Home Podcasts Ichimon Japan Was Momotarō a thief? (All About Peach Bob) | Ichimon Japan 09

Was Momotarō a thief? (All About Peach Bob) | Ichimon Japan 09

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Today’s Question

On this episode of Ichimon Japan we ask: Was Momotarō a thief?

Topics Discussed

  • The folktale/fairy tale of Momotarō
  • Whether Peach Boy is a good English title for Momotarō
  • How old the story of Momotarō is
  • Kunio Yanagita
  • The most common motifs of the Momotarō story
  • Some of the many variations that exist of the story of Momotarō
  • The possible connection between Kehi Shrine in the city of Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture,and the tale of Momotarō
  • The connection between Kinashi in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture and the story of Momotarō
  • Okayama Prefecture’s push to associate themselves with the story of Momotarō
  • The origins of Momotarō Shrine (Momotarō Jinja) in Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture and what you can expect to see there
  • The photograph of mummified oni remains that was and may still be on display at Momotaro Shrine
  • What the oldest printed copy of Momotarō is
  • Momotarō Gempuku Sugata (1779), an Edo Period dark sequel to Momotarō in which the daughter of the oni of Onigashima gets sent to kill Momotarō but instead falls in love with him and then kills herself
  • Whether Momotarō was justified in his actions
  • How Momotarō has changed over the centuries
  • Momotarō’s adoption as a symbol of right wing nationalism
  • The link between Onigashima and real world places like Hawaii, Taiwan, and Singapore
  • A mock trial held by elementary school students in Shizuoka Prefecture in order to determine whether Momotarō was justified in his actions
  • Yotsuba Kuramochi and her expansive research intended to determine whether the oni really were the villains in the story of Momotarō
  • What happens when artificial intelligence tries to interpret the story of Momotarō
  • And more!

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Sources, Links, Videos, Etc.

If you would like to read Momotarō, or the Peach Boy: Japan’s Best-Loved Folktale as National Allegory (the dissertation that was used as the main source for this episode) then please use the link below.

Here is the YouTube video of a version of Momotarō that was mentioned during this episode. It features a tombi (a bird known as a black kite in English) telling Momotarō to go defeat the oni. The bird does not tell Momotarō what the oni did to warrant their elimination. However, in the scene after Momotarō receives the information from the bird, Momotarō is shown telling the old man and the old woman that the oni have been doing things like stealing food. Where he got this information is unknown.

Here is the article about the elementary school students in Shizuoka Prefecture that put Momotarō on trial. It is in Japanese.

Here is the article about Yotsuba Kuramochi, an elementary school girl who conducted research on whether the oni were actually the bad ones in the story of Momotarō. The article is in Japanese.

The book that was published based on Kuramochi’s research can be purchased via Amazon Japan for 1,650 yen.

And now for the new definitive version of Momotarō. This is the video generated by an AI system that was mentioned at the end fo this episode. It is the most ridiculous and nonsensical version of Momotarō ever. Enjoy.

In case you would like to read about this strange AI interpretation of Momotarō and can read Japanese, check out the article below.

Japanese Vocabulary List

Most episodes feature at least one or two interesting Japanese words or phrases. Here’s some of the ones that came up on this episode. All information is from Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC.

  • One
    • 鬼 【おに(P); き】 (n) (1) ogre; demon; oni
  • Momo
    • 桃 【もも(P); モモ】 (n) peach (Prunus persica)

We Want Your Questions

Is there something about Japan that confuses you? Is there something about Japanese culture that you would like to learn more about? Is there something in Japanese history that you would like us to explain? We’re always looking for new questions about Japan to answer, so if you have one, please send it to ichimon@japankyo.com.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing Theme: Produced by Apol (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Fiverr)

Ichimon Japan cover art: Produced by Erik R.

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