Guerillaneedles

Japanese mythology reference

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Hi, I'm absolutely desperate to learn more about the stories and reference behind Japanese tattooing. I'm obviously interested in picture books, but more than that I'd like to learn the tales so I can better understand the imagery. If anyone has any recommendations (books or websites) if be grateful. I've tried searching with no luck. Thanks in advance. 

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I hadn't realized I wanted this until I read your post. Horitomo's MonMon Cats book actually does go into detail about the imagery's symbolism and history but, the book is short and meant for flash and the history is more of like a plaque under an exhibit.  Its background to improve appreciation of the picture.

But I too would love more websites and books.

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3 hours ago, Guerillaneedles said:

Hi, I'm absolutely desperate to learn more about the stories and reference behind Japanese tattooing. I'm obviously interested in picture books, but more than that I'd like to learn the tales so I can better understand the imagery. If anyone has any recommendations (books or websites) if be grateful. I've tried searching with no luck. Thanks in advance. 



 
 
Retailer wise, Gomineko is a book seller that focusses on tattoo references. She's an excellent resource for purchasing books but depending on where you are at, it can take several months for books to arrive and there are no notifications of shipping/tracking. Also she is more expensive than other resources. Some people love her due to her inventory, while others not so much due to the price, lag or non-delivery. 
 
If you are fortunate enough live near a Kinokuniya book store, their books in their tattoo/woodblock section can range from decent to pretty good. They're a Japanese book retailer and have a few shops across the US. They sell the same books as Gomineko but are cheaper. They can also order books for you if you know exactly what you are looking for.
 
That said, actual material wise, for general symbolism,"Bushido" and "Tattoos of the Floating World" by Takahiro Kitamura are excellent resources. I don't know the name of it but it looks like Horibenny just came out with a new book that at glance appears to be decent for introductory info on motifs too. Check out Amazon for all.
 
For myths, study the source material. Read books on Japanese mythology and books on Woodblock print artists. There will often be descriptions about the scenes in woodblock prints. That can often give you enough information to research further about a subject on your own. 
 
Regarding mythology, read the "Kojiki" and the "Taiheiki". Both are translated in english and chronicle stories of the origin of/early Japan and medieval Japan. Another book I've found is called "Japanese Mythology" by Michael Ashkenazi. These books tell stories about deities and ancient heroes that are often subjects in Japanese motifs. I wish I had read the "Kojiki" sooner. Not regretting what I have but I feel I may have chosen different subjects if I had. Things I had written off earlier, I gained new appreciation for after reading more about them.
 
There are tons of information out there. I feel it's much easier to learn about now, than it was even a few years ago. Hope this helps. 

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6 hours ago, Lance said:


 
 
Retailer wise, Gomineko is a book seller that focusses on tattoo references. She's an excellent resource for purchasing books but depending on where you are at, it can take several months for books to arrive and there are no notifications of shipping/tracking. Also she is more expensive than other resources. Some people love her due to her inventory, while others not so much due to the price, lag or non-delivery. 
 
If you are fortunate enough live near a Kinokuniya book store, their books in their tattoo/woodblock section can range from decent to pretty good. They're a Japanese book retailer and have a few shops across the US. They sell the same books as Gomineko but are cheaper. They can also order books for you if you know exactly what you are looking for.
 
That said, actual material wise, for general symbolism,"Bushido" and "Tattoos of the Floating World" by Takahiro Kitamura are excellent resources. I don't know the name of it but it looks like Horibenny just came out with a new book that at glance appears to be decent for introductory info on motifs too. Check out Amazon for all.
 
For myths, study the source material. Read books on Japanese mythology and books on Woodblock print artists. There will often be descriptions about the scenes in woodblock prints. That can often give you enough information to research further about a subject on your own. 
 
Regarding mythology, read the "Kojiki" and the "Taiheiki". Both are translated in english and chronicle stories of the origin of/early Japan and medieval Japan. Another book I've found is called "Japanese Mythology" by Michael Ashkenazi. These books tell stories about deities and ancient heroes that are often subjects in Japanese motifs. I wish I had read the "Kojiki" sooner. Not regretting what I have but I feel I may have chosen different subjects if I had. Things I had written off earlier, I gained new appreciation for after reading more about them.
 
