First Recorded In The 8Th Century, Ancient Myths And Legends

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First recorded in the 8th century, ancient myths and legends have been a significant influence on Japanese culture and continue to inspire modern literature today. Indeed, children’s literature in most cultures is based on oral tradition and legends, but Japan is different because, according to scholar Ann Helling, “these Japanese picture books and others, with their vivid beauty and impact, must be the oldest printed books in the world that were written for young reader’s pleasure” (Hayashi 1). An investigation into Japanese children’s literature is especially enlightening because from 1641 to 1853, the shogunate of Japan enforced “kaikin,” which banned interactions with foreign countries, thus preserving the culture of Japan by…show more content…
There existed an overwhelming hatred towards the Japanese in the 1940s, and even “the U.S. government preferred to depict the Japanese – soldiers and civilians alike – as an undifferentiated mass of ‘emperor-worshipping’ fanatics” (Miller 83). Although this negative outlook on Japan was partially remedied in the 1950-1970’s with the emergence of a pacifist Japan, tensions persisted. According to American Political and Cultural Perspectives on Japan, Americans “simultaneously admired and feared Japan. Such “schizophrenic” attitudes were reflected in representations of Japan and the Japanese in American popular culture” (Miller 130). Thus, in terms of children’s literature, the rise of American versions of Japanese folktales produced in the 1960’s could correspond to the rise of pacifism in Japan and efforts towards reinstating peaceful Japanese-American relations, but the ambivalence that still existed influenced these children’s books and their representation of Japan. To best understand the motivation behind Japanese children’s literature, it is necessary to understand Japanese views on childhood and the goals of

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