August 04, 2022

#08-228: Momotaro

Momotaro and his companions

Note: Many folk tales feature an old couple wishing for a child, and their request is fulfilled in a most unusual way. Here's a fine example from Japan.

Get Ready: Why do you think so many "heroes" have supernatural births?

Once there lived in Japan an old man, who cut grass in the mountains, and his wife, who washed clothes at the river. One day the old woman saw a giant peach tumbling down the stream. She took a stick and pulled it to her, quickly finished her washing, and returned home to give the peach to the old man.

But when she cut the peach open, out came a child from the seed! The old couple, who had long wished for a son of their own, rejoiced, and named the child Momotaro, or Peach Boy. They took the best of care of him, and he grew up to be strong and adventuresome.

One day Momotaro decided to cross to the Island of the Demons to gather their riches and give them to the old couple. He asked the old woman to make him some dumplings and put them in a pouch on his belt. When he was ready, he set out on his journey.

Soon he encountered a dog by the side of the way, who said, "Momotaro! What's that hanging at your belt?" Momotaro said, "These are fine millet dumplings." "Give me one and I will go with you," said the dog. So Momotaro took a dumpling out of his pouch and gave it to the dog. Next he met a monkey, who got a dumpling in the same way. A pheasant also came flying and asked for a dumpling. So all three went along with Momotaro.

Soon they arrived at the Island of the Demons. They broke through the front gate, and inside met a host of demons, who put up a fight--but Momotaro and his three companions pressed inwards, and at last encountered the Chief of the Demons, Akandoji himself!

The Chief attacked Momotaro with an iron club, but Momotaro dodged him agilely. They grappled with each other until at last Momotaro crushed Akandoji and without difficulty tied him with a rope so tight that he could not move.

Akandoji announced that he would surrender all of his riches. Having collected and arranged a great pile of precious things, Momotaro set out for home. He rejoiced as he marched bravely back, thinking how, with the help of his three companions, he had been able so easily to accomplish his goal.

The old man and the old woman were overjoyed when Momotaro came back safely. He feted everybody bountifully, told many stories of his adventure, displayed his riches, and at last became a leading man of the village.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. adventuresome
  2. agilely
  3. bountifully
  4. dodged
  5. feted
  6. grappled
  7. millet
  8. precious
  9. surrender
  10. tumbling

  1. abundantly; richly
  2. give up
  3. a kind of grain
  4. entertained; hosted
  5. brave; daring
  6. wrestled; fought hand-in-hand
  7. expensive
  8. rolling
  9. moved aside quickly
  10. quickly and skillfully

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for August 4, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. e; 2. j; 3. a; 4. i; 5. d; 6. f; 7. c; 8. g; 9. b; 10. h