Momotaro, the Peach Boy (a cute tale used for propaganda?) | Japanese Folktales
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Momotaro, the Peach Boy (a cute tale used for propaganda?) | Japanese Folktales


This video is sponsored by
The Great Courses Plus. Today on Folktales for Procrastinators, I
will tell you the story of Momotaro (桃太郎), or Peach Boy. This is a very well-known story. And afterwards we’ll discover how this cute
children’s story was used as World War II propaganda. There was an old couple who really wanted
children but the gods had ignored their prayers. One day, the old lady was washing clothes
in a washing machine called a river when she noticed a butt floating down the stream. When it got closer, she realized that it wasn’t
a butt, it was this gigantic peach. It’s weird for a peach to be that big, she
thought. Do gigantic peaches taste sweet? Will she get to the bottom of this question? You bet your ass she will. And so she cracked her fingers, ready to bring
this mystery to an ample end. The old woman eagerly snatched that peach
up and brought it home to her husband. “This is a huge peach!” She said. “Uh huh.” Her husband said. When they cut the peach open, to their surprise,
that’s right they found a sweet little baby boy. Why did the peach have a baby? It had an encounter with an eggplant. The old couple was ecstatic and thanked the
gods for granting them a child after all. They named him Momotaro, or Peach Boy, condemning
him to a childhood of verbal bullying. But maybe the rough childhood did some good
because he grew up to be freakishly strong. Momotaro was very grateful that his parents
took him in and wanted to repay their kindness. It just so happened that there was an island
that people called Oni-ga-shima (鬼ヶ島), Demon Island, home to demons who did wicked
things like kidnapping, murder, and opening nachos bags in the middle of a movie. Empty the bag before the movie! Momotaro dreamt that he would be the one to
go to the island to subdue the demons and save the people of Folktale Japan from their
scourge. He trained day and night with a sword and
one morning declared to his parents, “I have heard of the wicked monsters
on Demon Island, and I will go there and vanquish them! But first please make me some dumplings for
the trip.” His parents were horrified, but Momotaro reasoned
that the gods had brought him to this world from a peach, he was destined for something
great. His mom reluctantly agreed and his dad said
“Uh huh,” and so they allowed him to go on his adventure where he could get hurt and
die. But he had to finish his homework first. They were Asian parents after all. They packed him a box of dumplings, said tearful
goodbyes, and Momotaro embarked on his quest. “Don’t forget to wear your sweater,”
his mom called out. “I’m not a kid, mom!” said the kid. Momotaro marched with peachy confidence towards
Demon Island. On the way, he met a dog. The dog said, “Momotaro, Momotaro,
where are you going?” Yes, it was a dog, speaking to him. Momotaro was surprised, how does a dog…
know his name? Very weird. “I am going to Demon Island to conquer the
demons there,” Momotaro said. “What is that you have by your side?” The dog asked. “These are the best dumplings in Japan.” “I will join your quest if you give me a
dumpling.” Momotaro thought about it, and gave the dog
a dumpling. After eating the best dumplings in Japan,
the dog followed him on his quest. As they walked, they met a monkey. The monkey said, “Momotaro, Momotaro,
where are you going?” “I am going to Demon Island to conquer the
demons there,” Momotaro said. “What is that you have by your side?” “These are the best dumplings in Japan.” “I will join your quest if you give me a
dumpling.” Momotaro gave the monkey a dumpling, and the
monkey followed him. As they walked, they met a pheasant. Same deal. The Fellowship of the Peach reached the coast
and they could see Demon Island in the distance. A boat bobbed in the waters far away. They needed it to cross, so the dog swam over
with monkey on his back, and the pheasant flew over. And they all brought the boat back. Dog pulled the rope, monkey paddled, and pheasant
be useless. On Demon Island, the iron gate to the demon
palace was closed, but that didn’t stop them. The pheasant flew up for reconnaissance. The monkey climbed the wall, got inside, and
opened the gate. Momotaro unsheathed his sword, the dog unsheathed
his teeth, and they charged. The surprised demons were ugly and had a language
that no one could understand. Everyone fought bravely, but then Momotaro
saw the biggest demon he had ever seen. Granted he had never seen demons before this. It was the demon leader. Momotaro attacked the leader, using all of
his monstrous might. It was a fierce battle, but Momotaro defeated
the demon boss. Afterwards, the demons bowed in submission
and begged Momotaro to spare their lives. They would never commit crimes against humans
again. Momotaro gave them mercy, and in turn they
gave him treasures. He marched home with his animal friends and
a wagon full of treasure. The dog pulled the wagon, the monkey pushed,
and the pheasant be useless. Momotaro’s parents were overjoyed, and now
rich. Alright so this was a straightforward, warm
and fuzzy tale of a child hero. It’s hard to find a Japanese person who
doesn’t know of this tale. But did you know that the story was used for
wartime propaganda? The earliest written version of Momotaro appeared
in the Edo Period, but it was in the Meiji Period that the story was put into school
textbooks. It was a time when the Japanese empire went
about being bloody irritating to everyone around them. The story was used as part of wartime education
to instill patriotism in the youth. During World War II, Momotaro became an iconic
figure in wartime movies. It wasn’t subtle, the symbolism. Momotaro was the Japanese government. The animal companions were Japanese citizens. The demons were the United States. And many people saw Demon Island as Pearl
Harbor or Hawaii. The message was that Japan could defeat the
strong and evil United States, if citizens supported the effort. And Momotaro’s treasures represented the
riches that Japan would gain after the victory. You can actually find in Japan’s history
a pattern of stories with similar events. For example, Japan’s earliest texts wrote
of Yamato Takeru, a mythical figure who was super strong at a young age and went to the
frontier to subjugate barbarian tribes. Minamoto no Tametomo lived in the late Heian
Period. Legend has it that he went to a Demon Island,
where the people looked horrifying and spoke an incomprehensible language, and he subjugated
them. Which island it was differed depending on
the version of the story. It could have been the Izu Islands or Okinawa. The point of using the Momotaro story in textbooks
and propaganda films was to tie wartime patriotism with the myths and legends of the past. It was Japan’s destiny to subjugate the
demons, and the wars continued that old tradition. But you know what, there’s nothing wrong
with ignoring all of that and just enjoying the story for what it is, a cozy tale about
a kid who worked hard to achieve his dream, of slaying demons. And like Momotaro, you too can achieve your
dreams. But you gotta learn stuff first. That’s why I recommend checking out The
Great Courses Plus. I don’t do a lot of sponsorships you guys,
but I really like this one. It’s an on-demand video learning service
where you can watch lectures and courses online taught by actual top professors and experts
instead of just some dummy like me. You can watch anything in their library of
more than 11,000 lectures in all kinds of categories like history, science, cooking,
whatever. Right now I’m going through a course called
Understanding Japan: A Cultural History and it’s awesome. He goes through historical events from the
beginning to modern day and how they affected the culture of Japan, and he has some fascinating
insights on Japanese thought. A perfect fit for you guys I think. And you can watch it for free right now, just
go to TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/Linfamy. Click on the link in the description below
to start your free trial today, using that link also helps the channel because it entices
the Great Courses peeps to work with me again. Alrighty, I wanna thank the new patrons this
week, Buttonwife, Mara Theran Charlize Theron’s doppleganger, Elisa J Parent, and Kat. Much love, you guys, and spread the knowledge!

About Ralph Robinson

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100 thoughts on “Momotaro, the Peach Boy (a cute tale used for propaganda?) | Japanese Folktales

  1. Sorry for the voice acting 😅

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  2. I love the tale of momotaro. I know anime is not the same, but kuro momotaro from yu yu hakusho is up there with character concept.😊 thanks for the video, im sorry i cant donate. But im getting better at liking every video👍

  3. Great courses is okay but full of left leaning teachers, especially in the philosophy of science area. Good to know you have a sponsor now.

  4. Sad. Turning such a cute adventure story into military propaganda. I’m really loving the common theme in Japanese folktales of babies being born from plants. Its so cute and surreal.

  5. Unsupervised child embarks on a journey to achieve his dream, acquiring animal companions along the way.. Hrm, where have I heard that before?

  6. I heard this story first by this song
    https://youtu.be/6L_SCstySIo

    I've been waiting for you to make a video about this tale. Greetings from Finland.

  7. we all knew that Japanese pornography has some weird methods and standards compared with rest of the planet, we also know that they love to draw the world map with pacific ocean in the center, unlike rest of us who place Africa in the center, but as an outsider… with all of these fruit baby stories, i'm starting to get the idea that people of japan at least in earlier times had developed some weird emotional relationship with their crops… i mean… we also have one nuts baby story about a chickpea that served as a momotaro equivalent to his " old parents" and accomplish a story of the same sort, no animal companions on his tale but few more chickpea volunteers (?! seems like it was some sort of regular thing in the vicinity of the story's happenstance by the time of that one… maybe some radioactive asteroid or something had landed near that village, considering the amount of super human power a bunch of chickpeas are asserting over fiends few thousands times their size and unnatural ferocity and violence they show, we are talking about reaping their heads off with bare hands and tearing their guts open by their teeth kind of stuff here… pretty violent bunch of mutated chickpeas they were, but hey the history is written by the victor so… details) but that's the only one, rest of them hero kids are fairy born, Djin born, fiend born, high born, low born, unborn and all other sorts of crazy shit but that's the point, the variety, the consistency of fruit babies in Japanese folktales is worrisome to some extent… don't you think…

  8. They cut the peach open ? Holy s!

    Dark bad humor below sorry!

