Densetsu (Jap., ‘explanations of tradition’). Narratives of Japanese tradition describing acts of prominent figures, especially holy men who have attained religious powers, and are not entirely legendary (i.e. they had historical existence). Most of them are Buddhist. Particularly well-known are Kobo densetsu, the tales of Kūkai. Comparable as genres of religious stories are engi (which tell especially of miracles and portentous events associated with holy places) and reigenki (stories of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, in particular, of their efficacious powers of intercession). See also SETSUWA; SHINWA.
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