Occupation: Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/11/2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Japanese
The following is a conversation with SS that details her interpretation of the popular, Japanese tale about the Peach Boy.
SS: There’s an old couple who wanted a boy and then the grandmother goes to wash clothes in the river area, and then she sees this gigantic peach coming down, and she thinks ‘Oh, great! I’ll this this home with me so we can have this for dinner!’ And when they cut open the peach, there’s a little baby in it. He grows up to become this super-power, amazing boy, and eventually goes and destroys these bad demons that were living on a nearby island and were coming and attacking the farmers or the people in the community.
EK: How did you learn this tale? What is your relation to it?
SS: I tend to focus on tales because it’s just what I teach, but there’s a lot about an old couple wanting a child, and then getting a superhuman child. It’s a pattern, but one really famous one is this story. So this is a story that everyone hears if you grow up in Japan, a story that, I think there’s probably some more sophisticated narrative originally from the Medieval period, that’s probably shared by the warrior community, and then there’s a repackaging of it into this cute little story and that’s just been passed down. So yeah, if you look at Japanese folklore collections, it’s like one of the first stories that will be there.
It seems that this is a fairly popular tale that many Japanese children learn when they are young. Like fairytales we learn in the U.S., such as Snow White or Pinocchio, it appears that the Peach Boy tale is the equivalent in Japanese culture. As Japanese children grow up, this is a tale that they take with them that they most likely will tell their children and will be passed on for generations.