Asia's History, Myths

The Moon Princess Kaguya

Myths are not stories that are untrue; rather they are tales that don t fit neatly into the historical record which serve as a foundation to a culture.
Long ago, in Japan there lived in old, poor, and very sad bamboo cutter. Every morning, he would go out into the woods all alone, cut down whatever bamboo stalks he could find, until the sun set, and then carry them all home for his wife to sell the next morning and while this provided a meager existence for himself, and his wife they both truly regretted never having a child to care for, and shower with love in their old age. Then, one day, while the old man toiled he came across a mysterious stalk of bamboo, that glowed with brilliant light, and so full of curiosity the old man approached the stalk, and what he saw baffled him, for nestled inside the hollow stem was something miraculous, a tiny child three inches tall.
the bamboo cutter took the miniature human shaped creature back home to his wife, and because they had long regretted that they had had no children, together they decided to raise her as their own daughter, so they could expend all of the love of their old age on this miraculous bamboo baby, but that wasn’t all they got for the next day, when the old man woke up before dawn, and went out to work as usual he found a promising bamboo grove right away, and when he cut down the first stalk gold nuggets, and precious gems fell out, he was astonished once, the shock wore off and he collected his treasures, he went and filled a second stalk, and a third, and a fourth, and a fifth, all with similar riches inside, the old man leapt with happiness and cheered to the sky for his good fortune for his family was now rich, and at long last he could retire.
three months passed quickly in familial bliss, and in that time the bamboo child grew, into a regular sized human girl, her foster parents loved to comb her hair and dress her in fine clothes, and her beauty was so radiant it seemed as though she was made of moonlight, then, when the girl came of age, it was time for the old couple to give her a name, so they summoned a renowned name giver from their village, and he bestowed upon her the name kaguya-hime, princess of light, to celebrate this momentous occasion for three days, the family hosted a party with song, dance, and music and everyone in attendance who saw princess kaguya sword that there wasn’t anyone else on earth as beautiful as she. Afterward, news of her beauty spread far and wide, and soon enough five princes came to seek her hand in marriage, the old woodcutter asked her to consider them for he knew he would not be around forever, and he wanted to be sure she wouldn’t be alone after he and his wife died, but the truth was princess kaguya didn’t really want to get married, so she concocted five impossible tasks, one for each prince, promising to marry the first of them who brought her what she asked.
the first she demanded, must bring her the Buddha’s stone begging bowl from India, the second had to fetch a jeweled branch from a magical island, the third she tasked with finding the legendary robe of the fire rat from china, while the fourth was to bring her a colored dragon scale, and the fifth and final prince she ordered to bring her a cowries shell born from a swallow’s nest,
the first prince, realizing that his task was impossible went out and purchased a fake bowl hoping to pass it off as the real thing, but when princess kaguya saw it and it did not glow with holy light, she saw through his lie and sent him packing.
The second prince, did present a beautiful jeweled branch but the jig was up when a jeweler showed up asking for payment for the forgery
The third prince thought for sure that he had found the magical robe of the fire rat, but it burned when exposed to fire revealing even to him that it was a fake
The fourth prince gave up on his task after he encountered fierce storms and the final prince fell and was gravely injured in his attempts to climb up to a swallow’s nest. Meanwhile, word of these amazing trials for princess kaguya reached the emperor, and curious to see who would command princess in such a way he went to see her, and of course also fell in love instantly, and though she didn’t subject him to any impossible trials, she rejected his request as well, the emperor accepted this, and instead they became good friends, and pen pals,
That summer, whenever there was a full moon kaguya’s heart filled with longing, and her eyes flooded with tears, and no matter what they tried, her parents could not cheer her up, nor could they figure out what was wrong. Until, one night in a flash, her memories came back to her and she finally remembered the truth, she was not of this world.
now the next part of this tale, where the princess begins to remember her origin story, is a little hazy some say that she was sent down from the moon by divine beings, as a form of punishment to form material attachments only to have them taken away, while others say that there was a great celestial war, and that the people of the moon sent her down to earth to keep her safe, either way the golden jewels that the bamboo cutter had found were a kind of child support sent by her magical moon being guardians as thanks for taking care of her, and the worst thing that princess kaguya remembered was that her people would soon be coming to take her back home, not wanting to leave her adopted parents, she wrote of this to her bff the emperor and he sent many guards to surround her house, and keep her from being taken away, but when the day came and the entourage of heavenly moon beings arrived at her front door, there was little the guards could do, to prevent bloodshed kaguya announced that while she deeply loved her family on earth, she must return home before she left, she wrote two letters to leave behind, one for her parents telling them how much she loved them and one for the emperor saying goodbye
Seeing the princess s sadness the celestial beings offered her an elixir of immortality to help her forget all of the pain, joy, and compassion of the earth. as she drank it, they placed a feathered robe on her shoulders, and she felt all of her mortal attachments begin to slip away, but just before the last of her humanity, was lost forever, she slyly dropped what was left of the immortality elixir in with her letter to the emperor, and then ascended back to her celestial home forever.
when the emperor found kaguya s letter his heart broke, so he asked his servants which mountain was the closest to the moon, and then ordered his armies to take a letter he d written the princess up to the summit, and burn it in hopes that his words might reach her, he also ordered them to destroy the remaining elixir there, for he could not bear the thought of living forever without the woman he loved, and ever since that mountain has been known as the mountain of immortality, or as it said in Japanese mount Fuji.