    Old man : Honey I accidentally stab a kid again .
    Old lady : oh dear ! Was it the water melon ?
    Old man : no a peach !.
    Old lady: damn you, But fruit!!!.

    Edited due to mobile typos sorry.

  9. Dude the Dad's dialogues are really great . In a live action remake a top class actor should play him .

  10. I just opened a tomato and a baby girl with fire powers was inside . I will keep her . I will call her hottie and marry her into the imperial family so I would become rich .

  11. My mom used to make me go to Japanese school every Saturday and I remember having to do this play lol Good times. Your storytelling was definitely a lot more entertaining than our play 🙂

  12. Even without the war context :
    This is a story about a boy buying peoples support, to murder,subjugate and steal from Weird people he can't understand

  13. This video should talk about "Kibitsuhiko".

    Kibitsuhiko is believed to be Momotaro's model in Japan.

    He subjugated the barbarians by order of the ancient Emperor Sujin.

    As an interesting episode, there are rumors that the ancestor of the 29th Prime Minister of Japan, Inukai Tsuyoshi, is "a dog" that followed Momotaro in this video.

    His family name, Inukai, means "dog owner" and his ancestor was one of Kibitshiko's followers.

  14. But is there a burger boy? One day an old man was taking a walk and saw a giant burger, he took a bite and saw a hand and boom a baby and then the man left in horror scarred forever and never dared to eat a burger again

  15. 5:25 I'm going to guess how this was used as propaganda. My first thought was that people in Japan were told to think of people from other countries as the demons, but that's too straight forward. My actual guess is that they said something to the effect of "to surrender would make us like the demons, and we are not demons."

  16. Btw this video was uploaded on the independence day of Indonesia .
    I know nobody asked but i need something to comment about ok :V

    Also Why Do Babies from Folktales are always born from fruit and plants?

  17. Japanese kid: “Daddy, where do babies come from?”

    Japanese man: “Plants. All sorts of plants! Bamboo, melons and peaches oh my!”

  18. I'm very glad we got past the mess of WWII to gain a friendship that allows us to trade culture and goods. I like to think we as citizens of two countries go beyond politics to forge great relationships.

    Thank you for these delightful stories!

  19. And then Momotaro and his gang created the Navy and hunted down pirates till the time skip….You see what I did there?

  20. Excellent video Linfamy also I’m glad you chose Momotaro and Kaguya Hime to be couple rather than having to be with Urikohime also In my story Momotaro fought many Yokai like Kappa, Kotengu, Nure Onna, Jorogumo, Mōryō, Mikoshi Nyudo, Rokurokubi, Jikininki, Umi Buzo, Ouni, Furutsubaki no Rei, Keneō, Datsueba, and a Hari Ogana. Pretty cool don’t you think also his son Munehiro fought Kuchisake Onna.

  21. Well to be fair Donald Duck fought in every theater of WW2 as a part of every American armed service while also somehow being a fanatical factory worker in Germany making shells for his beloved fuhrer so I'm not going to drop a monocle in horror that the Japanese used their own cultural icons for their own propaganda during the war. Whole war with Japan could have been avoided anyway if we'd just kept selling them petroleum and minded our own business.

  22. Have a great loving and wonderful day my youtube friends!
    Just a small youtuber 🙂 trying to make positive videos and trying to gain subscribers .

  23. When I visited monastries in bhutan and India I found sculptures of a monkey sitting above a dog and a bird above is this stating about the same concept pls reply actually I have seen it many times but ifk the meaning

  24. Please do the following Japanese folktales for future Japanese Folktales episodes next:

    Banchō Sarayashiki (The Dish Mansion at Banchō)

    Yuki-onna (The Snow Woman)

    Tsurara-onna (The Icicle Woman)

    The Princess Peony

    Willow Wife

    The Spring Lover and the Autumn Lover

    Flower of the Peony

    The Star Lovers

    The Mirror of Matsuyama

    The Story of Princess Hase
    Issun-bōshi (One Inch Boy)
    Prince Yamato Take

  25. Momotaro's old tale has a hidden and interesting history. Why are Momotaro's followers dogs, monkeys and pheasants? It is related to ancient Japanese thought, Onmyoudo(Yin Yang Road.)Onmyoudo thought that the direction of the northeast was the entrance of the demon. It's called Kimon. It is also called the direction of Ushitora. UShi is a cow. Tora is a tiger.
    Therefore, Japanese demons Oni have cow-like horns and wear tiger fur pants. And on the Onmyoudo , there are dogs, monkeys and birds in the opposite direction of Ushitora. Therefore, Momotaro used dogs, monkeys, and pheasants as servants to seal off the demons.Incidentally, peaches were also considered sacred fruits in ancient China.

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