Factbook

A Dynamic Compendium of Interesting Japanese Literary and Publishing Facts
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    Book rental and lending schemes have a very long history in Japan[UPDATED: 1-24-2018]

    Historically, book production and consumption in Japan was focused on the country’s aristocrats, Buddhist monks, Shinto priests and society’s upper classes not the mass market. However, in the early 1800s book lending shops started to appear.

    According to historians, their number grew from around 650 in Tokyo (or Edo as it was known then) in 1808 – expanding to meet demand – to 800 by 1832. These shops alongside increasingly high literary rates created demand that supported a very high ratio of approximately 1 lending shop per 1,500 people. The capital had a population of over 1 million at the time making it one of the world’s largest cities.

    Currently, the population per bookstore in Japan is high compared to other nations (estimated at 7,710 per store vs. 23,363 in the United States), but lower than lending shop ratios of the Edo Period. Records also show that there was in fact a book rental shop in Nagoya even earlier, as far back as 1767, which provided a continuous service for 130 years. It built up a collection of more than 20,000 titles during its operating life.
    Book rental and lending schemes have a very long history in Japan Posted by Richard Nathan
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    The most famous Japanese folk tales are: Princess Kaguya, The Grateful Crane and Urashima Taro[UPDATED: 12-20-2017]

    Three famous Japanese folk tales are: Princess Kaguya (extra-terrestrial supernatural creature); The Grateful Crane (shape-shifting bird); and Urashima Taro (time travel). Perhaps, Princess Kaguya a story from the 10th Century, which is now very well-known outside Japan after the release of the Studio Ghibli animated film in 2013, has had the biggest impact. A Japanese spacecraft named after the Princess orbited the Moon between 2007-2009 taking photos of the Moon in Ultra-High Definition.
    The most famous Japanese folk tales are: Princess Kaguya, The Grateful Crane and Urashima Taro Posted by Koji Chikatani
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    Japanese literature and novels littered with cats[UPDATED: 8-17-2017]

    There is a long tradition of cats within Japanese literature, folk stories and art. Many ‘cat books’ feature amongst the ranks of Japan’s bestselling titles.

    Soseki Natsume (1867-1916) wrote a highly regarded satirical account of the Meiji Era in Japan titled: I am a Cat, for example, in 1905. Junichiro Tanazaki (1886-1965) who is held in similar regard wrote the novella A Cat, A Man and Two Women in 1936 when he was in the process of adapting The Tale of Genji into modern Japanese.

    Another example is the highly successful series initially published in 1978 Calico Cat Holmes Series by the mystery writer Jiro Akagawa, which now consists of more than 30 novels and 14 collections of short stories.

    The first winner of the Agatha Christie Award, The Black Cat Takes a Stroll by Akimaro Mori, yet another example, very successfully uses the feline form to describe its professor protagonist.

    The publication of books about cats or with cats as a narrative motif is a continuing trend. Analysis shows that the number of books with the word cat in their title has been steadily increasing in Japan since the1990s and the rate of publication continues to rise.
    Japanese literature and novels littered with cats Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan’s creative industries inspired by its rich legacy of folk stories & tales of old[UPDATED: 6-24-2017]

    Japanese tales of old in their different versions have not only inspired and fueled science fiction, fantasy and other genre within Japanese literature, but other creative industries in Japan as well, including video game design. For instance, Pokemon (Pocket Monsters) draws on the rich world of mythical creatures found within Mukashibanashi (folk tales), as obviously does Yokai Watch, which is named after a class of monsters, supernatural beings and phantoms from these ancient stories.
    Japan’s creative industries inspired by its rich legacy of folk stories & tales of old Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japanese people spend over 4 hours per week reading[UPDATED: 5-31-2017]

    Japanese people spend over 4 hours per week reading.  This is only about half the time of Indians who are the world’s biggest bookworms, according to international surveys. The typical Japanese book buyer purchases 5.7 book per year and Japan has one of the world’s highest literacy rates.
    Japanese people spend over 4 hours per week reading Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japanese boys outscore girls on international literary benchmark tests[UPDATED: 5-31-2017]

    Japanese students score extremely highly on international literacy benchmark tests (540 compared with an average 497 amongst OECD nations) and unusually boys in Japan outscore girls by one percentage point on these tests, while in other countries girls generally outscore boys.
    Japanese boys outscore girls on international literary benchmark tests Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Most Japanese folk stories don’t have ‘Happily Ever Afters’[UPDATED: 5-31-2017]

    The narrative tradition of Mukashibanashi, Japanese folk tales, include accounts of epic journeys, secret rooms and unusual treasure; as is the case in story telling and literature of many countries. But Japanese tales differ significantly from Western fairy and folk stories as most don’t end happily.
    Most Japanese folk stories don’t have ‘Happily Ever Afters’ Posted by Richard Nathan