The Full Wiki

More info on The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter: Map

  
  

Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:



, also known as  , is a 10th century Japanese folklore. It is considered the oldest extant Japanese narrative and an early example of proto-science fiction.


It primarily details the life of a mysterious girl called Kaguya-hime, who was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant. She is said to be from Tsuki-no-Miyako (月の都 "The Capital of the Moon") and has unusual hair that "shines like gold".

Narrative

One day, while walking in the bamboo forest, an old, childless bamboo cutter called came across a mysterious, shining stalk of bamboo. After cutting it open, he found inside it a baby the size of his thumb. He rejoiced to find such a beautiful girl and took her home. He and his wife raised her as their own child and named her Kaguya-hime (かぐや姫 "radiant-night princess"). Thereafter, Taketori no Okina found that whenever he cut down a stalk of bamboo, inside he found a small nugget of gold. Soon he became rich, and Kaguya-hime grew from a small baby into a woman of ordinary size and extraordinary beauty. At first, Taketori no Okina tried to keep her away from outsiders, but over time the news of her beauty had spread.

Eventually, five princes came to Taketori no Okina's residence to ask for Kaguya-hime's hand in marriage. The princes eventually persuaded Taketori no Okina to tell a reluctant Kaguya-hime to choose one from among them. To this end, Kaguya-hime concocted impossible tasks for the princes to accomplish. She would agree to marry the prince who managed to bring her a specified item.

That night, Taketori no Okina told the five princes what each of them must bring. The first was told to bring her the stone begging bowl of the Buddha from India. The second was told to retrieve a jewelled branch from the island of Penglai. The third was told to seek the legendary robe of the fire-rat of Chinamarker. The fourth must retrieve a colored jewel from a dragon's neck. The final prince was told to find the seashell treasure of the swallows.

Realizing that it was an impossible task, the first prince returned with an expensive bowl, but after noticing that the bowl did not glow with holy light, Kaguya-hime saw through his deception. Likewise, two other princes attempted to deceive her with fakes, but also failed. The fourth gave up after encountering a storm, while the final prince lost his life in his attempt to retrieve the object.

Taketori no Okina takes Kaguya-hime to his home, Drawn by Tosa Hiromichi, c.
1600
Kaguya-hime goes back to the Moon
After this, the Emperor of Japan, Mikado, came to see the strangely beautiful Kaguya-hime and, upon falling in love, asked her to marry him. Although he was not subjected to the impossible trials that thwarted the princes, Kaguya-hime rejected his request for marriage as well, telling him that she was not of his country and thus could not go to the palace with him. She stayed in contact with the Emperor, but continued to rebuff his requests.

That summer, whenever Kaguya-hime saw the full moon, her eyes filled with tears. Though her adoptive parents worried greatly and questioned her, she was unable to tell them what was wrong. Her behaviour became increasingly erratic until she revealed that she was not of this world and must return to her people on the Moon. In some versions of this tale, it is said that she was sent to the Earth as a temporary punishment for some crime, while others say it is because she was sent to earth for safety during a celestial war.

As the day of her return approached, the Emperor set many guards around her house to protect her from the Moon people, but when an embassy of "Heavenly Beings" arrived at the door of Taketori no Okino's house, the many guards were blinded by a strange light. Kaguya-hime announced that, though she loves her many friends on Earth, she must return with the Moon people to her true home. She wrote sad notes of apology to her parents and to the Emperor, then gave her parents her own robe as a memento. She then took a small taste of the elixir of life, attached it to her letter to the Emperor, and gave it to a guard officer. As she handed it to him, the feather robe was placed on her shoulders, and all of her sadness and compassion for the people of the Earth were forgotten. The heavenly entourage took Kaguya-hime back to Tsuki-no-Miyako ("the Capital of the Moon") against her will, leaving her earthly foster parents in tears.

The parents became very sad and were soon put to bed sick. The guard officer returned to the Emperor with the items Kaguya-hime had given him as her last mortal act, and reported what had happened. The Emperor read her letter and was overcome with sadness. He asked his servants: "Which mountain is the closest place to Heaven?", to which one replied that the Great Mountain of Suruga Provincemarker is the closest place to Heaven. The Emperor ordered his men to take the letter to the summit of the mountain and burn it, with the hope that his message would reach the distant princess. The men were also commanded to burn the pot of elixir of immortality since the Emperor did not desire to live forever without being able to see her. The legend has it that the word became the name of the mountain, Mount Fujimarker. It is also said that the kanji for the mountain, 富士山 (literally "Mountain Abounding with Warriors"), is derived from the Emperor's army ascending the slopes of the mountain to carry out his order. It is said that the smoke from the burning still rises to this day. (In the past, Mount Fuji was much more volcanically active than today.)

Literary connections

Elements of the tale were drawn from earlier stories. The protagonist Taketori no Okina, given by name, appears in the earlier poetry collection Man'yōshū (c. 759; poem# 3791). In it, he meets a group of women to whom he recites a poem. This indicates that there previously existed an image or tale revolving around a bamboo cutter and celestial or mystical women.

A similar retelling of the tale appears in the c. 12th century Konjaku Monogatarishū (volume 31, chapter 33), although their relation is under debate.

