Sunday, July 29, 2012

[Book] The Fantastic Deer-Man -- Makime MANABU

Makime Manabu

Front Cover of the Japanese Edition

Front Cover of the Chinese Edition

1. If you love the Harry Potter's novels, you will also love The Fantastic Deer-Man by Makime Manabu.

The Fantastic Deer-Man is myth making in its finest.

This book was originally published in Japan in 2007.

I have read a Chinese translation of this book published in Taiwan in 2008 and would like to recommend it to everyone.

Not that this book needs my recommendation, the publisher of the Chinese edition has printed in the book many glowing reviews and recommendations from different Japanese and Chinese readers.

2. In the Third Century of the Common Era, the Japanese Shaman Queen Himiko gave a commission to three immortal animals to perform a ritual to prevent earthquake from happening in Japan.

The ritual is to be performed once every sixty years and rotating between three cities: Nara, Kyoto and Osaka.

So the Deer of Nara, the Fox of Kyoto and the Rat of Osaka have been faithfully carrying out their promises to Himiko for the last 1,800 years.

The ritual involves a bronze mirror which needs to be transported between the three cities for each performance.

This year, the ritual is to be performed in Nara.

Since the animals cannot transport the bronze mirror themselves, the (mysterious) Force will select a human courier to do the job.

The Deer-Man has been chosen to transport the bronze mirror of Himiko from Kyoto, where the ritual last took place sixty years ago, to Nara.

And so the fun begins.

3. I like reading stories.

Besides telling a good story, the attraction of a novel like The Fantastic Deer-Man is that it gives the readers many glimpses into the Japanese peoples and their cultures.

In this case, besides descriptions of the city of Nara, the book also explains many Japanese myths and history that serves as background to the story.

For example, Queen Himiko was an actual person.

The first mention of Queen Himiko is in Chinese history.

Queen Himiko sends tributary envoys to the court of the state of Wei in China.

Among the gifts the court of Wei gave to Queen Himiko were one hundred bronze mirrors.

Could the bronze mirror used in the ritual in the novel be one of those mirrors?

There might be a Chinese connection here!

("Himiko", Wikipedia): "Himiko or Pimiko (卑弥呼, 175-248 CE) was an obscure shaman queen of Yamataikoku in ancient Wa (Japan). Early Chinese dynastic histories chronicle tributary relations between Queen Himiko and the Cao Wei Kingdom (220-265), and record that the Yayoi period people chose her as ruler following decades of warfare among the kings of Wa. Early Japanese histories do not mention Himiko, but historians associate her with legendary figures such as Empress Consort Jingū, who was Regent (ca. 200-269 ) in roughly the same era as Himiko. Scholarly debates over the identity of Himiko and the location of her domain Yamatai have raged since the late Edo period, with opinions divided between northern Kyūshū or traditional Yamato province in present-day Kinki. 'The Yamatai controversy', writes Keiji Imamura (1996:188), is 'the greatest debate over the ancient history of Japan.' "

Queen Himiko was said to rule over 30 states with over 70,000 households in ancient Japan.

"The Yamatai controversy" mentioned in Wikipedia is the controversy over where exactly Yamatai was located.

As mentioned in Wikipedia, this debate is one of "the greatest debates over the ancient history of Japan".

To this day, some Japanese historians still blame the controversy on the imprecision of the Chinese historical records.

If only Chinese historians recorded precisely how far Yamatai was from the Capital of the Chinese state of Wei, then the Japanese can determine exactly where Yamatai was located.

4. The following images are from Volume 30 of the "Book of Wei" of the Records of the Three Kingdoms.

The images are from the 1964 reprint of the 1959 edition published by Chung Wah Book Co. in Beijing.

This is a modern edition with contemporary punctuation.

I have selected the page with the Edict from the State of Wei of China to Queen Himiko of Japan.

The Edict mentioned Wei giving 100 bronze mirrors ("銅鏡百枚") to Himiko:

5. Book details in Traditional Chinese:

書名:        鹿男

作者名稱:  萬城目 學

譯者:       凃愫芸

出版社:    皇冠文化

出版日期:  2008-06-30

ISBN:      978-957-33-2426-3

語言:        繁體中文版

頁數:        352 頁

6. This novel has also been turned into a 10 episodes TV drama in Japan in 2008:

Poster for the 2008 Japanese TV Drama

 Relationship Chart of Characters in the TV Drama

7. Names, Words and Phrases:

The Fantastic Deer-Man (Traditional Chinese: 鹿男; Simplified Chinese: 鹿男).

Book of Wei (Traditional: 魏書; Simplified: 魏书).

Chung Wah Book Co. (Traditional: 中華書局; Simplified: 中华书局).

Edict (Traditional: 詔書; Simplified: 诏书).

Himiko (Traditional: 卑彌呼; Simplified: 卑弥呼).

Kyoto (Traditional: 京都; Simplified: 京都).

Makime MANABU (Traditional: 萬城目 學; Simplified: 万城目 学).

Nara (Traditional: 奈良; Simplified: 奈良).

Osaka (Traditional: 大阪; Simplified: 大阪).

Records of the Three Kingdoms (Traditional: 三國志; Simplified: 三国志).

State of Wei (Traditional: 魏國; Simplified: 魏国).

Yamatai (Traditional: 邪馬台國; Simplified: 邪马台国).


"Himiko", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
(accessed 2012-07-29).

"Records of the Three Kingdoms", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
(accessed 2012-07-29).

"Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi", DramaWiki,
(accessed 2012-07-29).

"鹿男", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
(accessed 2012-07-29).

"卑彌呼", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
(accessed 2012-07-29).