Five Best Japanese Fables for Children

Panhuman Books — June 25, 2022

If you share a classic Japanese story with your children, consider these five popular options. These Japanese folklore books will not only entertain but also give a unique perspective on that country's culture and history for all to enjoy.

Folk Tales from Japan: Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales for Children

by Florence Sakade (Author), Yoshio Hayashi (Illustrator)

This beautifully illustrated book contains a selection of sixteen different folktales, all based in Japanese culture. They include a diverse range of characters and plot lines but all have an important lesson contained within. These range from fanciful explanations of the natural world to moral tales about sharing, including others, and more. The illustrations are colorful yet simple with text dominating most pages.

Peach Boy and Other Japanese Children's Favorite Stories

by Florence Sakade (Author), Yoshisuke Kurosaki (Illustrator)

This is another book with multiple stories in it so young boys and girls can enjoy their favorite one at story time or bedtime every night. These magical tales showcase creatures and magical items that have shown up in Japanese folklore books for centuries. The unique drawings inside depict the stories beautifully. This and the three later books in this list would create an exceptional collection of Japanese stories altogether. They are illustrated in similar styles.

Little One-Inch and Other Japanese Children's Favorite Stories

by Florence Sakade (Author), Yoshisuke Kurosaki (Illustrator)

The titular tale in this classic folklore storybook is reminiscent of the English Tom Thumb, but nine other stories are also included in this book. They combine sweet emotional stories, wild adventure tales, plenty of comedy, and moral lessons offered gently amid unique drawings. Some are not unique to this book may be recognizable from the "Peach Boy" collection listed above. 

Urashima Taro and Other Japanese Children's Favorite Stories

by Florence Sakade (Author), Yoshio Hayashi (Illustrator)

Another collection of Japanese folklore stories contains similar tales to the other options on this list. If you want to share as many as possible to help your child understand the culture and history of this unique country, consider buying them all. You will find dragons, elves, and adventurers in these traditional tales with a distinctive Asian flair and amazing illustrations to go along with each.

I Am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend

by Wendy Henrichs (Author), Yoshiko Jaeggi (Illustrator)

Unlike the other folklore books in this list, "I Am Tama" contains a single story about a lovely white cat that is considered lucky. There are popular statues of the Maneki Neko sold as good luck for your house. The tale is intertwined with legends of Japanese warriors, and informative nod to Buddhism, and other unique cultural iconographies from Japan. Although the tale is founded in a long-ago time, the lessons it teaches of kindness, generosity, and help are important to learn today. The colorful illustrations are detailed watercolors will capture attention and delight the imagination of children everywhere

Other great children's books are featured in Five Best Children's Books About Blindness.