Tag Archives: Fairytale

Taketori Monogatari

It’s about a bamboo cutter. He basically just cuts wood all day. Him and his wife and they don’t have any kids. One day he cuts open a bamboo… and inside there is a female baby. And it is glowing and majestic, so he takes it home and shows his wife. And he tells his wife “oh we gotta take care of it”. And he starts to cut down more bamboo and bits of gold come from it. The baby grows up to be a beautiful young woman and all of Japan finds out about her. A group of noblemen try to get her hand in marriage and she has an impossible task for them. Then the emperor hears about it and the woman just rejects him, without a task. He continues to ask her to marry him and she keeps rejecting him. One night it is a full moon and she is staring at the moon, crying at it, and she can’t tell her father and mother why. Then she tells her parents that she is actually from the moon and one day she will have to return soon. Word spreads and the emperor hears. One night, these … people from the moon just come down from the moon, sometimes they are on horses or clouds, and the emperor has his army to protect the woman but the people from the moon take her. Her father writes a letter to her and burns it at the highest mountain in hopes that she will read it. Some believe the mountain is actually Mount Fuji. 


This performance was done when the speaker, a college student who grew up in Japan, was sharing Japanese fairy tales that they knew. When asked how the speaker knew of this, they explained that this tale is thousands of years old and is commonly known in Japan, as there have even been cartoons and adaptations of it. The speaker also makes a point that many Japanese stories are not about virtues or sins, but about contemplating random topics such as death or one’s role in society. 

Personal Thoughts:

This fairytale is quite interesting as it uses a lot of moon imagery throughout the story. One can gather that this story focuses on love as well as the woman’s role in society, just as the speaker mentioned was a theme in some fairy tales. The speaker mentions during their rendition of the story that sometimes the people from the moon ride on horses or clouds, which demonstrates well how this story is passed down with different versions, and even telling it today there can be different versions that are mentioned at the same time. Upon hearing this story, it also sounded quite familiar, which is due to the fact that it was adapted into a Studio Ghibli film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, giving a prime example of how folklore can enter authored literature and into mainstream media. Because Studio Ghibli is such a well-known film company, this allows for the fairytale to have a much more global audience. That being said, the tale also becomes authored literature rather than a folk tale that is passed down, ultimately changing it from versions that are performed, such as the one here. 

For another version of this fairytale, refer to: 

“Taketori Monogatari”. Ohio State University.


Urashima Taro

This is a fisherman in old Japan. He is walking on the beach and sees a baby turtle being bullied by some youngsters. So he’s like “Scram scram get out of here”. And the turtle talks to him like “thank you so much. I’ll make sure to pay my gratitude”. And he goes about his day, and forgets about it. And one day he is approached by the baby turtle again, and the turtle says “hey if you want to hang out, you can hang out with my family and I, and we can show you a good time. You can ride on my back”. So the fisherman rides on the turtle’s back and goes deep into the ocean where there is eventually an underwater palace. And, it’s basically a kingdom of sea creatures and I believe their version of a princess. A sea human, basically. Because you can breathe underwater when you are with these people. And so they are having a good ol’ time, feasting it up, drinking, partying. And then he realizes “Oh i should probably head back it’s been way too long”. So he tells the person in charge, basically the queen, “Oh i should head back” and she goes “oh you don’t have to head go!”, but he says “no i have to go”. And she tells him “okay you can go but I have a gift for you” and she gives him a box. She tells him “whatever you do you can’t open this box. It’s a box that will protect you but you can’t open it”. He goes back and realizes that everything is different, the shoreline is different, the stores are different. He asks a kid “where is blah blah blah” and the kid says “What are you talking about”. The man realizes that he has been gone for 100s of years and becomes depressed realizing that everything around him was gone. So he decides to open the box and the woman comes out saying “told you not to open” and all the time that he has stolen catches up to him, and he becomes a mummified corpse. 


This performance was done when the speaker, a college student who grew up in Japan, was sharing Japanese fairy tales that they knew. When asked how the speaker knew of this, they explained that this tale is thousands of years old and is commonly known in Japan, as there have even been cartoons and adaptations of it. The speaker also makes a point that many Japanese stories are not about virtues or sins, but about contemplating random topics such as death or one’s role in society. 

Personal Thoughts:

This fairytale focuses a lot on the idea of how one should spend their life and the consequences of one’s decisions. The informant made a note that this specific fairytale was about how one should not waste their life away by partying, as they could miss their life. From this specific tale, one can gather that this story is trying to teach a specific lesson, having an ending that is about how not focusing on the life in front of you can ultimately destroy you in the end. Since this is a fairytale that is well-known by the folk community, it can be deduced that this fairytale is not only used to tell a story, but also to teach this specific lesson to youth, as with many fairytales from other folk communities.  

For another version of this fairytale, refer to: 

Ozaki, Yei Theodora. “The Story of Urashima Taro, The Fisher Lad”. Lit2Go. 


