World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Kunio Yanagita

Article Id: WHEBN0000317127
Reproduction Date:

Title: Kunio Yanagita  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jubokko, Fukusaki, Hyōgo, Minakata Kumagusu, Kappa (folklore), Japanese ethnologists
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Kunio Yanagita

Kunio Yanagita

Kunio Yanagita (柳田 國男 Yanagita Kunio, July 31, 1875 – August 8, 1962) was a Japanese scholar who is often known as the father of Japanese native folkloristics, or minzokugaku.

He was born in Fukusaki, Hyōgo Prefecture. After graduating with a degree in law from Tokyo Imperial University, he became employed as a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce. In the course of his bureaucratic duties, Yanagita had the opportunity to travel throughout mainland Japan. During these business trips, Yanagita became increasingly interested in observing and recording details pertaining to local village customs. Under the influence of literary friends such as the writer Shimazaki Toson, Yanagita published works supposedly based on local oral traditions such as Tales of Tono (1912). He collaborated extensively with folklorist Kizen Sasaki, and they published several books together.

Matsuoka Five brothers

Yanagita's focus on local traditions was part of a larger effort to insert the lives of commoners into narratives of Japanese history. He argued that historical narratives were typically dominated by events pertaining to rulers and high-ranking officials. Yanagita claimed that these narratives focused on elite-centered historical events and ignored the relative uneventfulness and repetition that characterized the lives of ordinary Japanese people across history. He emphasized the unique practices of different groups of common people, such as sanka or mountain dwellers, and island dwellers. His work is frequently groundbreaking and sometimes has unique cultural records.

Major works

Kunio Yanagita's parents' home
Kunio Yanagita・Matsuoka Family's Memorial
  • Tōno Monogatari (遠野物語)
a record of folk legends (as opposed to a folk tale) gathered in Tono, Iwate Prefecture. Famous yōkai in the stories include kappa and zashiki-warashi.[1]
  • Kagyūkō (蝸牛考)
Yanagita revealed that the distribution of dialects for the word snail forms concentric circles on the Japanese archipelago.
  • Momotarō no Tanjō (桃太郎の誕生)
He depicted some facets of Japanese society by analyzing the famous folk tale Momotaro. His methodology was followed by many ethnologists and anthropologists.
  • Kaijō no Michi (海上の道)
He sought the origin of the Japanese culture in Okinawa, though many of his speculations were denied by later researchers. He was inspired by picking up a palm nut borne by the Kuroshio Current when he was wandering on a beach in Iragomisaki, Aichi Prefecture.

See also


  1. ^ Kunio, Yanagita; Translated by Morse, Ronald A. (2008). The Legends of Tono. Lexington Books.  


  • Mori, Kōichi (1980), "Yanagita Kunio: An Interpretive Study", Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 7/2–3: pp. 83–115. Retrieved May 29, 2014.

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.