Narrating Gender Reality in Japanese Folktale Tradition
Conclusion: Narrating Gender Reality behind Japanese Folktale Tradition
Folklorists have long attempted to grasp the main theme of Japanese Animal-Wife tales. Nevertheless, generations of sugarcoated adaptations misled their efforts into misconstruing gender images as actually narrated in the tales. Accordingly, those adaptations often thwart attempts to look deeply into the sociocultural contexts that helped to shape the tales at their early stage of development. Consequently, gender roles that the main theme imposes on the tales’ characters remain obscure, hidden away by the adaptations that have become so popular in Japanese storytelling communities.
The narrative setting of every Japanese Animal-Wife tale centers on married life. The animal woman’s proposal and separation begin and end every plot development. However much these plot elements originated as a figment of someone’s imagination, actual marriage customs and forms of domestic gender interaction in some way informed them. In other words, folktales are fantasy, but they arise from actual occurrences in folk life–in this case, the social and domestic affairs of the communities that create them. Understanding this position helps to open the way for demystifying gender stereotypes behind Japanese Animal-Wife tales in order to grasp the original forms of gender expression that originally shaped the main theme of the tales.
In his book “And They Are Still Living Happily Ever After,” Lutz Röhrich appropriately remarks that “[t]he portrayal of real people is the central theme [of folktales] … it is the anthropological models and basic patterns of human behavior which are the essence of the...
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