Storytelling was the beginning of humanity’s oral history: before we could write language on paper, telling or performing stories were not just how communities entertained themselves– they were also a way to keep historical records. Since then, the invention of printing has made stories accessible to virtually anyone in the world.
But most of us are still finding a portion of Japanese stories difficult to understand. The reason for this is that we are most likely used to digesting literature in chronological order: the plot line is the engine that moves the characters forward from the beginning, to the introduction of a conflict, escalation of conflict, and then a resolution and conclusion (which is most likely shorter than the first half.)
Instead of focusing on the plot, the center of Japanese stories in some cases can be its characters. In order to make you invested in finding out more about a character, his or her traits need to be rounded, and one’s introduction into a story is often attention-grabbing and raises more questions than it gives answers. After having encountered more than one story like this, you will begin to observe a character’s current state and fill in some of the blanks for yourself. But remember readers, the purpose of the journey in storytelling is not to have all the answers but to go along with the adventure!