Japanese Children’s Stories

I grew up with Japanese fairy tales because my dad grew up with Japanese fairy tales. It had nothing to do with being Japanese (we aren’t) and everything to do with the stories being magical (they are). My dad told me that when he had kids, he hunted through the bookstore for books from a specific publishing company – Tuttle Press – because the pink fabric cover and stylized illustrations were so familiar to him. I recently found a 2003 copy of one of these Tuttle books in the Favat Children’s Section! This collection includes classics like Momotaro (Peach Boy) and the Grateful Jizo statues, as well as lesser known ones like the Bobtail Monkey and the Magic Teakettle.  I even remember watching cartoons of stories like Urashimotaro in elementary school. What is always so interesting to me is how similar a lot of the fairy tales are to western fairy tales, as if they all came from the same place, fragmenting somewhere along the way, and adding a glass slipper here, a red rose there; a rice cake here, a persimmon there.