Title: Once and Forever: The Tales of Kenji Miyazawa
Author: Kenji Miyazawa
Translated from the Japanese by John Bester
Publisher: New York Review Books Classics
Genre: Mythology, Folktales, Folklore
The month of May is also a slow one. A slow reading month. But this one was worth the time spent on it. Two dozen tales of joy, innocence, whimsical, sometimes tragic – but all deeply rooted to Japanese folklore and connected to the flora and fauna of the land.
Miyazawa takes you through a range of emotions with these tales. Whether it is the cautionary tale of “The Restaurant of Many Orders” to the heartlessness of “The Spider, the Slug, and the Raccoon”, Miyazawa had me enthralled and wanting more with every turn of the page.
I don’t think I’ve read something like these tales before. It isn’t about them being magical. But it is about holding your own as well in the face of the traditional ways of life. Most tales are also drawn from Buddhism which I loved. For instance, “A Stem of Lillies” which does incorporate the many images from the Lotus Sutra.
Once and Forever is a book that will stay for me for a long time. It is so underrated and I’m glad that New York Review Books decided to publish these tales. Read it. Lay your hands on it.