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popular japan folklore

Updated on November 2, 2012

The Country with rich culture

Japan as one of the country in Asia which own a diversity of culture which is interesting to be known. as a country that has a long history, it is not apart from folk tales which formed during the long trip of japan history. and here are some of the most famous japan folklore.

Urashima taro
Urashima taro

1. Urashima Taro

A fisherman named Urashima Taro help a turtle which is being tortured by children. As a gratitude for his help, the turtle invite Taro to the Sea Palace. By riding the turtle, Taro went to the Palace that is in the sea floor.

There, Taro met beautiful princess named Princess Oto. just like in a dream, Taro is accompanied by Princess Oto for a few days. Until he finally want to go home. Princess Oto prevent Taro, but she knew her efforts would be futile. Princess Oto gave him a box of jewelry (tamatebako), and ordered do not open the box. By riding a turtle, Taro arrived back in his hometown. But all those who he knew no longer exists. Taro wonder, then he opened the gift from Princess Oto. Smoke came out of the box, and Taro instantly transformed into a very old man.

According to the calculation of time in the ocean, Taro only stayed for a few days. But according to the time on the land, Taro is away for 700 years.

Photo used under Creative Commons from

Urashima Taro on Youtube


2. Momotaro

long ago, there lived a grandfather and grandmother who did not have children. oneday When grandma was washing in the river, a huge peach washed away from upstream. The peach was brought back to the house to eat with her husband. She cut the peach, but from the inside came out a boy.

they named The boy Momotaro, and they raised him like a son. Momotaro grew up as a strong and powerful child and expressed his intention to kill a giant ogre. At that time the village was in frequent trouble by the giants. Momotaro set out to kill the giant by having kibidango cake as his lunch. On the way up to the giant island, Momotaro in sequence met with dog, monkey, and pheasant.

After receiving a cake from Momotaro the, dog, monkey, and pheasant willing to be as his followers. In the giant island, Momotaro fight against a giant with the help of the dog, monkey, and pheasant. Momotaro won and came home with a giant's treasure.

Photo used under Creative Commons from

Momotaro on Youtube

Kintaro Tale
Kintaro Tale

3. Kintaro

Kintaro is a Japanese folk tale, which depicts a boy who has a very strong power. He was identified as a healthy boy who dressed in a red-colored vest displaying gold kanji letters. Within his hands, Kintaro brought an axe (Masakari) placed down right on his shoulder. He also sometimes portrayed riding a bear.

Kintaro stories related with the celebration of the Boy's day in Japan. Kitaro dolls are on display to celebrate Boy's Day. Parents which present Kintaro doll wished their son grow up healthy, independent, and brave as Kintaro. Additionally, Kintaro is usually portrayed riding a koi fish on koinobori.

Kintaro story theoretically comes from a childhood tale of a samurai known as Sakata Kintoki from the Heian time period. Based on story, his mommy was a Yama-uba who became pregnant as a consequence from The God of thunder Raijin. A different tale states, his mommy gave birth to a baby Kintaro as a consequence of her romantic relationship with a red dragon.

Photo used under Creative Commons from

Issun Boshi
Issun Boshi

4. Issun Boshi

The legend told there is a couple who are old, but have not had a child, so they asked to the Sumiyoshi no for a child. and then their request was granted, and then a child was born with the size only one sun (about 3 cm). the child was not able to grow large, so named Issun Boshi which means "one sun priest"

one day, Issun Boshi wanted to be a samurai. then he went to kyoto he brought his sword in the form of a needle, and a boat made of wooden bowl with paddle form of chopsticks. when he arrived in kyoto, he was accepted to work at the home of the rich who own a large and luxurious resident. one day the daughter of the owner wanted to go to a temple, but on the half way through she was abducted by Oni (demon). Issun Boshi and then fighting with the Oni to protect the princess, because his body is so small, the Oni swallowed Issun at one blow. once inside the stomach Issun stabbed the oni belly repeatedly so that the Oni gave up and throw up back Issun.

afterwards the oni fled to the mountains, leaving a magical hammer called Uchide no Kozuchi that can grant any wish and can give money when swung. Issun Boshi use a hammer to grant his request to change his body into adult size. then Issun marry the princess and live happily and wealthy.

Image from

Issun Boshi on Youtube

do you like japan folklore?

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    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I enjoyed the stories.