Author Archives: dominique

Momotarō (Peach Boy)

Context:

The informant–HO– is an third generation Japanese American 18 year old woman born in California who attended a weekly Japanese language school from age 7 to age 9. The tale was told to her by one of her teachers in English. 

Piece:

The one I know the most is about the little boy who hatches from the peach. It’s like an egg. I don’t know where it [referring to the the story] comes from. It’s just like a fairy tale. It’s an Asian fairy tale. It’s Japanese. OK here’s the story. I think it’s just called Peach Boy, I guess, in English. 

There’s like this old lady, and she’s going to do her laundry in like the nearby river ‘cause that’s like what they did then, I guess. I don’t know. And then she sees like this giant peach floating by and she’s like “Whoah…that’s a big peach. I’m gonna take it back to my husband, and we’re just gonna like eat this huge peach. Because that’s crazy how big it is. So like the husband sees it and is like, “Whoah! That’s a huge peach!” And she’s like, “I know right!” And he’s like, “Where’d you buy it?” And she’s like, “I literally just found it floating in the river.” Would you eat a peach that was floating in the river? So {the husband} gets a big knife and is like, “I’m gonna cut this sucker open.” And then when he is like about to do it, he hears a voice that’s like, “Stop!” And then he’s like, “Whoah!” And so he stops. And then, it just like (She then cups her hands and mimics the sound of a cracking noise while separating her cupped hands to represent the peach opening like an egg) And there’s a boy inside! And his age? I’m not sure. He’s just like little. Just young. I would say like baby to toddler range. Uhm…yeah.. Okay and then… What’s next? 

Then he’s like the talk of the town. And..uh..so they just adopt him as their own. Sort of like Hercules when, like, those two “normies”, like find him and raise him and he’s like [She laughs] He’s like… He’s kinda, like, better than all the other kids. He’s just like- in literally every other aspect, and the other kids are like, “Oh my god he’s the best!” And the parents are like, “Yeah we know.” But nobody knows why except for them, and they know it’s, like, ‘cause he hatched from inside of a giant peach. Is this what James and the Giant Peach is about? I’ve actually never seen it. It makes you think…

Okay, and then he’s fifteen. He’s like, “What up, fake Dad that’s like my adopted dad? Um, here’s a proposition: “What if I like go to this island full of demons,” which are just like those little red people. There’s, like, an island full of demons and they, like- They basically have taken over this, like, island that people used to live on, and they’re like going crazy. He’s like, “I wanna go there, and, like, free all the people.” And his dad is like, “Since you’re, like, crazy better than all the other children, why should I stop you? You can do anything.” 

So then he, like, goes and starts his little journey. And then he’s, like, walking along, and he comes across this wild dog. And the dog is like, [She mimics a dog growling] “What are you doing? Why are you walking here?” And the little kid is like, “Oh my god do you know who I am? Like, I’m Peach Boy!” And the dog’s like, “Oh my god. So sorry that I even questioned why you were walking here. Like, I’m super embarrassed. Could you let such a rude person on your journey? Like, I can’t believe how rude I just was.” Direct translation. [She said this sarcastically.] And he’s like, “Sure! Let’s go!” And, like, how is that dog gonna kill demons? I don’t know but, whatever. And they’re like walking along some more, and then they like- This monkey, like swoops down and is like, “Hey! Heard you guys are gonna go fight those demons. Can I be in on it?” And the dog’s like, “You’re a monkey. That’s dumb.” But the little boy is like, “Yeah!” So then, there’s like- [She hums a bouncy tune] Walking along some more. And then they, like- There’s a bird flying by, and the dog barks at the bird and is like… I don’t know. He just doesn’t like birds, but the boy is like, “Don’t be rude to the bird. That’s rude.” And then um… And then he’s like, “Hey, bird, we’re gonna go kill some demons. Do you wanna come?” And the bird’s like, “Yeah!” And then, they all go, but then the boy’s like, “But if you’re gonna join our little clan, all you crazy animals have to promise that you won’t be mean to each other because that’s rude.” They have a bad trek record, obviously. 

So then, they’re like- Okay, so then, they go to- They finally reach the shore. Like Japan’s an island. How long can it take you to reach the shore? Then, they find a little boat. How? I don’t know, but they get on a little boat, and they sail across the ocean to the demon island.. um.. And then they get off the boat. 

