When you hear someone gushing about Japan, what comes first into your mind?

Cherry blossoms? Anime shows? J-pop music?

You see, Japan is more than just having cherry blossoms flourish every spring. It’s more than just having anime shows dominate television networks. It’s more than just having J-pop music lead billboard charts.

Japan is best known for 4 things: history, culture, etiquette, and people – all of which perfectly represents the whole country: the Land of the Rising Sun, which shines brightly across other lands. But you know what? There’s more to Japan. There’s more to Japan having a rich history, a vibrant culture, a traditional etiquette, and disciplined people – even visitors who are saying more than just ohayou gozaimasu Japanese greetings.

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s Japanese folklore in a nutshell:

For starters, Japanese folklore is also best known for 4 things: religion, arts, clothes, and tales.

In religion, there’s Shinto. Better known as “kami-no-michi,” Shinto is a kind of ethnic religion that primarily involves rituals connecting Japan’s past and present. It has many forms – including Shrine Shinto, which involves ranking and priesthood; Folk Shinto, which involves divination and healing; and Sect Shinto, which involves 13 kinds of sects like Confucian and purification.

In arts, there’s crafting. This includes making “netsuke” or mini sculptures that can be made from wood and “shiragaki” or stoneware that can be made from clay. This also involves a type of art called representation, such as that of “ema” or wooden plaques depicting animals and “koinobori” or carp-shaped banners depicting Children’s Day.

In clothes, there’s weaving. This includes making “kasa” or hat made from bamboo strips and “mino” or rain cape made from rice straw. Both of these clothing articles are used to understand Japan’s history and culture even more, as well as glimpse into how people live then and now and how they uphold tradition in the best way possible.

As for tales, there are animals. This includes “kitsune” or fox that’s described to be intelligent and magical, as well as having the ability to shapeshift. This also includes “tanuki” or raccoon dog that’s described to be playful and friendly, as well as naive and forgetful. The tanuki is also described to have the ability to shapeshift, just like the kitsune.

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