Taketori Monogatari review: story of a bamboo cutter

Considered to be the oldest Japanese folk tale, Taketori Monogatari has inspired several adaptations, faithful or not. Let’s go, therefore, to see together the true story of Princess Kaguya with this review by Taketori Monogatari.

TITLE: Taketori Monogatari AUTHOR: Unknown KIND: Great, fairy tale PUBLISHING HOUSE: Marsilio Editori YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1998

Have you ever wondered the origin of some myths or legends? Do those surreal episodes of our favorite anime that tell seemingly inexplicable stories actually make sense? Of course yes! Come and discover one, with this review by Taketori Monogatari, or rather, The story of the shining princess.

The plot | Taketori Monogatari Review

One night, an elderly bamboo cutter finds an old bamboo cane while wandering through the woods shining. Intrigued, he approaches and notices, inside, a little girl the size of a thumb. Not having been able to have children, the old man takes her home to his wife, deciding to look after her as if she were their daughter. They called her Kaguyahime, or shining princess.

Kaguyahime grows out of all proportion, becoming more and more beautiful and attracting the attention of princes and officials. Only five are distinguished but the princess, having no intention of getting married, offers them impossible challenges: she asks Prince Ishitsukuri to go to India to retrieve a sacred bowl and at that time undertaking long journeys meant risking one’s life. For this reason, the prince, sure to marry Kaguya, pays a priest to give him his cup. Deception soon revealed. All attempts are in vain, as they are impossible to reach. Having heard of the beauty extraordinary of Kaguya, the emperor himself decides to visit her, falling in love with her and deciding to promote the elderly bamboo cutter to high rank. Not even this, however, convinces the princess to accept.

Three years after the end of these requests, she appears more and more sad and melancholy and thus decides to reveal her nature: she comes from luna and awaits the arrival of two celestial beings that they bring her home, which is why she could not accept the emperor’s courtship.

From myth to pop culture | Taketori Monogatari Review

Taketori Monogatari, literally The tale of a bamboo cutter, dates back to 10th century. The author is still unknown, although some stylistic elements lead to the fact that he had contact with the court of the time. According to the story the name of that mountain, Fuji, comes from the word “immortality“While the kanji, which literally mean”mountain full of warriors”, Refer to the ascent of the army that accompanied the emperor. Furthermore, the smoke in the top of the mountain, according to legend, it would come from the elixir that is still burning today.

As we said at the beginning of this article, the transpositions and adaptations are numerous but not all of them very much faithful. Over the years, history has lost some characteristics to become what everyone knows today, thanks to “The story of the shining princess “ of Isao Takahata by the Studio Ghibli.

Despite this, the soul of the story remained intact. Folk tales tell us about us, about our soul. They adapt to the society in which they are narrated, contextualizing themselves.

This story is a representation symbolic of oriental optics on materialism, on banality of pleasure and on the diversity of beauty and beauty itself.

Precisely for this universality, this story has come down to us and, even now, it strikes the ears of a modern society that is very different from the one told there.

Points in favor

  • A profound story, capable of touching the soul of the reader.
  • Human and universal.