Every time I think about the tale of Momotaro, I can’t help but get this rush of nostalgia in me. It immediately takes me back to my childhood, where my grandma would read to me Momotaro’s heroic endeavours, and I would imagine Momotaro embarking on a daring journey, vanquishing evil, and making new friends along the way.
The story of the Peach Boy, Momotaro, is a classic Japanese fairy tale that dates back to as far as Edo period Japan. It’s managed to last the ages because of it simplistic way of conveying – adventure, comradery, courage, and respect.
At this point, you’re probably wondering – so why the alias, Peach Boy? Well, the story goes like this…
One day a giant peach is dropped from heaven into a river. By that river, unknowingly, an old woman washes her clothes. As she scrubs away, she notices the enormous peach floating down the stream. Excited to find a peach so big, she scoops it out to take home for supper.
Her husband arrives home after a hard day’s work of cutting firewood in the mountains. Starved, and surprised to see an enormous peach, he prompts his wife to cut it open. The old woman takes out a big knife, but just before she starts to cut the peach, a voice from inside the peach yells out “Wait, don’t cute me!”.
Startled by the voice, the old woman warily leans backward. Her husband and she, anxiously watch the peach shake about as the thing inside pushes it open. The old couple gasp when the peach breaks apart into two, and a baby boy cheekily emerges.
It takes a moment for the old couple to shake their senses back, but once they do, both realise that the baby in front of them is a gift from heaven. They agree to raise the infant as their own son, and give him the name Momotaro – which literally means, Peach Boy in Japanese.
Momotaro grows up to be a respectful, kind, and strong boy. On his 15th birthday, he wakes up with a spiritual urge to vanquish the uprising of evil ogres on one of the country’s distant islands.
Momotaro tells his father about the quest he will undertake. At first his father is saddened that Momotaro will leave on a dangerous journey, but at the same time, he is proud that his son is going to fulfil a heroic act. The father gives Momotaro his blessing, then gifts him a sword and armour to aid him on his quest.
Along the way, Momotaro, encounters a talking dog, monkey, and pheasant. At first, each of the animals are hostile to him, but after he tells them about his quest to fight the ogres, they immediately agree to aid him. For their courage in joining him, he rewards each animal a dumpling.
Once the group finally arrive at Ogre island, they stare up at the giant fort, pondering how they will be able to enter it.
The pheasant, being a smart thinker, flew over the fort and distracted the guards by pecking at their heads. Monkey was the best climber of the group, so while the ogres were distracted, he climbed the walls and opened the fort for Momotaro and the dog to rush in.
There were many ogres inside the fort, and it was a long battle, but eventually the heroic band of warriors were able to beat the ogres. After facing defeat, the ogres bowed in surrender to Momotaro, promised to never be evil again, and gave him all the treasure they had stolen.
Momotaro was amazed by the treasure, he had never seen so much gold and silver in his life . He split the treasure up between his group, bid them farewell, and made his way back home to his parents.
After arriving home, he showed his parents all the treasure he had collected. Like Momotaro, they were surprised and happy to see so much gold and silver he collected. But most importantly, they were happiest to see that Momotaro had returned back to them safely.
And that ends the tale of the notorious Peach Boy, Momotaro.
The tale of Momotaro is fun adventure that anyone can enjoy. It’s a story embedded in Japanese people since childhood. So much so, that it’s easy to find Momotaro personified in many products. We even dedicated a cute maki-e pin design to this loveable legend.
Let us know what you think about this classic story, or tell us about your favourite Japanese fairy tale in the comments below!