Handbook of Japanese Mythology
by Michael Ashkenazi
November 2003, 375pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-57607-467-1
$91, £70, 80€, A125
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-57607-468-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Like a supernatural Senate, Japanese gods often gather in the dry bed of the Heavenly River. Too numerous to count, they are known collectively as yaoyorozu-no-kamigami—the eight million—and are the cast of a vast, complex mythology that encompasses two religions, three cultures, and three millennia, one whose ancient deities are still hard at work today.

An introductory guide to the mythology of Japan—one of the most pervasive yet least understood facets of Japanese culture.

Handbook of Japanese Mythology makes it easy to travel this vast yet little-known mythological landscape. The book reveals the origins of Japan’s myths in the very different realms of Buddhism, Shinto, and folklore, and explores related mythologies of the Ainu and Okinawan cultures and recent myths arising from Japan’s encounters with modernization. It then offers vivid retellings of the central Shinto and Buddhist myths, plus descriptions of major historical figures, icons, rituals, and events.

For students or long-time enthusiasts, it is the ideal guide for investigating Japanese reverence for the sun, the imperial family, and the virtues of purity and loyalty. Readers will also learn why sumo wrestlers stomp before each match, how a fussy baby creates thunder, why Japan has a god for soccer, and much more.


  • An extensive glossary of all Japanese terms used in the text, as well as important concepts and historical features
  • An annotated bibliography citing every print and nonprint source for the book, pointing the way toward further research
Michael Ashkenazi is a professional writer and the author of numerous scholarly and encyclopedia articles on Japanese religion and culture. His published works include Matsuri: The Festivals of a Japanese Town and The Essence of Japanese Cuisine.


"[E]ngaging and informative guidebook . . . wonderfully vivid and compact introduction tells the core stories and provides key anthropological data explaining the role(s) of myths. The author's lucid, acessible, and even humorous style lightens the impressive scholarship . . . Japanese art enriches the cultural context."—School Library Journal, April 1, 2004

"Highly recommended. All college and university collections."—Choice, May 1, 2004
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.