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Kafka on the Shore

The final interaction between the main characters of the book and Japanese myth and legend occurs when Kafka discovers his father is dead and the police are looking for him. He flees to Oshima’s family cabin in the woods for a second time. It is there he finds a door to the Japanese underworld. It is here that he discovers what happened to his Japanese Dreams mother and sister. He also encounters Miss Saeki’s ghost, and in the process of wandering the underworld discovers himself in the process. This ties into the Japanese myth of Izanagi and Izanami (Izanagi, and Izanami: Mukashbanashi Library website: http://www.mukashibanashi. org)

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They are comparable to Zeus and Hera in Greek mythology. At one point in this myth Izanami gives birth to their son Ho-Musabi, or fire. In the process of birthing fire Izanami is burned to death. Izanagi travels to Yomi or the underworld to find her. This is very similar to Kafka’s journey of self discovery in the forest near the cabin in the mountains. Conclusion Japanese mythology has played a very important part in both Japanese literature and film in the fifty years since World War II.

It is through the eyes of writers like Haruki Murakami, and the artistic vision of directors like Hayao Miyazaki that Western cultures can come to understand and love the myths and legends of Japan. I feel that the story Murakami tells in Kafka on the Shore (Vintage Paperbacks, 2005) is universal. Everyone goes through a journey of self- discovery as they enter adolescence. Not all adolescents go on this journey in quite as spectacular a fashion as Kafka Tamura but, it is a journey we all must make.

I have discovered several things from reading this book. First, myth and legend can always play a role in everyday life. Second, it is never a bad thing to dream since this is how we discover who we are both as individuals and entire cultures. Finally, life is a journey and like Nakata we must travel whatever road we choose of follow and never look back. Japanese Dreams

References

Murakami, Haruki: Kafka on the Shore: Vintage Paperbacks 2005 Murakami, Haruki: The Wind Up Bird Chronicles: Vintage Paperbacks, 1997

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