“‘Peach Boy’ or ‘Momotaro’ in Japanese is this story about this kid who was born in a peach and found on a stream. This grandma and grandpa found the peach on the beach, sliced it, found the kid and raised him up. When the kid gets older and bigger, he hears about this island with monsters that have killing and scaring the villagers, so he goes to kill them. Before he heads out, his grandparents, or the people who raised him, give him a basket of riceballs, for food or whatever. Along the way, the Peach Boy runs into 3 animals, a monkey, a dog and a crane. He gives the riceball treats to the animals and they are like ‘You are so kind, I will help you.’ With the animals to help him, he defeats or kills the monsters and he becomes a hero and everyone lives happily ever after, as usual.”
This is a popular children’s story, so the hero has qualities that society holds dear. First, he came from humble, though mysterious origins; then he aimed to defeat things that were bigger and more terrifying than him. These ‘monsters,’ or demons or ogres depending on what legend you hear could symbolize large hurdles in work and school that people have to overcome in order to be successful. As for the creatures, in many retellings of the legend, the bird is a pheasant and the other two animals are a dog and a monkey. From what I read, there is little symbolism to those animals besides the physical attributes that they have such as the pheasant flying in the air, the dog on the ground, and the monkey being able to travel between the two planes by climbing. Momotaro in general seems to be a cute story hitting right at the base levels of bravery, character and youth, and the power that the young can do.