The Kaguya Princess

SF was born in Tokyo, Japan, and lived there for 10 years. She is a student at USC majoring in Business Administration. SF is in my Introduction to Music Technology class and she had a ton of Japanese folklore to share with me.

“In Japan, there’s a folktale called ‘Kaguya-hime’ (Kaguya princess). There was an old man who was cutting bamboo in the forest, and he found a baby girl inside one of the bamboos. He didn’t have a child and always wanted a child of his own, so he took her back to her house and raised the baby with his wife. She grew up to be super pretty, so all the rich people wanted to marry her but she said she would only marry if they could complete a request, which was always something impossible. But one day she flew away to the moon ‘cause she was actually a moon princess and had to go home.”

My informant grew up seeing variations of this story in children’s fairytale books and in cartoons, but primarily through means of media, as opposed to verbal means.

This tale portrays the archetype of the kind old man who is a loving adoptive father. This story is quite similar to several Chinese myths I have heard before, where a magical figure or deity is born from a plant, such as a peach or lotus. It also shows a sort of reverence the culture has for nature, conveying the idea that here are magical creatures who live inside of “normal” plants.

For another version of this fairytale, see