Archive for July 18th, 2009

竹取物語ー「かぐや姫の生い立ち」”Taketori Monogatari” – The Birth of The Shining Princess

Kaguya-Hime Taketori-Monogatari Banner 1
The first of the three chapters of Taketori Monogatari – approximately 1100 years old; believed to be the first Japanese narrative ever written, and an early example of “science fiction” (given that it involves moon-people). I may touch up the translation a bit later, because the English does sound a bit weird in parts, but the meaning’s right ^^.




Taketori Monogatari, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

“The Birth of the Shining Princess”
In a time now long past, there was an old man who was a bamboo cutter. Treading through the plains and mountains cutting bamboo he would use for various things. Sakaki Miyatsuko, was his name. Within the bamboo, there was once one stalk that was shining from its base. Eying it suspiciously and taking a closer look, he found it to be shining from within. Looking inside, there was a “person”  just barely nine centimeters long inside, and of unbelieveable beauty. The old man said, “For this one dwells within the bamboo that I see everyday from morning till dusk I know. She must be the one that should become my child,” and then took her in his hands and returned home. He left her to his wife to raise. There was no limit to this child’s beauty. It being extremely young, they raised her within a box made of bamboo.

When the old bamboo cutter went out to cut bamboo after he had found this child, he found that taking the bamboo and separating the knots, he found gold in the space between, and this would happen many times. Thus, the old man became very wealthy.

As this child was cared for, she grew very quickly. In just three months she had grown to the size of a young woman, and arrangements were made for her coming of age: her hair was put up and she wore the ceremonial dress. No longer did she leave the the house, where she was raised with great care. The child’s beauty was so dazzling that it was otherworldly: there was no place in the house that was dark, as she would fill it will light. Whenever the old man was feeling unwell or in pain, if he looked at her, his pain would melt away, and his anger would also be quelled.