Taketori Monogatari

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  • Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
  • Japanese:竹取物語(Taketori Monogatari)

Taketori Monogatari is probably the oldest surviving narrative tale in Japan. There are references to it in Heian literature, so it was probably written in the early Heian Period.


An old bamboo cutter finds a beautiful baby girl in a glowing bamboo. He and his wife bring her up as their daughter, giving her the name Kaguya-hime (赫映姫; lit. "Brilliantly Reflecting [kagayaku utsuru] Princess"). As reports of her beauty spread, five noble suiters seek her hand, but she gives them difficult tasks, which they are unable to fulfill. She rejects even the emperor's suit.

Finally she tells her parents that she is really from the moon, and the heavenly people will be coming to get her on the full moon of the 8th month. The glorious company comes as expected, and even the warriors the emperor sent to prevent them can make no move (see illustration). Kaguya-hime goes away with them into the sky.

Taketori Monogatari Emaki Kôjien Dictionary