Oh wait, back up. When they’re sailing there, um, the peach boy is like, “Bird go ahead, and tell all the demons that we’re going to seriously kill all of them.” Which, like, wouldn’t you want it to be a surprise attack? But like, whatever… And the bird’s like, “Alright.” And so he flies over and is like, “Whats up? You’ll never believe who’s coming. It’s the peach boy. And then um..Okay, so then, the demons are like, “Okay. We’re super ready.” They’re not. 

So like, once the boat gets there the monkey, the dog, and the peach boy go absolutely bonkers on these demons. They kill all of them until there is one left, and it’s, like, the leader demon. And Peach Boy is like gonna kill him, and he’s like, “Oh my god! What if I just gave you all my gold and set everybody free, and, like, we were totally good.” And Peach Boy was like, “Yes. I’m into that.” And then, so he, like showed him where all the gold was and set free all of the people he was holding who were suffering and et cetera. And then he brings home all the gold to the old people that raised him, and then they’re like super rich until they die. And thats the end.

Analysis:

This tale, told to entertain children, teaches audiences the dichotomy between good (the hero, Peach Boy) and evil (the demons) and can triumph evil through superior physical strength. 

For further analysis of the tale and its function of spreading Japanese nationalism, see 

Antoni, Klaus. “Momotarō (The Peach Boy) and the Spirit of Japan: Concerning the Function of a Fairy Tale in Japanese Nationalism of the Early Shōwa Age.” Asian Folklore Studies, vol. 50, no. 1, 1991, pp. 155–188. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1178189. Accessed 30 Apr. 2020.

Social Media Slang

Context: HO is an 18 year old college student who frequents instagram frequently and twitter infrequently. I, the interviewer am labeled as DJ.

HO: “Horny on main” means, like, you’re openly talking about something a lot on your public instagram.

DJ: Is it always on social media?

HO: I think it’s only on social media. I don’t know. I’ve never heard someone say that to me, like, outside of social media.

DJ: I’ve used it before not relating to social media.

HO: I never have. Who’s to say?

DJ: So, what does “on main” mean?

HO: It means on their main as opposed to their private Instagram story, or, like, “finsta.” Do I have to explain what “finsta” means?

DJ: Oh yes please. 

HO: It’s where you have a smaller Instagram. Your immediate circle of friends usually follows it, so you can post whatever you want?

DJ: Where does the word come from?

HO: Fake instagram.

Analysis:

Both terms defined in the interview refer to a person having multiple social media accounts: one for the public eye and the other designated as a more private platform in which people can be their more authentic selves. 

For further analysis regarding the social phenomenon “finsta” instagram accounts, see

Dewar, Sofia, et al. “Finsta: Creating” Fake” Spaces for Authentic Performance.” Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2019.

Shadow Person Memorate

Context: 

There is a message board, or “thread,” on the website Reddit, one of which is titled r/AskReddit, in which people post open ended questions for anyone in the Reddit community to answer. I, the interviewer, posted this question: What was a real life experience you had with a creature from a legend (ghosts, aliens, La Llorona, Big Foot, etc.)? The reddit user “Thatoneguy111700” replied in the comments, “Saw a Shadow Person in my living room. My dogs saw it too.” I then messaged Thatoneguy111700, explained that I was looking to collect his account, and asked him for the complete story. He agreed to tell me, and his full message is transcribed below.

Piece:

It was October 26th, 2016, around 8 to 8:20 PM. I was walking into my living room when I saw my three dogs barking at the back door to be let in (the back door was all glass with two big glass panes on either side of it). The only lights on were the ones inside so I could see a perfect reflection of the room around me in the glass. I was going to go let them in when they suddenly just stopped barking and looking to my left. I was weirded out so I looked in the reflection too. There, standing in the corner of the room, was this big-ass, really black shadow. I was maybe 5’7″ at the time and this thing towered over me, even with its shoulders hunched over. The four of us just stared at this thing until it seemingly noticed me looking at it and went into the hallway. I stood in place for a good 5 minutes, like I was frozen. I tried recreating it on several occasions, to see if I’d made the shadow, but my shadow either didn’t reach that part of the wall or wasn’t dark enough or simply wasn’t big enough.

Analysis: 

This memorate shows similarities to a ghost sighting, but the use of the title of a shadow person removes the religious and spiritual connotations of a ghost.

