Momotarō [桃太郎] is a character and popular story of Japanese folklore that tells the story of a boy who was born from a giant peach and was adopted by a couple. The story continues with Momotaro traveling to the island of demons accompanied by a dog, a monkey and a pheasant.
The history may vary according to the source consulted. Basically it's a childish story mainly told in children's books in order to encourage the punishment of good over evil with the iconic battle against demons.
In some versions of Momotaro an elderly couple rejuvenated after eating a peach and had it as their son. In both stories he fights to protect villagers from terrible oni carrying a mochi cake called kibidango capable of giving a thousand strength.
The Momotaro Story
Previously I tried to summarize the story a little, but let's tell it right below:
Once upon a time, an old Okayama villager who was washing clothes by the river as usual, found a giant peach and took it home with the intention of eating it with her husband. Surprised, they found a baby inside him and called him Momotaro.
The couple who had no children, heard the child say: “Don't be afraid. I am not a demon or a fairy. Heaven heard their requests and sent me to be their son and look after them in old age.
The old couple created Momotaro to be big and strong. One day, he decided to leave home to defeat the oni (demons) who lived in Onigashima. Oni were causing terror in the village, killing and looting the villagers.
Despite the sadness, the couple had confidence in Momotaro and supported his departure. For his trip he received several kibidango [黍団子], a type of dumpling made from mochiko (rice flour). Before leaving the elderly couple said: “Go with great care and speed. We hope that with the blessings of the gods, you will return soon and victorious! ”.
Along the way, a monkey, a dog and a pheasant joined him, promising to help him against the oni in exchange for kibidango cookies. Upon reaching the island, they discover that the gate to the fort where the oni were located is locked.
The pheasant flew into the fort and took the key to open the gate. Once inside, they fought the onis. The pheasant pecked his eyes, the dog bit his legs and the monkey jumped on the demons' backs. In the end, Devils they shouted for mercy! In order to save their lives, they gave Momotaro all the stolen treasure.
Momotaro and his companions returned to the village and were welcomed with a big party, being declared a hero by their people. The treasure was shared among all the villagers and their old parents were able to have a comfortable life until the end of their days.
The importance of Momotaro
Despite being a simple story within so many Japanese stories, its goal is to serve as a model for children since its origins in the Meiji Era. The story highlights bravery, power and care for parents.
It is believed that in the original version Momotaro it was born from a natural birth after the elderly couple rejuvenated by eating a peach, it looks quite different, but not to confuse children the version of the giant peach was adopted.
What is the origin of Momotaro?
There are several theories about the origin of the stories based on the legend of Momotaro, and each is controversial. Some claim that the story may have arisen in another province like Aichi and Kagawa, but that it became popular in Okayama due to its promotion in 1960 after the war.
The exact date of its formation as a history is unknown, but the origin of the prototype (literature) is said to be from the end of the Muromachi period to the beginning of the Edo period. Since then, it has been generalized through publications such as the red book.
In the literature of the Edo period, the treasures that Momotaro brings back are swords, caps, hammer, gold, silver and bags that prolong life. In the other stories gold and sango jewelry are added.
The legend of Momotaro closely resembles the legend of Okinawa of a princess named Urikohime [瓜子姫] that is born from a melon. Others found similarities with the Indian legend of Ramayana.
There are theories that say that both Japanese legends came from similar legends of people who appear from within things. Some claim that the gate on the island of Oni makes reference to Fengshui beliefs.
Japanese version of the Momotaro Legend
Below is a popular version of the Japanese Legend of Momotaro:
The Songs of Momotaro
There is a song by Momotaro written by the ministry of education that first appeared in Ordinary Elementary School Song in 1911 composed by Sadaichi Okano. See the Japanese letter below: