When my son was little, I would check out Japanese fairy tales (in English) from the library and read them to him. I was fascinated by these stories that I had never heard before, and are not famous in the United States. Douwa (童話) is the Japanese word for fairy tale, and Japanese tales are definitely worth looking into!
So…..when I see these senbei for small children at the supermarket, I always want to buy them! They are so cute. And educational. Each little packet has an illustration from a famous Japanese tale. Do you know what these stories all are? Try to see if you know what they are. Answers at the very bottom of the post.
e. (Hint: The person in the pink kimono is NOT a girl. He is male. )
a. Momotaro! The story of a little boy who was born from a peach. He teams up with various animals to fight oni. This is definitely the most famous Japanese fairy tale, but it is not my personal favorite.
b. Kaguya Hime (Princess Kaguya) If you saw the Ghibli movie, you know the story. Unlike me, who fell asleep during the movie. Jet lag does that to you.
c. Shita Kiri Suzume (The Cut Tongue Sparrow) I always found this story about a bird that gets its tongue cut out slightly violent. Although no more I guess than western fairy tales.
d. Urashima Taro This is definitely one of my favorites. Urashima Taro is lured under the sea……a little like I was lured into Japan? Only to return and discover—- Well, read the story to find out.
e. Ushiwakamaru This one I was totally 100% unfamiliar with, and thus have had to do some research. It turns out it is not a fairy tale per se, but rather a legend based on an actual person. Yoshitsune was a samurai also known as Ushiwakamaru. He had a duel with a monk named Benkei. He defeated Benkei who was so impressed he became Ushiwakamaru’s right hand man.