young and resolute
fighting forces of evil
Okayama Prefecture Japan is located in the south western part of the country and is where some of my ancestors lived. It is on the island of Honshu and located between the Seto Inland Sea to the south and the Chugoku Mountains to the north. It’s nickname is “The Land of Sunshine” because the number of days with rainfall less than 1 millimeter is the highest in Japan. The capital is Okayama city.
Rather than tell you much more about Okayama Prefecture, I thought I would do something different and introduce you to a popular and delightful Japanese fairytale strongly associated with Okayama, named “Momotaro” or “Peach Boy.” Peaches, and other fruits, are famous products of Okayama, and a Momotaro Festival is held there annually. The capital, Okayama City (population of over 700,000), named its main street Momotarō-Odōri in the Peach Boy’s honor, and you’ll find statues from the tale along the way. I don’t have a photo to post, so I created the above doodle instead to represent the story.
“In the old days, the peach was a symbol of long life and was also believed to be effective in warding off devils.” (japanese.about.com)
I remember hearing the story of Momotaro when I was a little girl, and I have a version of the story that is in both English and Japanese. Here is a summary of the fairytale taken from Wikitravel:
“According to the Japanese fairytale, an old, childless couple found a peach floating down the river, and inside they found a baby boy. They duly adopted him and named him Momotarō (桃太郎), or (quite literally) “Peach Boy”. As he grew, he began to feel greatly indebted to the couple that raised him, and when he was finally grown, he announced that he would be going on a journey to Onigashima (Demon Island) to fight the demons that had been causing trouble in the nearby villages. The old woman prepared kibi-dango (millet dumplings) for him to take on his journey and bid him farewell.
On his way to the island, he befriended a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant by giving them each a piece of the kibi-dango. With their help, he defeated the demons; Momotarō took the demons’ treasures back home and gave them to the old couple to thank them for all the things they’d done for him throughout the years. The couple rejoiced that he was back safely, and they all lived happily ever after.”
“Residents claim that Okayama was the original setting of the fairytale, and that it was based on the legend of Prince Kibitsuhiko’s battle against the ogre Ura, who is said to have lived in Kino-jo (Demon’s Castle) in the area around Soja.” (See the links below for a couple of versions of the Momotaro fairytale.)
During my travels to Japan, I was not able to visit Okayama, but someday I hope to.
Is there a popular story or fairytale associated with where you live, or where your ancestors lived?
This is for the letter “O” Story Challenge by Frizztext, to share a short story or reflection, even an aphorism using a word tagged with each letter of the alphabet.
Other versions of Momotaro: