As a first step toward helping readers to get to know the Japanese spirit, I have selected and illustrated 10 tales from among the many fables, legends, and biographies of great people passed down in Japan from generation to generation since ancient times. In Japan, people become familiar with these stories as part of their home education—classic stories told by strict grandparents, picture books read to them as they sit on a parent’s knees, popular radio and television programs, movies, and so on. They represent the background of the Japanese spirit and are often quoted, albeit in a different form, in Japan’s internationally acclaimed anime and manga. I hope that these stories, and my accompanying Japanese-style illustrations, with their unique tones and sober colors of natural mineral pigments, help to stimulate interest in Japan.
Illustrations and text: Mami Nakamura