Kaguya-Hime (/ Tale of Princess Kaguya)



“One day, an old bamboo cutter cut a strange glowing bamboo in a grove, only to find an adorable little girl inside. Being childless, the bamboo cutter decided to bring the child home to raise with his old wife. They the girl Kaguya-Hime. Since finding Kaguya-Hime, the old bamboo cutter constantly found pieces of gold in the bamboo he cut, becoming wealthy in a short span of time. Kaguya-Hime grew up to become exceptionally beautiful, and news of her beauty spread around the country. Five princes came to ask her hand in marriage and she declined all of them by telling them she will marry whoever completes her task and giving them impossible tasks. The princes gave up but then the Emperor of Japan wanted her to become his wife and empress, which she declined because she says is not from this world.

As time passed, Kaguya-Hime would often look up to the moon in melancholy and then proceed to cry. She reveals to the old bamboo cutter and to his wife that she came from the moon. Kaguya-Hime was told to live on Earth initially but now has been told to come back to the moon.

As time to return to the moon grew closer, Kaguya-Hime she gave gifts and to the emperor, she gave him a letter and an elixir of immortality. The emperor tried to prevent Kaguya-Hime being returned to the moon by the entourage by sending an army of his own to protect Kaguya-Hime, but failed.

The emperor then asked his men to burn the letter and elixir that he received from Kaguya-Hime on the highest mountain of the country, as he deemed immortality meaningless without the one he loves. The mountain was then named mount Fuji (富士/ immortality). Legends say that smoke from burning Kaguya-Hime’s parting gifts can still be seen today.”




I collected this from my Japanese friend that I befriended during my times studying abroad in Shanghai, China. The story of Kaguya-Hime is significant to her as she heard the story from her father when they went to see the mountain in real life during her middle school years.




In this example of the story of Kaguya-Hime, folklore gives explanations and stories to landscapes. The ending of the story is there to explain the volcanic smokes Mount Fuji, which is an active volcano. The story of the bamboo cutter and his wife can give lessons on becoming rewarded for good actions, as taking care of an innocent and vulnerable child led to them becoming rewarded with gold.