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Momotarō

Momotarō (桃太郎, “Peach Boy”) is a popular hero of Japanese folklore originating from Okayama Prefecture. His name translates as Peach Tarō, a common Japanese masculine name, and is often translated as Peach Boy. Momotarō is the title of various books, films and other works that portray the tale of this hero.

Plot

According to the present form of the tale (dating to the Edo period), Momotarō came to Earth inside a giant peach which was found floating down a river, by an old, childless woman who was washing clothes there. The woman and her husband discovered the child when they tried to open the peach to eat it. The child explained that he had been sent by Heaven to be their son. The couple named him Momotarō, from momo (peach) and tarō (eldest son in the family).

Years later, Momotarō left his parents to fight a band of marauding Oni (demons or ogres) on a distant island. En route, Momotarō met and befriended a talking dog, monkey and pheasant, who agreed to help him in his quest. At the island, Momotarō and his animal friends penetrated the demons' fort and beat the band of demons into surrendering. Momotarō and his new friends returned home with the demons' plundered treasure and the demon chief as a captive. Momotarō and his family lived comfortably from then on.
1885 English Momotaro published by Hasegawa Takejirō

Momotarō is strongly associated with Okayama, and his tale may have its origins there. The demon island (Onigashima (鬼ヶ島)) of the story is sometimes associated with Megijima Island, an island in the Seto Inland Sea near Takamatsu, due to the vast manmade caves found on that island.

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