Tono Monogatari

The beloved mangaka adapts one of his country - and the world’s - great works of supernatural literature

Shigeru Mizuki—Japan’s grand master of yokai comics—adapts one of the most important works of supernatural literature into comic book form. The cultural equivalent of the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, Tono Monogatari is a defining text of Japanese folklore and one of the country’s most important works of literature. This graphic novel was created during the later stage of Mizuki’s career, after he had retired from the daily grind of commercial comics to create personal, lasting works of art.

Originally written in 1910 by folklorists and field researchers Kunio Yanagita and Kizen Sasaki, Tono Monogatari celebrates and archives legends from the Tono region. These stories were recorded as Japan’s rapid modernization led to the disappearance of traditional culture. This adaptation mingles the original text with autobiography: Mizuki attempts to retrace Yanagita and Sasaki’s path, but finds his old body is not quite up to the challenge of following in their footsteps. As Mizuki wanders through Tono he retells some of the most famous legends, manifesting a host of monsters, dragons, and foxes. In the finale, Mizuki meets Yanagita himself and they sit down to discuss their works.

Translated and with additional essays by Mizuki scholar Zack Davisson, Tono Monogatari displays Mizuki at his finest, exploring the world he most cherished.


“Shigeru Mizuki resurrected Japan’s folk creatures as pop culture for the masses.”—Matt Alt, The New Yorker

“Shigeru Mizuki's excellent little spooky comics [are] humorous, satirical and folkloric, populated with countless Japanese ghosts and fairies."—Satoshi Kitamura, The Guardian

"Mizuki (NoNonBa) adapts Kunio Yanagita’s 1910 folklore history of yokai, or spirits, into an energetic series of manga vignettes that are often silly and sometimes genuinely terrifying... The acrobatic visuals lend these fables a giddy charm, and the inviting collection opens up Japanese history for a broader readership."
Publishers Weekly

Sublime, hair-raising, occasionally laugh-out-loud ludicrous, Mizuki continues to charm--and haunt."
Shelf Awareness

Tono Monogatari opens the door to a new way of experiencing Japan’s history and culture. Pick up a copy of this collection, read it, and share with others like the book itself requests: 'May the legends continue to be told.'"
The Arkansas International

[Mizuki's] re-imagining provides an enjoyable gateway into the world of Japanese folklore, proving there’s still some life in these old spirits yet."—International Examiner

In the face of a shifting culture, Yanagita memorialized the stories passed down through generations within the pages of Tono Monogatari. These yokai stories continue to live on in spite of active efforts to undermine their power, and with Mizuki’s adaptation of this enduring text, the stories have gained new life."
Pop Matters

Shigeru Mizuki resurrected Japan’s folk creatures as pop culture for the masses.

Matt Alt, The New Yorker


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