I'd asked my students to come up with some ghostly tales for me and I got a few good ones (such as Mimi Nashi Houichi = Houichi-the-Earless. ), but one went all out and brought in four gorgeous books of classic Folk Stories. I'd read or heard some of them before, but you probably haven't so here are some highlights for you. First up is かぐや姫, (Kaguya Hime) "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" or "The Moon Princess." It's also known as "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" and it tells the tale of a bamboo cutter who finds a baby girl inside a stalk of bamboo.
It's far too nice a book to bend the spine & scan the whole thing so here is a cute picture showing the birth of Kaguya. Needless to say, the story continues with her growing up to incredibly beautiful, the family wealthy and her being sought by several less than honest suitors. As you can imagine, the ending is a tad sad but what do you expect from a 10th Century Folk Tale?
She also shows up in Sailor Moon (appropriate, no?) and here's another version of her:
The other book in English was the story of 桃太郎 or Momotaro , the Peach-Boy, a young lad who grew up to fight various demons called Oni with the aid of a pheasant, a dog & a monkey! I've read this before and even saw it in a Samurai Jack episode! This version is very beautifully rendered by Ioe Saito. Here are some of the more lovely pages...
In 1911, this song was written.
Momotarō-san no uta (Momotarō's Song) 桃太郎さんの歌
Momotarō-san, momotarō-san (Momotarō, Momotarō) 桃太郎さん、桃太郎さん
Okoshi ni tsuketa kibidango (Those millet dumplings on your waist) お腰につけたきびだんご
Hitotsu watashi ni kudasai na? (Won't you give me one?) 一つ私に下さいな！
Agemashou, agemashou (I'll give you one, I'll give you one) あげましょう、あげましょう
Ima kara oni no seibatsu ni (From now, on a quest to conquer the ogres) 今から鬼の征伐に
Tsuite kuru nara agemashou (If you come with me, I'll give one to you) ついてくるならあげましょう
She also brought in two books in Japanese,
舌切り雀 (Shita Kiri Suzume), translated literally into "Tongue-Cut Sparrow". It is your average story of: Man befriends Bird; Wife cuts out Bird's tongue; Man befriends Sparrow-people; Sparrow-people give him a box of goodies; Wife is p-offed because he got a small box and goes back for a bigger box; Sparrow-people give her the bigger box which happens to be a Pandora package full of demons.
The last story is a Tom Thumbish tale about 一寸法師 (Issun Boshi or Little One Inch) , a wee lad who beet up two oni and then grew tall thanks to a magic hammer. (Click this link, Issun Boushi for a version of the tale & some others)
Btw, Mukashi, Mukashi is the equivalent of Once Upon a Time...Here are a few other of the books you can find in Japanese or English: