Stories From Japan
Welcome to the incredible world of the Top 13 Stories From Japan – designed especially for kids, children, and little learners of all ages! These wonderful bedtime stories are perfect for you to read online, download in pdf format, or even print for free. Delve into the amazing collection of educational short stories, filled with fascinating tales from the Land of the Rising Sun. Not only are these tales wondrous adventures with pictures, but they’re also easy to read and understand for kids of all ages, with the best selection of fun stories in English.
Engage in story time with a captivating selection of famous fairy tales, from timeless classics to modern favorites, as you explore our read-aloud options or dive into longer narratives. Our compilation of Japanese stories is perfect for girls and boys alike, and will promise enchanting nights filled with adventure, beautiful illustrations, and wholesome morals. Send your little ones to sleep with their imaginations filled with the magic of these stories that are perfect for early years, preschool, kindergarten, elementary students, and even eyfs and toddlers.
The importance of Stories From Japan in children’s lives cannot be understated, as they not only provide fun and engaging entertainment but also help empower their imaginations and cultural understanding. Delight in these incredible tales and the lessons they teach, as you spend quality time together during night time reading sessions, bringing young minds closer to the rich tapestry of Japanese folklore and storytelling. So grab your favorite pillow, dim the lights, and embark on a magical journey through our collection of the Top 13 Stories From Japan!
Top 13 Stories From Japan for kids to read online:
- The Old Man Who Made Trees Blossom: The story is about two old men, one generous and the other selfish. One day, when they put fish traps in the river, the lucky trap belonged to the kind old man. His catch was a dog who he took home and looked after, sharing his food even though they had very little. The dog grew strong, and soon he and the old man went on an adventure, where the dog helped the old man find a pot of gold. The mean old man then borrowed the dog and treated him harshly, but instead of leading him to treasure, the dog led him to a pot of trash. In anger, the mean old man killed the dog, but its grave turned into a beautiful, big tree, and then magically-blooming ashes from the burnt remains of a mortar made from the tree turned ordinary trees into cherry blossoms in the royal garden. The king rewarded the kind old man, while the mean old man ended up in jail.
- My Lord Bag of Rice: The story is centered around a warrior named Fujiwara Hidesato who bravely decides to cross a bridge occupied by a gigantic dragon to find adventure. He is met by the Dragon King of the Lake who seeks his help in defeating a monstrous centipede. With the help of the Dragon King, Hidesato devises a plan to kill the centipede. After defeating the centipede, Hidesato receives four gifts from the Dragon King, one of which is a bag of rice that refills itself, and eventually becomes known as My Lord Bag of Rice.
- The White Hare and the Crocodiles: In this Japanese folktale, a white hare wants to cross the sea to the mainland of Inaba. When he sees a crocodile swimming nearby, he tricked him into forming a bridge with his friends so that he could cross. After the hare jeers at the crocodiles, they plot their revenge and pull out all his fur, leaving him helpless. A kind fairy, Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto, helps the hare to recover and advises him to roll on kaba flowers to regain his fur. Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto then goes to seek the Princess Yakami, who chooses him for his kindness. The White Hare of Inaba became famous, but the fate of the crocodiles remains unknown.
- The God of Spring and the God of Autumn: In this story, we meet a princess who was called the Most Beloved in the World. Many suitors – princes, warriors, and even gods – came to woo her, but she turned them all down. However, when the God of Spring appeared before her in a simple gray robe, she fell in love and married him. The God of Spring had won a bet with his brother, the God of Autumn, who was angry and resentful. Their mother intervened and told them that they would all fade away like autumn leaves or stones sinking in the sea. The story explains why spring is so joyful and autumn so sad.
- Horaizan: The story is about two wise men, Jofuku from China and Wasobiobe from Japan. Jofuku goes on a dangerous journey to find the herb of immortality in order to please the Emperor, but he fails and ends up on the Island of Eternal Youth. Meanwhile, Wasobiobe accidentally arrives on the island and enjoys his time there, but eventually becomes homesick and leaves. He asks a crane to take him back but is warned that he will age quickly and die upon leaving the island. He still insists and is taken back to his homeland, where he dies in the arms of a poor fisherman.
