The true protagonists of japanese tales are often Yōkai and Yūrei, yet oral and written tradition also presents examples of valiant heroes who quickly become inspirational role models for their honor and courage.
Among the most popular heroes of 19th century there’s Princess Wakana:
Protagonist of one of the most renowned illustrated serialized novels, the Shiranui Monogatari (the tale of Shiranui), she won the hearts of many readers.
In the novel the princess is saved from the extermination of her family (enacted at the behest of the emperor) by the runaway wet nurse; who then raised her without revealing her noble origins.
But one day the wet nurse’s wicked sister sent the beautiful girl to work in the city in a pleasure house to pay for her putative mother’s care.
As soon as the two women parted, the aunt strangled her sister and had goons assault young Wakana; but a mountain spider spirit saved her by giving her magical powers and the ability to summon huge spiders as familiars.
Taken from – Yōkai. Le Antiche Stampe dei Mostri Giapponesi – Published by Skira
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