Forest stories - one more

Melek Ortabasi mortabas at
Mon Jun 4 23:15:31 EDT 2007

Since the original post requested non-samurai 
movies, it is telling that what unites many of 
the movies/stories suggested is instead the 
element of animistic belief that kami/spirits 
live in the forest, which is often equated with 
the margins of society/civilization. Forest 
usually = mountains in Japanese folklore, given 
that this is a dominant feature of the geography 
anyway. This aesthetic can be found even in a 
brand new movie like _Mushishi_, where the 
mushishi himself starts out as a "normal" human 
being but eventually becomes a part of the slowly 
vanishing spirit world. (In my opinion, the movie 
is disappointing for several reasons, but 
nevertheless.....). Ditto on many of Miyazaki's 
animations, as someone has already pointed out. 
One of the most important texts that highlighted 
the nature of these beliefs, at least from a 
modern perspective, is Yanagita Kunio's _Tôno 
monogatari_ (1910). Izumi Kyôka, "master" of 
gothic fiction (and author of one of the works 
suggested), was by the way a peer of Yanagita's 
and an admirer of his work. Ditto on Miyazawa 
Kenji. Yanagita's book has been made into a movie 
- which I haven't seen and is probably not very 
much like the book (which is not a unified 
narrative but a collection of short, often 
fragmentary sketches) - but it might be worth 
checking out. (look at the listing on imdb). 
There is also a translation of the text into 
English, which has some problems, but is still 
very usable (by Ronald Morse, out of print but 
available in many univ. libraries).

Just my 2 cents; hope it helps.

Melek Ortabasi, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Comparative Literature
Hamilton College
Clinton, NY

**Visiting Researcher at The University of Tokyo, 2006-2007**

More information about the KineJapan mailing list