An achievement: Translating “The Peach Boy” (ももたろう/momo tarou)

Yesterday, armed with my Kanji dictionary, my furigana dictionary, my romaji dictionary and my electronic dictionary, I decided to have a go at translating one of the children’s books we bought last time we were in Japan.

We bought ももたろう/momo tarou and 天女のはごろも/tennyo no hagoromo. ももたろう, or Peach Boy, looked like the (slightly) easier option.

Both books are from the 子どもよむ日本の昔ばなし/kodomo yomu nihon no mukashi banashi (Children Read Japanese Folk Tales) series published by Kumon.

Even though the story is very abridged, it took me just over 2 hours to translate it – but I got there! There are a couple of idioms in the story that I couldn’t find translations for in my dictionaries or online, but I’ve got my last Japanese class before the summer holiday on Thursday, so I’m going to ask my teacher.

ももたろう is a traditional Japanese folk tale about a childless old couple who discover a baby boy inside a peach. They raise him as their son and, when he has grown big and strong, he sets off, with some of his mother’s millet dumplings in a bag at his hip, to defeat the 鬼/おに/oni (demons) who are laying Japan to waste. He befriends a green pheasant (きじ), a monkey (さる) and a dog (犬/いぬ) and, together, they fight the 鬼 on their island and defeat them.

As someone who has played Ōkami on the Wii, I had already encountered ももたろう without realising it – but now the dumplings make sense!

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