THE BAMBOO-CUTTER AND THE MOON-CHILD
|Long long ago their lived a
very poor, old, childless bamboo cutter called Taketori no Okina,
meaning "The Old Man who Harvests Bamboo". One day while walking in the
bamboo forest, as he normally did, to collect bamboo which he used to
make a small livelihood for himself and his wife. He came across a
mysterious, shining stalk of bamboo. After cutting it open, he found
inside it an infant the size of his thumb.
He rejoiced to find such a
beautiful girl, and thought to himself that she had been a gift sent to
him and his wife as they had no children, so he tooher home.
He and his wife raised her as their own child and named her Nayotake-no-Kaguya-hime
meaning "princess of flexible bamboos scattering light" since he
had found her in shinning stalk of bamboo.
The tiny exceedingly beautiful girl was so and so small, that the old
woman put her into a basket to
safeguard her from the least possibility of being hurt in any way.Thereafter,
Taketori no Okina found that whenever he cut down a stalk of bamboo, inside would be a small
nugget of gold. Soon he became rich.
Kaguya-hime grew from a small baby into a woman of ordinary size and extraordinary beauty. At first, Taketori no Okina tried to keep her away from outsiders, but over time the news of her beauty spread. Eventually, five princes came to Taketori no Okina's residence to ask for Kaguya-hime's hand in marriage. The princes eventually persuaded Taketori no Okina to tell a reluctant Kaguya-hime to choose from among them. Kaguya-hime concocted impossible tasks for the princes, agreeing to marry the one who managed to bring her the specified item. That night, Taketori no Okina told the five princes what each must bring. The first was told to bring her the stone begging bowl of the Buddha from Nepal, the second a jeweled branch from the mythical island of HÅrai, the third the legendary robe of the fire-rat of China, the fourth a colored jewel from a dragon's neck, and the final prince a cowry shell born of swallows.
Realizing that it was an impossible task, the first prince sent word to the Princess that he was starting out that day on the quest of Buddhas bowl, and he hoped soon to bring it to her. But he had not the courage to go all the way to India, for in those days traveling was very difficult and full of danger, so he went to one of the temples in Kyoto and took a stone bowl from the altar there, paying the priest a large sum of money for it. He then wrapped it in a cloth of gold and, waiting quietly for three years, returned and carried it to the old man. Kaguya-hime saw through his deception after noticing that the bowl did not glow with holy light. Likewise, two other princes attempted to deceive her with fakes, but also failed. The fourth gave up after encountering a storm, while the final prince lost his life (severely injured in some versions) in his attempt.
this, the Emperor of Japan, Mikado, came to see the strangely beautiful Kaguya-hime and, upon seeing her and falling in love, asked her to marry
him. Although he was not subjected to the impossible trials that had
thwarted the princes, Kaguya-hime rejected his request for marriage as
well, telling him that she was not of his country and if she was forced
to go to the Palace in obedience to the Emperorâ€™s order, she would
vanish from the earth. She stayed in contact with the Emperor, but
continued to rebuff his requests and marriage proposals.
That summer, whenever Kaguya-hime saw the full moon, her eyes filled with tears. Though her adoptive parents worried greatly and questioned her, she was unable to tell them what was wrong. Her behavior became increasingly erratic until she revealed that she was not of this world and must return to her people on the Moon. In some versions of this tale, it is said that she was sent to the Earth, where she would inevitably form material attachment, as a temporary punishment for some crime, while in others, she was sent to Earth for her own safety during a celestial war.
The gold that Taketori no Okina had been finding had in fact been a stipend from the people of the Moon, sent down to pay for Kaguya-hime's upkeep. Kaguya-hime goes back to the Moon As the day of her return approached, the Emperor sent many guards around her house to protect her from the Moon people, but when an embassy of "Heavenly Beings" arrived at the door of Taketori no Okina's house, the guards were blinded by a strange light. Kaguya-hime announced that, though she loved her many friends on Earth, she must return with the Moon people to her true home. She wrote sad notes of apology to her parents and to the Emperor, then gave her parents her own robe as a memento. She then took a small taste of the elixir of life, attached it to her letter to the Emperor, and gave it to a guard officer. As she handed it to him, the feather robe was placed on her shoulders, and all of her sadness and compassion for the people of the Earth were forgotten. The heavenly entourage took Kaguya-hime back to Tsuki-no-Miyako ("the Capital of the Moon"), leaving her earthly foster parents in tears. The receding Princess The parents became very sad and were soon put to bed sick. The officer returned to the Emperor with the items Kaguya-hime had given him as her last mortal act, and reported what had happened. The Emperor read her letter and was overcome with sadness. He asked his servants, "Which mountain is the closest place to Heaven?", to which one replied the Great Mountain of Suruga Province. The Emperor ordered his men to take the letter to the summit of the mountain and burn it, in the hope that his message would reach the distant princess. The men were also commanded to burn the elixir of immortality since the Emperor did not wish to live forever without being able to see her. The legend has it that the word immortality (fushi?, or fuji) became the name of the mountain, Mount Fuji. It is also said that the kanji for the mountain, (literally "Mountain Abounding with Warriors"), are derived from the Emperor's army ascending the slopes of the mountain to carry out his order. It is said that the smoke from the burning still rises to this day. (In the past, Mount Fuji was much more volcanically active.)
Wikipidia: The Tale of The Bamboo Cutter
Lit2go : The Bamboo-Cutter and the Moon-Child
Mission.net : Kaguya Hime The Moon Princess