Conclusion

Based on the results of the comparative analysis (see Introduction, PART I, PART II and PART III) of Russian and Japanese wonder tales, the reader can come to the conclusion that there is much in common. This community is the result of similar early ideas about life and death, characteristic of both peoples. Most clearly the unity of such representations is manifested in the initiation rite, to which the complex of early mythological ideas, including the cycle of ideas about death and totemism, as the basic form of beliefs, goes back. During the rite the neophyte was taken to a remote place, hidden from other people, where he passed through numerous tests that were designed to imitate his killing. In the process of initiation, the neophyte joined the totem ancestor, patron of the tribal community, received from him certain supernatural forces, and was reborn as an adult, dedicated member of society, which implied the possibility of entering into marriage. With the initiation rite, the myth was closely associated with the purpose of explaining the content of the rite. It reproduced ritual actions, clothed them in an oral form, and passed down from generation to generation. With the development of society, the rite of initiation ceased to exist, and the myth lost its authenticity and began to be perceived as a wonder tale. Therefore, wonder tales are built on early representations and retain in themselves the most important elements of the initiation rite. It was established that the composition structure of wonder tales of both peoples is a complete reproduction of the three-part structure of this rite, since all the analysed wonder-tale subjects, one way or another, repeat this three-part structure. Like a neophyte who passes through the initiation rite, the hero of a wonder tale is separated from society, goes to the afterlife and then returns in a qualitatively new status, which in most cases means the acquisition of a higher status in society and the opportunity to enter into marriage. Thus, there is no doubt that the Russian and Japanese heroes of wonder tales genetically go back to the early man, who in the process of initiation dies and is reborn in a new, adult quality, ready to join the tribal community.

Along with similarities, in Russian and Japanese wonder tales, certain differences can be found, which are achieved as a result of bringing into the plots of Japanese wonder tales individual elements of the Shinto. One of such elements in the considered wonder tales is a special attitude to nature, as to the ideal of beauty. Unlike the hero of Russian wonder tales, the hero of Japanese wonder tales will never harm nature, and therefore gets the support of a magical assistant for his kindness and responsiveness, whereas in a Russian wonder tale the reader can observe that the hero subordinates an animal on contractual terms: he enlists a magical assistant in an exchange for his life.

Another significant difference between Japanese wonder tales and Russian wonder tales is the absence of a traditional happy ending. There are several reasons for this deviation from the traditional wonder tale canon. Firstly, the geographical location of the area in which the wonder tale was created. The Japanese society has developed a moral stamina in the face of natural disasters and the ability to tolerate losses. This, in particular, can explain the absence of any opposition in the Japanese wonder tale The Crane’s Return of Favour, when, as in all the Russian wonder tales reviewed, the opposition takes place without fail. No less important reason for the lack of opposition in the Japanese wonder tale is Buddhism, which largely influenced the worldview of Japanese society, introducing its concept of perception of the world – the concept of detached innocence. In addition, Japanese culture is characterized by a unique aesthetic perception of beauty, which finds its expression in the aesthetic concept of mono no aware, which gives many folklore characters, especially women, a tragic fate and aura of sadness.

Based on the results obtained in the course of the comparative analysis, the main conclusion is that there are more similarities between Russian and Japanese wonder tales than differences. This is a natural pattern based on the presence of similar early institutions and ways of interpreting the world around them. The main differences are achieved by introducing elements of Buddhism and Shinto into Japanese wonder tales, as well as the uniqueness of the Japanese mentality, which undoubtedly influenced the development of the plot, which was created within the Japanese state, and therefore has no analogues in the wonder tales of the Russian people.

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