- The Star Lovers: The story tells of the Weaving Maiden, daughter of the God of Light, who spends all her time weaving clothes for the Gods until her father grows angry and gives her a husband. She becomes happy, stops weaving, and is banished from her husband. She starts to weave again, and on the Seventh day of the Seventh moon, the magpies form a bridge for her to be reunited with her husband. True lovers are asked to pray for good weather on this day as rain will stop the magpies from forming the bridge.
- The Black Bowl: The story is about a poor girl who always wears a big black rice bowl on her head. Her mother, on her deathbed, has told her to never remove the bowl until it’s time; the girl promises. She wanders around looking for work, but people mock her and refuse to hire her. Eventually, a kind farmer takes her in and gives her a job in the fields. The farmer’s son becomes interested in her and proposes. On their wedding day, the bowl explodes and rains down jewels, and the groom tells her that her eyes are the most beautiful jewels of all.
- The Good Thunder: The story is about Rai-Den, a powerful god who loved his only son, Rai-Taro. After watching the actions of the people on Earth, Rai-Den sent Rai-Taro to live among them. Rai-Taro chose to live with a poor farmer and his wife who had no children. Rai-Taro grew up to be strong and his ability to predict weather brought wealth to the couple. When Rai-Taro turned eighteen, he returned to his father’s castle. Before leaving, he thanked the couple for teaching him valuable lessons in work, suffering, and love.
- The Teakettle: This is a story about a priest who found an old teakettle in a shop and bought it for a bargain price to use in the Japanese tea ceremony. However, the teakettle turned out to be enchanted and transformed into a badger, entertaining and frightening the priest and his novices. Later, the teakettle and a kettle mender became friends and started a show where the teakettle exhibited his special talents and became famous, making the kettle mender rich. Eventually, the teakettle asked to be presented to a temple as a sacred treasure, and it remained famous and worshipped by some people for years.
- The Flute: The story is about a man in Yedo who loves his wife and daughter but marries a wicked stepmother after his wife dies. The stepmother hates the daughter and eventually kills her. The man discovers what happened after his daughter’s ghostly voice tells him through a bamboo flute she made for him. He avenges his daughter’s death by killing the stepmother and then goes on a pilgrimage, carrying the flute with him.
- The Jellyfish and the Monkey: In ancient Japan, the Dragon King of the Sea wanted a bride and sent his advisors to find a young Dragon Princess to marry. They brought a beautiful young dragon to him and they got married and lived happily for a while until the Dragon Queen became very ill. The doctor said that a live monkey’s liver could cure her and the Dragon King sent a jellyfish to fetch one. The jellyfish tricked the ape into returning with him to the palace, but the ape begged to be allowed to retrieve his liver from his pine tree. The jellyfish agreed, but the ape laughed when they got there and said he couldn’t afford to lose his liver. The jellyfish was punished, his shell was taken away, and he became completely soft from head to toe.
- The Green Willow: The story follows Tomodata, a samurai who embarks on a dangerous mission for his Daimyo, the warlord of Noto. On his journey, he gets lost in a storm and finds shelter in a cottage where he meets Green Willow, a beautiful young girl. Despite his loyalty to his lord and a warning not to look into the eyes of a woman, Tomodata falls deeply in love with Green Willow and they start a life together. However, tragedy strikes when Green Willow dies, and Tomodata spends the rest of his life as a holy wanderer. The story highlights the power and tragedy of forbidden love.
- Schippeitaro: A young warrior goes on an adventure and gets lost in a magical forest where he witnesses dancing cats who warn each other not to tell Schippeitaro. Later, he finds a village where a girl is about to be sacrificed to the Spirit of the Mountain. He borrows the dog Schippeitaro, puts it in the girl’s place in the sacrificial box, and waits for the monster to arrive. When the Spirit of the Mountain opens the box, Schippeitaro attacks and kills it. From that day on, all the girls in the village are safe, and a festival is held every year in memory of the young warrior and Schippeitaro.
In conclusion, the Top 13 Stories From Japan offers a captivating glimpse into the rich culture, history, and traditions of Japan, enthralling young readers with tales of adventure, friendship, and magical encounters. These stories not only ignite the imagination but also provide valuable insights into the values and principles that shape Japanese society. From brave samurais to cunning raccoon dogs, the characters in these tales are sure to leave a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of children around the world, as they discover the beauty and charm of Japan’s time-honored storytelling heritage.