Japanese / Japan

Komainu no Sasuke. Maigo no maki
(Sasuke, the guardian lion. The confused dog)

Itō, Yu (text)
Okamoto, Jun (illus.)
Komainu no Sasuke. Maigo no maki
(Sasuke, the guardian lion. The confused dog)
Tōkyō: Poplar-sha (Popurasha), 2013.
– 186 p.
(Series: Noberuzu ekusupuresu; 19)
ISBN 978-4-591-13225-8

Shinto shrine | Effigy | Stonemason | Soul | Compassion | Fantasy novel

In Japan, two lions made of stone sit in front of Shinto shrines to protect them from bad influences. In this suspenseful novel, awarded the 62nd Shōgakukan Award for Publications & Culture in 2013, two such guardian lions are the central characters. They are inhabited by the souls of their creators, a stone mason, who died 150 years ago, and his young apprentice. A trade apprentice often stops by the shrine looking for his dog, and complains to the lion inhabited by the soul of young apprentice Sasuke. Sasuke feels compassion for him and wants to help him in his way. If his attempt fails, however, his soul could wander eternally and never return.

Yū Itō, who enjoys using historical material for her fantasy novels, has humorously captured the dialogue between the stubborn master and his goodnatured apprentice. The book’s simple illustrations help transport the reader to the shrine. (Age: 9+)