The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter - Long Range IR Cameras - Weatherproof IR Camera Manufacturer

Published: 13th April 2011
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Narrative

One day, while walking in the bamboo forest, an old, childless bamboo cutter called Taketori no Okina (?, "the Old Man who Harvests Bamboo") 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 ( "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 China. The fourth must retrieve a colored jewel from a dragon's neck. The final prince was told to find the cowrie which was born from 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 Okina'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") 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 Province 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 immortality (, fushi?, or fuji) became the name of the mountain, Mount Fuji. It is also said that the kanji for the mountain, (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'ysh (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 Monogatarish (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[citation needed]. This probably is due to Kaguya-hime wearing the hagoromo ( "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 Vlundr the Smith and his brothers wedded the swan-maidens.

Banzhu Guniang

In 1957, Jinyu Fenghuang (), a Chinese book of Tibetan tales, was published. In early 1970s, Japanese literary researchers became aware that "Banzhu Guniang" (), 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. Okutsu provides 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 Sichuan and found that, apart from those who had already read "Jinyu Fenghuang", local researchers in Chengdu did not know the story. Tibetan informants in Aba did not know the story either.

In popular culture

This "In popular culture" section may contain minor or trivial references. Please reorganize this content to explain the subject's impact on popular culture rather than simply listing appearances, and remove trivia references. (November 2008)

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 Shtoku. 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 the anime/manga series InuYasha, the title character wears a haori made from the fur of the fire rat; derived from The Tale of the Bamboo-Cutter. The plot of the second InuYasha movie: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass revolves heavily around the fairy tale.

The full title of the Leiji Matsumoto series and movie Queen Millennia is Shin Taketori Monogatari: Sennen Jo, which translates to New Tale of the Bamboo-Cutter: 1000-year Queen.

The manga Kaguyahime by Reiko Shimizu is based on the Kaguya-hime story.

Planet Ladder by Yuri Narushima has a similar story centered around a girl named Kaguya who discovers that she is a long-lost princess destined to save one of nine worlds.

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

The Famicom videogame Kaguya Hime Densetsu (Legend of the Moon Princess) made by Victor Entertainment in 1988 is based on the legend of Kaguya. An english translation has been made by The Snark in 2009.

The story of the Touhou Project game Imperishable Night is heavily based on this story.

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

Music

The goa trance/psytrance group Juno Reactor included a track named 'Kaguya Hime' in their album 'Bible of Dreams', released by Blue Room Released in 1997.

In 2006, Japanese musician Namie Amuro released a video for the song "Ningyo" based on the Kaguya-hime legend.

Others

The tokusatsu series Gougou Sentai Boukenger has an episode based around this tale (Task 13: The Treasures of Princess Kaguya).

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

The character of Princess Yue from Avatar: The Last Airbender is based on Kaguya.

Notes

^ Windows on Asia

^ The Tale of Genji refers to it as "the ancestor of all romances". ("Chapter 17 A Picture Contest". The Tale of Genji. http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Genji/00000028.htm. )

^ Richardson, Matthew (2001), The Halstead Treasury of Ancient Science Fiction, Rushcutters Bay, New South Wales: Halstead Press, ISBN 1875684646  (cf. "Once Upon a Time", Emerald City (85), September 2002, http://www.emcit.com/emcit085.shtml#Once, retrieved 2008-09-17 )

^ McCullough, Helen Craig (1990). Classical Japanese Prose. Stanford University Press. pp. 30, 570. ISBN 0-8047-1960-8. 

^ Horiuchi (1997:345-346)

^ Satake (2003:14-18)

^ Yamada (1963:301-303)

^ (ed.) (1957) (in Chinese). . Shanghai: . 

^ (1971). "" (in Japanese). 3. 

^ (1973) (in Japanese). . . 

^ a b (2000) (in Japanese). . . ISBN 4-87737-097-8. 

^ (ed.); (trans.) (2001) (in Japanese). . SKK. 

^ a b (2004) (in Japanese). . . ISBN 4-7629-3521-2. 

^

References

Donald Keene (translator), The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, ISBN 4-7700-2329-4

Japan at a Glance Updated, ISBN 4-7700-2841-5, pages 164165 (brief abstract)

Fumiko Enchi, "Kaguya-hime", ISBN 4-265-03282-6 (in Japanese hiragana)

Horiuchi, Hideaki; Akiyama Ken (1997) (in Japanese). Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei 17: Taketori Monogatari, Ise Monogatari. Tky: Iwanami Shoten. ISBN 4-00-240017-4. 

Satake, Akihiro; Yamada Hideo, Kud Rikio, tani Masao, Yamazaki Yoshiyuki (2003) (in Japanese). Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei 4: Man'ysh. Tky: Iwanami Shoten. ISBN 4-00-240004-2. 

Taketori monogatari, Japanese Text Initiative, Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library

Yamada, Yoshio; Yamda Tadao, Yamda Hideo, Yamada Toshio (1963) (in Japanese). Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei 26: Konjaku Monogatari 5. Tky: Iwanami Shoten. ISBN 4-00-060026-5. 

See also

Thumbelina - another folktale involving a tiny girl found in vegetation

External links

a picture book at Ryukoku University exhibition

Mount Fuji Guide - travel guide for the mountain which appears in the tale

Categories: Japanese fairy tales | Late Old Japanese texts | Monogatari | Extraterrestrial life in popular culture and entertainmentHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements from April 2008 | Articles with trivia sections from November 2008



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