JAPONICA BOOK REVIEW

Reading “The Snow Woman and Other Yokai Stories from Japan”

Noboru Wada’s collection of folk tales from Nagano, Japan

DC Palter
Japonica Publication
4 min readMay 15, 2024

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The Snow Woman by Noboru Wada. Cover image reprinted by permission.

The title of this collection of Japanese ghost stories, The Snow Woman and Other Yokai Stories from Japan, is a little misleading. All of the 77 folk tales collected here by Noboru Wada and translated by William Scott Wilson come specifically from the Nagano region.

Every place in Japan is unique, but Nagano is especially so. Spanning the Japan alps that make up the backbone of Japan, in the modern era of swift shinkansen and fast highways connecting Nagano to the big coastal cities, the region has become renowned for world-class skiing, luxurious hot springs, wine vineyards, apple and chestnut orchards, and the longest life expectancy of any prefecture in Japan. But for most of history, Nagano, or Shinshu or Shinano as it was long known, was a poor, snowy region of long, cold winters where isolated villagers eked out a difficult existence.

This landlocked prefecture was mostly covered in forest, with small villages scattered amidst the mountains. Food was scarce and accidents common, the perfect breeding ground for stories of the supernatural.

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DC Palter
Japonica Publication

Entrepreneur, angel investor, startup mentor, sake snob. Author of the Silicon Valley mystery To Kill a Unicorn: https://amzn.to/3sD2SGH