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Culture Kojiki: Birth of Japan

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Take a step back in time to the origins of Japan's creation myth—told here for the very first time in illustrated form.

In the beginning, there was nothing - a void. Then the heavens and the earth took shape, as the ancient gods of Japan breathed the first sparks of life into these islands. The 1300 year-old Kojiki myth traces the beginnings of the Japanese people, following the rise of the Japanese islands from their humble origins as a lump of clay to a great nation that would one day take its rightful place among the leading nations of the world.

Like all creation myths from around the world, the Kojiki story occupies a treasured place in the nation's literature and collective imagination. Kazumi Wilds's striking illustrations capture the drama and intensity of a mythic tale where chaos and demons are unleashed and where darkness is slowly pushed back by the righteous, as good prevails over evil.

Kojiki: The Birth of Japan combines the raucous rhythms and startling imagery of today's best graphic novels with a retelling of a classic and timeless Japanese story. This book will be remembered and treasured for years to come by lovers of mythology, folklore and anyone interested in Japanese culture and history.

For readers ages 14 & up

About the Author:

Kazumi Wilds is an illustrator and creator of art books who was born in Japan. Kojiki: The Birth of Japan is adapted from her thesis project as an M.F.A. student at the University of Iowa, Center for the Book. She also holds a bachelor's degree from Joshibi University of Art and Design in Tokyo, where she majored in Japanese painting. She worked as a school teacher in Japan for many years before living in the United States, which included a stint running a gallery in Taos, New Mexico. She has illustrated over a dozen children's books, including All About Japan and The Peace Tree from Hiroshima—this is her first adult book. Wilds is currently teaching art courses at Temple University's Tokyo campus.

Latest reviews

  • Fantastic and imaginative artwork
  • Very little text and explanations
The Kojiki (古事記) is a compilation of the earliest Japanese myths and narratives and was completed in the early 8th century. Kazumi Wild's "artist book" of only 32 pages focuses on the first part of the chronicle, the Age of Gods, that describes the creation of heaven and earth and the myths surrounding the foundation of Japan.

The author's simple, yet imaginative illustrations tell a story that spans from the initial chaos to the birth of the first heavenly deities and the appearance of Izanagi and Izanami who - by standing on the floating bridge of heaven and stirring the primaeval brine of the universe with a mystical spear - created the Japanese archipelago and numerous other deities.

Each illustration is accompanied by a few lines of text guiding the reader through the narrative. These sentences are as simple as the artwork and somehow help the reader interpret the chronology of the spectacular, exotic, and - according to the author - often comical events.

Regardless of your first impression, this is an artist's not a children's book (although it is recommended for children over 14). The artwork is fantastic and will fascinate those interested in Japanese mythology and the foundations of Japanese culture.

A selection of Mrs Wilds' gripping illustrations:




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Kazumi Wilds
Tuttle Publishing
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