The Story of Momotaro–A Japanese Tale

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Japanese
Age: 25
Occupation: Office Worker
Residence: Japan
Date of Performance/Collection: April 24
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): English

Main Piece: This is a Japanese tale my friend told me about.


Long ago an elderly couple who lived in the mountains were doing their laundry as usual, and the grandmother saw a huge peach floating in the river, the grandmother took the peach home and cut it to eat it. But a baby boy came out from the peach. They named the baby boy Momotaro (momo= peach Taro= a very classic name for boys).

The boy grew so fast and very strong. One day. Momotaro said to the elderly couple he will go to the devils’ island to defeat the devils. The elderly couple gave Momotaro dumplings (きびだんご)so he could eat it on the trip.

On the way to the island, he met a dog and a monkey. Momotaro gave them きびだんご and they joined him to the island. Later on, he met a pheasant , also gave it a きびだんご and it also joined the party. The crew grew (like avengers).

They all successfully arrived at the devil’s island and cooperated with animals to get rid of the devils. He went back to his house and lived with the grandpa and grandma happily ever after.

Background:

My informant is a 25-year-old Japanese woman who grew up mostly in Hong Kong and Korea. She currently works in Japan. AI remembers hearing about this story on TV program about Japanese folktales. She isn’t sure if they tell this story in Japanese schools because she didn’t attend school in Japan. She says the story doesn’t mean much to her and it’s a popular tale in Japan. AI is also not sure of the meaning, but she thinks it has to do with working together to fight your devils.

Thoughts:

I don’t know any Japanese tales, but I have always been interested in Japanese culture and language. I think this story about a boy working with other animals to defeat the devil is an important message, if this is something that is told to children in Japanese schools. It tells them that they shouldn’t fight with their friends and that if they ever have problems, they should work together to figure it out. I think the message is common in other cultures as well.