There have been suggestions that The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is related to the tale of Swan Lake . This probably is due to Kaguya-hime wearing the hagoromo (羽衣 "feather robe") when she ascends to her homeland. But the hagoromo figures more famously in a group of tales known as the hagoromo densetsu (in one example recorded in the Ohmi-no-kuni Fudo ki tells of a man who instructs his dog to steal the hagoromo of eight heavenly maidens while they were bathing, forcing one of them to become his bride). And the latter is remarkably similar to the tale of how Völundr the Smith and his brothers wedded the swan-maidens.

Banzhu Guniang

In 1957, Jinyu Fenghuang (金玉凤凰), a Chinese book of Tibetan tales, was published.In early 1970s, Japanese literary researchers became aware that "Banzhu Guniang" (班竹姑娘), one of the tales in the book, had certain similarities with The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Initially, many researchers thought that "Banzhu Guniang" must be related to Tale of Bamboo Cutter, although some were skeptical.

In 1980s, studies showed that the relationship is not as simple as initially thought. Okutsuprovides extensive review of the research, and notes that the book Jinyu Fenghuang was intended to be for children, and as such, the editor took some liberties in adapting the tales. No other compilation of Tibetan tales contains the story.

A Tibet-born person wrote that he did not know the story.A researcher went to Sichuanmarker and found that, apart from those who had already read "Jinyu Fenghuang", local researchers in Chengdumarker did not know the story. Tibetan informants in Abamarker did not know the story either.

In popular culture

As a popular folk tale, it has been a source of many adaptations and plot items.

Movies

  • In 1987, Taketori Monogatari (international English title: Princess from the Moon) by Kon Ichikawa was released. It stars Yasuko Sawaguchi, Toshiro Mifune, Ayako Wakao and Megumi Odaka, in her first role. The song "Stay with me" is by Peter Cetera.
  • Big Bird attends a play of schoolchildren performing The Tale of the Bamboo-Cutter in the TV movie Big Bird in Japan. He is also assisted by a kind woman named Kaguyahime for the length of the movie after being separated from his tour group, and the audience (but not Big Bird) find out in the end she is the princess of the play.


Literature

  • In the book Mikrokosmos by Asuka Fujimori, princess Kaguya appears as a daughter of Prince Shōtoku. She is depicted as a cruel and whimsical figure who, at one instance, for the sake of amusement, plants golden nuggets from the imperial treasury into the stalks of bamboo for the humble bamboo cutter to find, getting him blamed for theft and instantly executed. This is an obvious reference to the part of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter where Taketori no Okina finds gold in stalks of bamboo.


Anime and manga



  • In Sailor Moon number eleven of the manga the story has the same references to Princess Kaguya. In Sailor Moon the anime series, the five main characters are on a quest to find and protect the Moon princess. The small and beautiful Moon princess had been reincarnated and sent to the Earth in order to be protected from a horrible battle taking place on the Moon. In some episodes of Sailor Moon Usagi can be seen crying as she looks at the Moon and remembers her past. This can be seen also in Act 10 of the live-action adaptation.


  • The anime series Oh! Edo Rocket, not only is loosely based on the tale of Kaguya-hime, but uses the tale itself within the story. This is done deliberately for comedic value. The anime was adapted from a stage play.
  • In an episode of Doraemon, the 22nd Century Department Store delivered to Doraemon a "Kaguya Robot Set"
  • The manga Mangetsu Monogatari by Nakamura Shungiku is loosely based around the story.
  • In the anime version of Yakitate!! Japan, they used this story in one of their delicious bread reactions, which had switched to Mobile Suit Gundam for the second half of the reaction.
  • The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter has inspired several other anime centred around a princess from the Moon, including Turn A Gundam and Yoake Mae yori Ruriiro na.
  • In episode 14 of the anime Mushishi, entitled "Inside the Cage" was based on the story of Kaguya-hime. In this episode, a childless couple end up conceiving after spending time with a shining white bamboo stalk, and the child the woman gives birth to is born inside of a bamboo shoot.
  • In Sakura Hime Kaden, the heroine, Sakura is a descendant of Princess Kaguya.
  • Isao Takahata and Studio Ghibli are creating a film of Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, set to come out in 2010
  • In Code Geass, Kaguya Sumeragi is named after this tale, and falls in love with the "King Of The Japanese", and "Man of Miracles", Zero, which ties in with Kaguya from the tale falling in love with the Japanese Emperor, as well as only being willing to marry a man who completes one of her impossible tasks.
  • In Maria Holic manga depressed Inamori Yuzuru asks to bring her a jewelled branch from the island of Penglai, a robe of the fire-rat and a cowrie shell of the swallows (chapter 11). Actually, it was just to everybody leave her alone.


Games



  • In the PlayStation 2 and Wii game Ōkami, the player must rescue a girl named Kaguya, who is the Old Bamboo Cutter's granddaughter.


Music



Others



  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency renamed the SELenological and ENgineering Explorer (SELENE) probe KAGUYA.


Notes

  1. Windows on Asia
  2. The Tale of Genji refers to it as "the ancestor of all romances". ( )
  3. (cf. )
  4. Horiuchi (1997:345-346)
  5. Satake (2003:14-18)
  6. Yamada (1963:301-303)
  7. [1]


References





See also

  • Thumbelina - another folktale involving a tiny girl found in vegetation


External links




Embed code:






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message