This is a story my obaachan (grandma) told me as a little girl, the story of “Momotarō,” which means “peach tarō” or “peach boy.”
Momotaro was sent to earth in a giant peach, and he was found floating down a river by an elderly couple who were washing their clothes in the river. And the old woman took the peach home to her husband, and he helped her cut it open, and lo and behold he found inside little Momotaro. He told the couple he was sent from the heavens to be their son since they had never had children. They gave him the name Momotaro and raised him happily as their son. When Momotaro grew up into a big boy, he ran away to a far away island to fight Japanese demons. During this journey, he met 3 animals: a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant. He became friends with these animals, and all four of them fought these Japanese demons together. They were successful in their venture: they captured the chief, plundered the treasures, and brought them back to Japan where Momotaro, his friends and his family lived happily ever after.
Lisa says that this story did not have any particular meaning to her, but she enjoyed hearing it as a child. Her grandmother, or obaachan, wanted to instill some Japanese heritage in Lisa, since she is only half Japanese and lives in America. She says that it has helped her feel more connected to her Japanese side, because she feels like her family has been very Americanized. And since her children have even less Japanese blood – they are only a quarter – she plans on passing on these stories so they have some appreciation for their Japanese heritage.
I thought it was a cute story, and kind of reminded me of James and the Giant Peach, even though the premise is a little different. I can appreciate the fact that her grandma is trying to connect Lisa to her Japanese heritage, because my mom tried doing the same with my brother and I when we were younger. Except we didn’t really understand what she was trying to do at that point, so we weren’t very receptive and my mom stopped trying. But even now, through this project, I feel a little more connected to my Filipino heritage, and, like Lisa, want to pass it on to my children so they don’t lose appreciation for their ethnic culture. I have also found learning about other heritages very very interesting, as these stories play huge roles in cultural identity.