Kunio Yanagita. The Legends of Tono: 100th Anniversary Edition. Translated by Ronald Morse
New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008. 120 pages, 2008 preface, 1975 preface, introduction, index, bibliography, b/w photographs and images. Cloth, US$27.95. ISBN-13: 978-0-7391-2767-4; ISBN-10: 0-7391-2767-5.
THE timing of Ronald Morse's reissue of his lightly revised and updated translation of Yanagita Kunio's seminal Tono Monogatari (The Legends of Tono) is felicitous in at least two senses. Most obviously, this handsome volume commemorates the centennial anniversary of Yanagita's trip to the mountainous region in August of 1909. However, the new edition provides an opportunity to survey some of the intellectual ground covered by folklore studies and its related academic disciplines since the 1970s, when the minzoku bumu (folklore boom) was at its height in Japan and North America. It was during this era that Morse completed his dissertation on Yanagita at Princeton in 1975 and published his original translation of Tono Monogatari (Tokyo: The Japan Foundation, 1975) which has now been out of print for some years. While the primary objective of this review is, of course, to explore the merits and uses of Morse's work, such an evaluation must be framed by the general intellectual shift of the last several decades, a shift that has been characterized at least in part by the ascendency of historicist--as distinct from archetypal--methodologies.
Yanagita Kunio (1875-1962) is famous as the grandfather of Japanese folklore studies (minzokugaku [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]). In Yanagita's vision, folkways blended poetically, often romantically, with agricultural policy, rural community, economic development and a sometimes quixotic search for the origins of Japaneseness, as suggested by the homophonous term for native ethnography or ethnology (minzoku [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]). Tono Monogatari is a brief but powerful fugue to those themes, constructed around...
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