Monogatari(物語) is a literary form in traditional Japanese literature, , an extended prose narrative tale comparable to the epic. It is closely tied to aspect of the oral tradition, and almost always relates a fictional or fictionalized story, even when retelling a historical event. Many of the great works of Japanese fiction, such as the Genji monogatari ("Tale of Genji") and the Heike monogatari ("The Tale of the Heike") are in this monogatari form.

The form was prominent around the 9th to 15th centuries, though some later works of the Edo period (1600-1868) are sometimes considered to be of the genre. The term was originally used in combination with bungaku (文学, "literature") to distinguish it from waka-bungaku (poetry), zuihitsu-bungaku (essays), and nikki-bungaku (travel accounts).

Many modern works, including novels, video games, and films, make use of the word "monogatari" in their titles, to lend something of a romantic or epic feeling to the works; this is most commonly translated into English as "The Tale of..."

Traditional monogatari are often divided into several sub-genres: Uta-monogatari (stories drawn from poetry), tsukuri-monogatari (aristocratic court romances), rekishi-monogatari (historical novels), gunki monogatari (martial epics), and setsuwa (anecdotal collections).

List of monogatari


  • Frederic, Louis (2002). "Monogatari." Japan Encyclopedia. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
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