Kunio Yanagita (1875-1962), known as the father of Japanese ethnology and folklore studies, was born in Fukusaki, Hyogo Prefecture, but was adopted into the Yanagita family in Iida, taking their name and dropping his birth name of Matsuoka.
Graduating from Tokyo University, Yanagita worked as a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, which lead to him traveling the length and breadth of Japan for his work.
On retirement, Yanagita plunged into the study of Japanese folklore and oral traditions which he recorded in his classic book, The Legends of Tono.
Yanagita's work divides opinion - some critics see him as asserting the lives of common people in Japanese history; others see him as creating an homogenous view of the Japanese people in the newly unified nation state.
The Kunio Yanagita Memorial Hall in Iida lies next to the modernist Iida Fine Art Museum designed by architect Hara Hiroshi, who was also responsible for Kyoto Station, the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka, and Sapporo Dome.
Kunio Yanagita Memorial Hall Iida
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Iida Nagano Kunio Yanagita