The Thursday Story MJ

Once upon a time, not so far from here, there was a widowed lumberjack. He would wake up every morning very early and go into the forest and always come home around lunch time. Now this lumberjack also had a young teenage daughter. One night the teenage daughter said to her dad “I’m so bored. I hate eating all the same foods we do. Can’t you do something different?” So the next day, the lumberjack decided to wake up even earlier and cut even more wood so that he could buy his daughter rich and delicious foods. Well, he worked all day, and around lunchtime he came to his house, and the door was locked and his daughter was nowhere in sight, and he was tired and he was hungry, and. . . he just couldn’t believe his life. Right at that moment, right at the moment he was about to cry, he heard a voice that said “Don’t cry. Why don’t you tell me your story?” So the lumberjack thought maybe he was hallucinating because he was so hungry. So he slid down the wall of his house, and started to tell the voice his story. He told the voice how he had been working so very very hard and how he had got up even earlier this morning because his daughter had said she wanted to eat more rich and delicious foods. And he worked all day and he came to his house, and it was locked and his daughter was nowhere in sight. Right at that moment, the voice said to the lumberjack “Climb the stairs.” The lumberjack looked around and he saw no stairs. Of course he saw no voice either. But he decided to follow the instructions of the voice. Sure enough, he put out his foot, and although he couldn’t see it, he felt a step. He climbed one step, two steps, three steps. And when he got to the top of this imaginary staircase, the voice said “Open your eyes.” The man opened his eyes, and there were all kinds of jewels: rubies and diamonds and emeralds, and the voice said “Take as much as you’d like.” Immediately, the lumberjack started to fill his pockets with the rubies and diamonds and emeralds, and as soon as he had filled up his pockets, boop! Suddenly, he fell down, and he was right at the door of his house. Of course, right at that moment, here comes his teenage daughter. She opens the door, she says “What- what are you doing? What do you have in your pockets?” He said “Shh-shh! let’s just go inside,” and he went inside and locked the door. Well, he. . . decided to put all of his jewels in a special box in the living room, and the next thing he knows, there’s a knock at his door, it was one of the neighbors. “Oh lumberjack, oh lumberjack, can we please borrow some wood? We see you have a beautiful fire.” The lumberjack said “What are you talking about?” The lumberjack went outside, and sure enough, there was this light radiating through his windows. Well, he really didn’t want to tell the neighbors what was happening, so he just told them “I’m sorry, I can’t help you,” and he went back into his home. Well the lumberjack was now a very. . . very. . . wealthy man. So he took all the jewels, and um. . . got money, and was able to buy a house across the street from the palace of the king. Now, luckily for the lumberjack’s daughter, the king also had a teenage daughter. The two girls would get together and do fun things, and one of the funnest things they would do is go to the princess’s swimming pool. Now it was really a swimming hole, um beautifully decorated, all kinds of plants surrounded this beautiful swimming hole. So, one day when they went swimming, the princess took off her beautiful diamond necklace and hung it from a limb. They jumped into the water and had a great day, and everyone went home. When the princess was sitting at dinner with her father the king, she realized she was not wearing her necklace, and all she could think was “The last time I had it I was with the lumberjack’s daughter.” Well right at that moment the king said “Well. . . now I understand how that poor lumberjack could become a millionaire. He’s a thief! His daughter obviously stole your necklace.” Right at that moment, the king had the guards go for the lumberjack and the daughter. The daughter was put in an orphanage, and the lumberjack was put in the middle of a square with a sign around his nack that says “This is what happens to those who steal from the king!” 

The lumberjack was quite depressed, sitting in the square with a sign around his neck. People would come by, some would throw tomatoes at him, some would yell at him. But, one day, this very kind man walked by and just dropped a coin. The lumberjack said “Kind sir, thank you so much but, what am I going to do with a coin? It would make me feel so much better if I could just tell you my story.” Right at that moment, the lumberjack started to tell the stranger everything that happened. That he was a hard working lumberjack. That his young daughter had asked him to do something so she could eat more rich and delicious foods. That he decided to wake up earlier and cut more wood so he could make more money so he could give his daughter what she asked. He talked to the stranger about the voice that told him to climb the stairs, and about the riches that he was able to find, and how he was able to buy this palace across the street from the king. And the stranger decided that this man was not really a thief, he was really a nut, and he went on his way. But right as the lumberjack was telling his story, the princess decided to go back to the swimming pool, and right as she was gonna jump into the water, she had an urge to sneeze. And as she lifted her head to sneeze, she saw her necklace hanging on the limb. She immediately ran to her father and said “I made a mistake, my friend didn’t steal my necklace, its right here. I forgot, I left it on the limb!” Well the king was a very good king. But more importantly, he was very just. And he decided that the best thing to do was to forgive the lumberjack, and give him back his palace and all of his riches, and of course his daughter was taken out of the orphanage. And they all lived happily ever after.

