ONCE upon a time there was an old man and his old wife living in the country in Japan. The old man was a woodcutter. He and his wife were very sad and lonely because they had no children.
One day the old man went into the mountains to cut firewood and the old woman went to the river to wash some clothes.
sooner had the old woman begun her washing than she was very surprised
to see a big peach come floating down the river. It was the biggest
peach she'd ever seen in all her life. She pulled the peach out of the
river and decided to take it home and give it to the old man for his
supper that night.
Late in the afternoon the old man came home,
and the old woman said to him: "Look what a wonderful peach I found for
your supper." The old man said it was truly a beautiful peach. He was so
hungry that he said: "Let's divide it and eat it right away."
the old woman brought a big knife from the kitchen and was getting
ready to cut the peach in half. But just then there was the sound of a
human voice from inside the peach. "Wait! Don't cut me!" said the voice.
Suddenly the peach split open, and a beautiful baby boy jumped out of
The old man and woman were astounded. But the baby
said: "Don't be afraid. The God of Heaven saw how lonely you were
without any children, so he sent me to be your son."
The old man
and woman were very happy, and they took the baby to be their son. Since
he was born from a peach, they named him Momotaro, which means Peach
Boy. They loved Momotaro very much and raised him to be a fine boy.
Momotaro was about fifteen years old, he went to his father and said:
"Father, you have always been very kind to me. Now I am a big boy and I
must do something to help my country. In a distant part of the sea there
is an island named Ogre Island. Many wicked ogres live there, and they
often come to our land and do bad things like carrying people away and
stealing their things. So I'm going to go to Ogre Island and fight them
and bring back the treasure which they have there. Please let me do
The old man was surprised to hear this, but he was also
very proud of Momotaro for wanting to help other people. So he and the
old woman helped Momotaro get ready for his journey to Ogre Island. The
old man gave him a sword and armor, and the old woman fixed him a good
lunch of millet dumplings. Then Momotaro began his journey, promising
his parents that he would come back soon.
went walking toward the sea. It was a long way. As he went along he met
a spotted dog. The dog growled at Momotaro and was about to bite him,
but then Momotaro gave him one of the dumplings. He told the spotted dog
that he was going to fight the ogres on Ogre Island. So the dog said
he'd go along too and help Momotaro.
Momotaro and the spotted dog
kept on walking and soon they met a monkey. The spotted dog and the
monkey started to have a fight. But Momotaro explained to the monkey
that he and the spotted dog were going to fight the ogres on Ogre
Island. Then the monkey asked if he couldn't go with them. So Momotaro
gave the monkey a dumpling and let the monkey come with them.
and the spotted dog and the monkey kept on walking. Suddenly they met a
pheasant. The spotted dog and the monkey and the pheasant were about to
start fighting. But when the pheasant heard that Momotaro was going to
fight the ogres on Ogre Island, he asked if he could go too. So Momotaro
gave the pheasant a dumpling and told him to come along.
with Momotaro as their general, the spotted dog and the monkey and the
pheasant, who usually hated each other, all became good friends and
followed Momotaro faithfully. They walked a long, long way, and finally
reached the sea. At the edge of the sea Momotaro built a boat. They and
all got in the boat and started across the sea toward Ogre Island.
they came within sight of the island, they could see that the ogres had
a very strong fort there. And there were many, many ogres. Some of them
were red, some blue, and some black.
First the pheasant flew
over the walls of the fort and began to peck at the ogres' heads. They
all tried to hit the pheasant with their clubs, but he was very quick
and dodged all their blows. And while the ogres weren't looking, the
monkey slipped up and opened the gate of the fort. Then Momotaro and the
spotted dog rushed into the fort and started fighting the ogres too.
was a terrible battle! The pheasant pecked at the heads and eyes of the
wicked ogres. And the monkey clawed at them. And the spotted dog bit
them. And Momotaro cut them with his sword. At last the ogres were
completely defeated. They all bowed down low before Momotaro and
promised never to do wicked things again. Then they brought Momotaro all
the treasure they had stored in the fort.
It was the most
wonderful treasure you can imagine. There was much gold and silver and
many precious jewels. There was an invisible coat and hat, arid a hammer
that made a piece of gold every time you hit it on the ground, and many
other wonderful things. Momotaro and his three helpers carried all this
in their boat back to the land. Then they made a cart and put all the
treasure in the cart and pulled it back to Momotaro's house.
happy the old man and woman were when they saw their son return safely
from Ogre IsIand! They were very rich now with all the treasure that
Momotaro had brought, and they all lived together very, very, happily.