Dreams, Myths and Fairy Tales in Japan By Hayao Kawai

Dreams, Myths and Fairy Tales in Japan addresses Japanese culture insightfully, exploring the depths of the psyche from both Eastern and Western perspectives, an endeavor the author is uniquely suited to undertake. The present volume is based upon five lectures originally delivered at the prestigious round-table Eranos Conferences in Ascona, Switzerland. Readers interested in Japanese myth and religion, comparative cultural studies, depth psychology or clinical psychology will all find Professor Kawai’s offerings to be remarkably insightful while at the same time practical for their own daily work.
From the contents:
–Interpenetration: Dreams in Medieval Japan 
–Bodies in the Dream Diary of Myôe 
–Japanese Mythology: Balancing the Gods 
–Japanese Fairy Tales: The Aesthetic Solution 
–Torikaebaya: A Tale of Changing Sexual Roles
Professor Hayao Kawai of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto became interested in Western culture at an early age and has spent much of his life as a kind of ’ambassador’ between East and West. He first traveled to the United States in 1959 to study clinical psychology, then spent several years in Zurich training to become a Jungian analyst. In the ensuing years, he became a familiar honored guest at the Eranos Conferences in Ascona. Professor Kawai is the author and editor of more than fifty books on religious and psychological themes, and he has lectured throughout the world. His previous publications in English include “The Japanese Psyche” and “»The Buddhist Priest Myôe: A Life of Dreams”. Dreams, Myths and Fairy Tales in Japan

Kawai is known as an expert in Jungian analysis. I bought this because Marie Mutsuki Mockett referenced the author in Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye. I think I was expecting a bit more depth to the analysis--or more 'meat' overall--whether that be in great new tellings of these stories, or incredible insights. Instead, it comes across as somebody reviewing ancient stories, and throwing out a few ideas. This book is based on five different lectures by the author, but they feel a lot like when a professor gets into a topic, and realizes s/he is running out of time. Kawai lays out the basics (very brief versions, typically) of a Japanese myth, then provides very limited analysis of the overall meaning, or how it fits into the Japanese culture, or how it contrasts with a similar Western story or ideal, like the lecture hour was devoted to the set up, and the analysis never fully happened because the clock ran out. It took me a long time to get through this book, even though there are only about 150 pages of text, basically because it just wasn't all that interesting. Fortunately, it's divided into very short sections, so there are plenty of stopping points along the way. Maybe it would have been better to hear all of this in their original format as lectures. Dreams, Myths and Fairy Tales in Japan


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