Now this is the Thursday story, somewhere around the world, some version of this story is told every Thursday night. Some people find it very funny, some people find it very wise. Would you like to continue this tradition?

Armenian Tale: Kikoyi Mahy

Կիկոյի մահը

Transliteration: Kikoyi Mahy

Translation: Kiko’s Death

Description by Informant:

There was a poor family who had three girls. All of which were unmarried. One day the dad sent one of the daughters to bring a water from the well nearby. The girl goes to the well and sees a big tree next to the well. She starts thinking or dreaming, “If I get married one day and have a son named Kikos, what if Kikos comes to the well and climbs the tree and falls from it and dies?” She starts crying, “My dear Kikos, why did you die? Oh my dear son, how did this happen?” And she stays at the well and keeps crying and crying as if this truly happened.

Meanwhile, the parents notice the girl didn’t come back, so they sent the second sister to see what happened. The second sister goes to the well and finds her older sister crying at the well. After finding out why she is crying, the sister also starts crying “Oh my dear nephew Kikos, why did you come here and climb the tree?”. Then the third sister joins and also cries. Then the father sends the mother to see what happened to the girls. The mother arrives and finds out what could happen to Kikos. She joins the daughters in crying.

Finally the father decides to go and see what happened to his family. When he comes to the well and finds out the destiny of his unborn grandson, he says “Are you women crazy? Who says that Kikos will come to the well to get water? Kikos is going to become a king. When have you seen a king go and get water for himself? Someone else will get the water for him. Now lets go enjoy life!”. The End.

Background Information: This is a popular Armenian children’s fable/ fairytale. Many different versions, some with more detail than others.

Context: The informant told me about this tale during a conversation in which I asked her to tell me about an Armenian folk narrative that she knows about.

Thoughts: It is clear that this is a story for children. I believe that the moral of the story is to not look too far into the future and worry about things that may never happen. Live in the present and enjoy life. If you are going to thing about the future then think positively, not negatively. I think the story has underlining air of misogyny. It is portraying the women as these highly emotional beings who cannot decipher reality from fantasy, while the only man in the story is pictured as the reasonable one although he does say that his grandson will become a king. I think he says this to be sarcastic and to show how dramatic the women are being.

Shirin and Farhad

The following informant is a 22-year-old Persian-American women from Southern California. In this account she is describing a tale her parents and family used to tell her when she was little. This is a transcription of our conversation, she is identified as S and I am identified as K:

S: So, my name, um because it means sweet, there used to be this fairy tale in Iran, that basically every old person, in their entire life, and basically everyone has been told this story.

So basically, there was this princess and her name was Shirin, and there was a King and his name was Farhad. So basically, Shirin lived in this Castle… and… um… and she was just like this princess of like Persia. And he like… well… it’s kind of like a Rapunzel type of situation and basically Farhad came and like saved her and took her outside the castle and like gave her a new life. He was basically… he was just like her prince, but like she was the main focal point of the story as opposed to that guy. But like yeah, the story is not like too-in depth, it’s pretty short. It’s basically… just like… there is a prince and a princess and it’s like bada bing bada boom

S: But umm… yeah, my parents told me that, and basically most people who name their kids Shirin, or Shireen, will tell their children that story. It’s kind of like Rapunzel, because she is just like stuck in the castle and he like comes and saves her, but like the Persian version, haha.

K: Who is told this story?

S: Well like any Persian over the age of 45 knows it cause it’s like a children’s tale, but they always tell it to kids named Shirin

K: Do you like the story?

S: Well, yeah, because there was not a story, like growing up in America, the princesses were not named Shirin, so when I heard about a princess with my name and she was rescued by a knight in shining armor, I was like very there for it… because like yes… it was not Cinderella, aurora, or whatever the fuck and now there was finally a Shirin

K: What does it mean to you?

S: Um, I think when I was like a child, I thought that your name … actually no when I was a child I did not give a shit about that, I just thought it was so cool that I had a princess and other people didn’t. But as an adult it makes me feel better, that my name has meaning and history behind it.


The informant told this retelling while we were at a café by her school. The conversation was recorded and transcribed.


First of all I love her retelling of the story, I thought it was great. But I also think that her not knowing the specifics of the story and only knowing the main ideas is okay because her take away from being told this story was that her name means something. It makes me think of the Oral-Formulaic Theory, how if she were to tell her child the story, she will probably keep the plot the same because that is what she knows, but the formulaic speech (little details) she could change up. In addition, which is what I find most interesting, is that she explained that this is a popular fairy tale, that is about a Persian princess, tell young Persian children. After doing some research, this story is actually based on a poem, which was based on a real event, of an Armenian princess named Shirin falling in love with the Kind of Persia. So, in the original story, the princess was not Persian, but to the informant its more about the name of the princess than her origins.

Here are two links to look at the original poetic version and historical version that inspired this tale. (These are not links to the absolute original version, as I don’t understand Farsi, I had difficulty procuring it):