There are tons of information out there. I feel it's much easier to learn about now, than it was even a few years ago. Hope this helps. 

This is a great start thanks. I've ordered from crystal before and I'm trying to avoid it now as it's always such a pain! My last order was over 6 months to get to me. I'll go and try and find those other books now. I'm in the UK so fingers crossed. 

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I started the Kojiki - wow! I'm a bit sad I can't  read Japanese because I definitely feel that the names of the deities (of which there are many) lose something in translation. Plus the book I have has about an inch of actual translation of the text then the rest of the page is footnotes on phonetics and translation. Very dense reading but I'm going to stick with it. 

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This thread is great. Ive ordered over 20 books in the last few months in search of information and it can be difficult to find. If I could read Japanese It'd be much less difficult!

I have just ordered Kojiki and Japanese Mythology. As far as books I own that have useless information, I dont have much. Mostly picture books of tattoos and Ukiyo-e. Most of my information comes from tattooers or the internet.

Id be cool if we could start a Last Sparrow refference club and discuss/recommend books /documentaries/images with each other. My library is a decent size and I feel I have enough obscure books/refference  to be able to add something to the conversation.

Im not sure how much intrest there would be in that, tho.

 

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Been chatting to a colleague who's a big fan of Japanese. He suggested looking at esoteric Buddhism for some more recognisable deities (personally I'm enjoying reading about a deity whose private parts set on fire because she gave birth to so many islands/other deities). He also suggested looking at Chinese Buddhism as I believe there's a lot of crossover /pollination between the two cultures. 

Edited by Guerillaneedles

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On August 17, 2016 at 1:15 AM, Guerillaneedles said:

I started the Kojiki - wow! I'm a bit sad I can't  read Japanese because I definitely feel that the names of the deities (of which there are many) lose something in translation. Plus the book I have has about an inch of actual translation of the text then the rest of the page is footnotes on phonetics and translation. Very dense reading but I'm going to stick with it. 

I forgot to mention the version translated by Gustav Heldt. A thinner book than others so it's probably missing many nuances but it's a much much easier read. Also I mentioned the Taheiki previously, but I also meant the Nihon Shoki or Nihongi. 

Also esoteric buddhism as your friend mentioned would be good too. Good luck on that one. I've never been very good at figuring the Dieties out and understanding all the various gestures and such.

Edited by Lance

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I picked up the two books recommended, the Kojiki and Japanese Mythology. 

The Kojiki is some heavy reading for sure, like most ancient texts. Got a few pages in before putting it down. The Japanese Mythology book on the other hand is fantastic. Its a glossary of a bunch of Japanese characters and myths, and has a introductory section about 100 pages long explaining the context of Japanese culture, history and religion. It outlines the Kojiki and the other "official" ancient myth books. Great buy.

I should pick up the Kojiki again some time soon.

 

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On Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 6:07 PM, a_beukeveld said:

I picked up the two books recommended, the Kojiki and Japanese Mythology. 

The Kojiki is some heavy reading for sure, like most ancient texts. Got a few pages in before putting it down. The Japanese Mythology book on the other hand is fantastic. Its a glossary of a bunch of Japanese characters and myths, and has a introductory section about 100 pages long explaining the context of Japanese culture, history and religion. It outlines the Kojiki and the other "official" ancient myth books. Great buy.

I should pick up the Kojiki again some time soon.

 

I'll have to check out the Japanese mythology one. The Kojiki is on my bedside table, I can make it through a few pages at a time! Haha 

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Shunga happens to translate, rarely, to Americana through some odd deets on the East Coast. Sang Bleu would be a good place to start. I don't usually call it heaven and hell to be a bearer of bad news, but these things are so well protected that I have very little information to give. Does the Chinese Japanese translation work towards that? I'd just start learning every rule that you can. Rules are the best.

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