Screen capture of question posted on r/AskReddit with Thatoneguy111700’s reply
Conversation over Reddit with Thatoneguy111700

The Bamboo Cutter

Context:

The informant–HO– is a third generation Japanese American 18 year old woman born in California who attended a weekly Japanese language school from age 7 to age 9. The tale was told to her by her grandmother (born in Japan) in English. I, the interviewer, am labeled as DJ.

Piece:

HO: So once upon a time, there was this little old man. He and his wife never had kids. So they were like very sad old people. And his job was to just like go out and cut bamboo all day, and then, like, sell it. So then one day he was like walking through the bamboo forest and was like, “Oh my God. Why does that bamboo look like the moon is shining directly on it?” Because it was. So he was like, “I’m gonna cut that bamboo down. It’s, like, I feel like it’s a sign.” And once the bamboo, like, falls down, he sees that, like where he cut it, there’s, like, a little tiny person like that big. Maybe, like, a few inches tall. And it’s just like a little lady. And she’s just, like, in there. And he’s like, whoa. You must have been sent from the gods cause you’re like a little child. And we never had kids. And then he takes it home to his wife. She’s like, “That’s a tiny kid.”

DJ: Wait, is it a kid or is it a woman?

HO: It’s like a tiny little girl, I would think. And then they’re like, “OK, well, we’re taking her in as our own.” And then- But then they don’t let anyone see her, obviously, because she’s, like, definitely smaller than the average baby. So several months later, she’s like the size of like a normal little girl, like a teen girl. Not 100 percent sure. And then they, like, have like a party where they, like, reveal her to the world. And everyone’s like, “Whoa. She’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.” And they’re like, “Yeah, we know.” And then, like, news spreads fast because Japan is, like, tiny. So then everybody, like every man on earth is like, “Whoah, whoah, whoah, whoah!” They like travel to their little bamboo house and they’re like, “What’s up? Can I marry your daughter?” And the dad’s like, “No,” he’s like, “I’m not even, like, technically her real dad. So that’s why I’m telling you no.”

DJ: Oh, he tell people that he’s not her real dad?

HO: Yeah. Which is, like, really suspicious. That sounds like you stole her. Whatever. And then… And then he talks to his daughter in is like, “So like what do we do about all these suitors?” And she’s like, “I’ll pick one if they can do all these crazy tasks. And I don’t remember what any of the tasks are. So that’s my bad. But. Then, obviously, none of the men can do any of them. So she’s like, “OK, you’re all, like, not going to marry me. Because you’re the worst.” And then, like, the emperor, like, comes to see her and he’s like, “Well, what about me?” And she’s like, “No.” And he’s like, really disturbed by it because he’s like,”How could she say no to me, the emperor?” So then she’s just, like, lonely all the time and the dad’s like, “Well, it’s kind of your fault. And then she’s like, “Yeah, I know, but like the moon was just talking to me, and it told me that, like, my moon family is, like, coming back for me. The dad’s like, “No. No.” So then he calls up the emperor and is like, “Hey, we need to, like, we need to literally get all your guards and we’re blocking our house off because that would work against moon people” And so they like, guard the house. And the daughters like, “This is stupid, like. We’re otherworldly.” And then the moon people just, like, descend on a cloud, like, they have like a chariot on a cloud. They just like come down and are like, “Get in the chariot.” And she’s like, “All right.”And then she gets in the chariot. And she’s like, “Just think of me when you look at the moon.” And the dad’s like, “OK.” And then she just, like, floats away. And that’s the end.

Analysis:

This tale carries on a theme in Japanese folk tales of supernatural children hatching from plants discovered in the wild and taken in by an elderly couple. The tale is also a pre-science fiction narrative features extraterrestrial beings from another planet visiting Earth.

For a similar tale in which a child is discovered in a giant peach rather than a bamboo stock, see Momotarō (Peach Boy)

San Antonio Haunted Train Tracks

Context: 

The informant–ZG– is an 18 year old male born and raised in San Antonio Texas. The train tracks to which the informant is referring are located near the San Juan Mission and have become a popular tourist destination for self proclaimed ghost hunters.

Piece:

A story that I heard growing up and I actually did witness was south of San Antonio. There’s these railroad tracks, and supposedly in the eighteen hundreds a train was coming by and it killed all these small children. I don’t know what they were doing playing on train tracks. That was their fault. But if you go at night and you set your car in the middle of the train tracks–the train tracks are no longer in use–the ghost children will push your car across the train tracks. My mom and I went back in 2014 or 2013. We had this huge pickup truck. And we went over and, we parked on top of the train tracks and it’s actually like a line of people. And what do you know we put our car in neutral and… Wow! Our car was pushed across the train tracks from the little children. It was incredible.

