Home Forums The Japanese Language お伽草子 – Otogizōshi​

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    This is a word that i am wondering about. お伽草子 – Otogizōshi​

    I know that it refers to a series of illustrated stories from the Muromachi period, and includes more famous and international narratives, like the Tom Thumb equivalent Issun-boushi, and other famous japanese folk-tales that a lot of fans of anime and manga may or may not have heard of in some fashion or another, but what i am wondering about is if this particular word holds any other meaning in japanese speech today, aside form refering to the literary work itself?

    Jisho.org informs me, and anyone looking up the word there, that it means “Fairy-tale book”, but i just want to know if anybody knows for sure with nigh absolute certainty if it conveys the general meaning of “fairy tale” in japanese, or if it will be senseless to a person without prior knowledge of the work.

    The word “おとぎ” seems to convey a sense of “faerie” as in “fairy story” or “fairy tale”, but as i was wondering initially, does the word otogizoshi mean generally a “fairy tale” or “story”, or does it simply refer to the literary work itself, and if it does simply refer to the work, it must thusly communicate little meaning beyond the vague idea of “faeriesque” to a person without prior knowledge of the work or a general lack of interest in japanese folk-lore and literary tradition.

    I guess there was a much simpler way of asking this question…

    Does the word お伽草子 only refer to the very particular body of literature, or does it also convey the more general idea of “fairy tale” or “fairy story” in modern, day-to-day japanese?

    thank you, and sorry for being so messy with my formulations

    • This topic was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by  satur9dreamer.
    • This topic was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by  satur9dreamer.
    • This topic was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by  satur9dreamer.


    I didn’t see the “i found some japanese i don’t understand” thread until after i had posted this.

    please forgive me :D



    Wikipedia happens to know the answer to this question. =)

    The term otogi literally means “companion”, with the full name of the genre translating to “companion tale”. This designation, however, did not come into use until 1725, when a publisher from Osaka released a set of 23 illustrated booklets titled Shūgen otogibunko (Fortuitous Companion Library). As other publishers produced their own versions of Shūgen otogibunko, they began referring to the set of tales as otogi-zōshi. Gradually the term came to describe any work from the Muromachi or early Edo period that exhibited the same general style as the tales in Shūgen otogibunko.

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otogi-z%C5%8Dshi


    Oh, thank you very much. I understand now. It’s connotation as “faerie” is only communicated when it is used to refer to the work itself, and contains no meaning akin to “faerie” outside of the realm of knowing that the book or series of books are in fact “fairy tales”. Got it. :D

    Thank you!

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