the origins of the Tanabata Festival

• “Urashima Taro” – one of the most popular folk tales in Japan

• “The Fairy Crane” – a story about gratitude and what happens when you break a promise

• “Kintaro’s Adventures” – a tale of the famous folk hero boy with super strength

Yoshio Hayashi’s watercolor illustrations bring stories to life. His characters are expressive and vibrant with the pounding of mice mochi cakes to Kintaro and his sister Misuzu having tea and rice balls with their animal friends. Hayashi transports us to an extraordinary world where animals, magical beings and humans all interact.

I teach in an elementary school where the students learn the Japanese language and culture. We read “The Rolling Mochi Cakes ”to our kindergarten and fifth graders performed a piece of“ Urashima Taro. ”These stories continue to captivate and teach young children about Japanese culture and folklore.

Folk Tales From Japan” would make a good book to fall asleep, as most tales are three to five pages long and there are many stories to choose from. It is also a fantastic choice for reading aloud and playing parts of stories. I can see my students playing parts of Kintaro, where Kintaro fights with forest animals or where he learns to jump like a deer. I hope this book becomes a favorite at home or in your classroom.

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