Japan: tale about Princess Kaguya Hime


This tale is considered among the oldest Japanese narrative in existence. One of the favoutite tales for every Japanese child. Nowadays it is very popular as well, also due to anime version of 2013. The story about Princess Kaguya in original Japanese is known as Taketori Monogatari or The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. The tale goes as follows.

One day, an old bamboo cutter was walking through a bamboo forest and came across a shining stalk of bamboo. He cut it open and found inside it a lovely baby-girl the size of his thumb. Since he and his wife were childless, he rejoiced and brought her back home. Old couple raised her as their own child and named her Kaguya-hime. From then on, the bamboo cutter found that whenever he cut down a stalk of bamboo, inside would be a small nugget of gold and soon, he grew very rich.

Meanwhile, Kaguya-Hime grew into an extraordinarily beautiful young lady. News of her beauty spread far and wide. Eventually, many man came to ask for her hand in marriage. Among them, five personcs, including 2 princes, ministers and commander were very insisting. In response, Kaguya-Hime created impossible tasks for these 5 men, telling them that she would marry the one who managed to fulfill his specific and difficult task.
Kaguya-Hime asked to bring to her as a gift of love rare and sacred pieces. Namely there were: bowl of the Lord Buddha from India, branch from the gold tree with pearls as flowers from the mystic island of Horai, the legendary robe of the fire-rat from China, a magic gem from a dragon’s neck and special cowrie from the swallows, which helped for easy childbirth to a mother.

The first prince was smart and pragmatic. He realized, that it was an impossible task with many dangers could happened on the long journey. Prince decided not to go far and returned with an expensive bowl. However, Kaguya-hime saw his trick and wrote about hus trick in her goodbye poem to him.

The second and third candidates also tried to trick her with fakes. But failed as the first. The fourth gave up and the final prince lost his life while trying. After hearing of these incidents, Mikado, the Emperor of Japan, decided to visit Kaguya-hime and see with his own eyes, her unearthly beauty.
Mikado fell in love with her at first sight and asked her to marry him. Though he was not forced to perform the impossible tasks the other princes had to undergo, Kaguya-hime rejected his proposal, telling him that she was not of his country and thus could not go to the palace with him.

At the same time, during that summer, whenever Kaguya-hime saw the full moon, her eyes would well with tears. Her increasingly strange behavior worried her eldery parents greatly. It got to the point that Kagyua-hime revealed to them that she was not of their world. She came from the Moon and her sad mood was because of the fact that she would have to return to her people on a designated date.

As that day drew nearer, the Mikado sent guards around her house to protect Kaguya-Hime. A group of “Heavenly Beings” arrived at her house and blinded the guards with a strange light. With this, Kaguya-hime announced to everyone that though she loved many people on Earth, she had to return to her true home. She wrote a letter to the Mikado, attached a small portion of the elixir of life. Kaguya-Hime said good-bye to her loving old parents.
After that, a feather robe was placed on her shoulders and with that, all of her compassion and sadness she had for the people of Earth left her.