I thought it might be fun this month to re-post some of my most popular fairy tale posts. This past year, my post about Momotaro, the Peach Boy from 2010 got the second most views of any of my fairy tales.
This is actually one of Japan’s best-known folktales, although I had never heard of it before. The story is available on-line here, but I read a copy I borrowed from the library which seems to be a fairly faithful retelling.
An old man and his wife are sad and lonely because they have no children. One day, while washing clothes in the stream the woman finds giant peach which she takes home as a treat for her husband. Before they can cut it open, it bursts and a baby boy pops out, an answer to their prayers. They name the child Momotaro, which means Peach Boy.
The boy grows up big, strong and brave. When he is a teenager, he decides to go on a quest to kill the ogres that live on Ogre Island. These horrible ogres have terrorized the villages for years, stealing the peoples’ treasures and ruining their property. His parents help him prepare for his adventure by giving him a banner and sword and dumplings to eat.
On his way to the sea, Momotaro meets three animals, a dog, a monkey and a pheasant. After he shares his dumplings with each of them, they decide to join him. These three creatures, who would naturally be enemies, become good friends. The four of them, each using their own abilities and skills, defeat the ogres and return the treasures to their rightful owners.
Momotaro and his three companions happily went home to the little cottage with the old mother and the old father. They all lived together there in peace and contentment until the end of their days.
The lesson here, as I see it, is a good one. When we work together, we can do the seemingly impossible. Alternately, delicious food can make anyone your friend.
It’s interesting that like in other fairy tales, brute strength doesn’t win. The ogres are definitely stronger than Momotaro and his motley crew, but Momotaro and the animals use their intelligence and talents, and they work together which gives them the upper hand. They bring home the ogres’ treasure, too, similar to the ending of Boots and the Troll.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.