Analysis:

Despite the popularity of the San Antonio train tracks said to be haunted by ghosts of children killed in an accident, there is no proof that such an accident ever happened at those specific tracks or in San Antonio. The legend could be a cautionary tale warning children about the dangers of playing around the train tracks or an explanation for the phenomenon that occurs when a car is put in neutral when stopped over the tracks.

Warsaw Mermaid

Context:

The informant–MF–is a 39 year old male who was born and raised in Zagłębie, Poland but has lived in the US since 2016. He learned this legend having visited Warsaw numerous times and heard the legend from locals. The interview from which this legend was collected was conducted in English.

Piece:

MF: Ok. So let’s start with the very old legend about the Warsaw Mermaid so which is the symbol right now of the of Warsaw, which is the capitol in Poland. There’s a very nice statue of the mermaid and she’s keeping the knife. Actually, this is the sword. And then and then shield. And it’s kind of protect the city from the from the, you know, like bad things that you could put, you know, like in from from the very, very old time. Like, people are thinking that the Polish mermaid is the sister of Copenhagen mermaid, which is well known symbol of Copenhagen. And she was swimming towards Poland through the Baltic Sea and then finally go into the river, which is going through Warsaw, which is the capitol of Poland. And then the story is telling that that there was a fisherman, old fisherman was catching the fish. And this mermaid actually decided to release this fishes. So as she thought, she she didn’t. And, you know, like, open the net and fish escape. So the fisherman was very, very angry. He was trying to catch the mermaid.But she was she was very smart in trying to escape. But what’s finally- fishermen catch her. So beautiful and so spectacular that the fishermen decided to release her. And and finally, actually, he fallen in love with her. But later, in the very, very rich person like Merchant, like he decided to cut her. And, you know, like to get some money to, you know, like to get her from the water. And he was trying to do it. And finally, he did but, you know, since her voice was so beautiful, the fisherman actually decided to do, you know, like release the mermaid. And then actually she said, “Oh, I’m gonna protect this city because you are so, so nice for me.” And then she became, like, a huge symbol of the capitol of Poland. So that’s that’s more or less the story about the mermaid important. So those of you who are interested, you can go to the capital of Poland and, actually close to the distillery there, there is the nice statue of Polish Mermaid.

Analysis:

This tale forms a nationalistic connection connection between the city of Warsaw and the river upon which it sits, the river Vistula. The tale also creates a sense of partnership between Warsaw and Copenhagen, both of which have rivers running through them and a famous statue of a mermaid said to have been found in those same waters.

“spoko” Polish Slang

Pronunciation: spôkô

Context:

The informant–MF–is a 39 year old male who was born and raised in Zagłębie, Poland but has lived in the US since 2016. This is a slang term he remembers from childhood. The interview from which this word was collected was conducted in English.

Definition:

It means all right. All there is no problem. Everything is alright means spoko. So for instance, uh, if you know somebody is in trouble or somebody is very sad. So you can say oh don’t worry, everything is spoko. Everything’s gonna be all right. So we can say like that.

Analysis:

This term has multiple variations in Poland, including “sponio” (pronounced spōnyō).

Davy Crockett Hotel Haunting

Context:

The informant–ZG– is an 18 year old male born and raised in San Antonio Texas. The hotel he references, the Crockett Hotel, is located in downtown San Antonio and was founded in 1836. David “Davy” Crockett (1786-1836) was an American frontiersman.

Piece:

So I’m born in San Antonio Texas and I’ve been raised here most my life and I love this city. An interesting aspect is that we have a lot of ghost stories and hauntings in our city. We’re famously known for the Alamo, but we have this Davy Crockett conspiracy that he haunts the Crockett Hotel. Personally, I’ve never stayed a night there but it’s in the midst of downtown and has this giant green neon sign. And rumor has it that the night at 3:14 am if I remember correctly he will knock on your door. I would really like to think that they hire someone to stay up at 3:14 in the morning and go around knocking on people’s doors. I think that would be hilarious. But maybe it is the infamous Davy Crockett and his soul. 

Analysis:

The ghost stories of San Antonio seem to a point of pride, at least through the informant’s telling of the ghost story, for the city. Despite being born in Tennessee, San Antonio tries Davy Crockett’s ghost due to his part in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.