Are you fond of folktales? Do you like to read adventurous short stories? Well, then here’s a Japanese folktale of the brave and adventurous Momotaro, abridged as a short story for kids in English. This short story of Momotaro brings several amusing creatures to life and takes us to the land of the menacing devils and ogres. So let us see how Momotaro, the son of a peach, emerges victorious on the devils’ island and restores peace in his village.
Once upon a time, there lived an old man with his wife in a village, in Japan. The old couple had a small farm where they cultivated rice. In the morning, the old man used to go up the mountains to cut grass. While he went to the mountains, his wife was busy with the daily household chores and worked in their small field. It was just the two of them as they did not have any children.
The Old Man and His Wife Going for Work
One fine summer morning, as the old man was climbing up the mountain for work, he could feel the breeze gently touching his cheeks. He couldn’t reason why he felt very happy as he moved ahead. His wife, carrying a basket full of soiled clothes, was on her way to the river, to wash them. As she walked on the velvety green grass on the river banks, she saw the soft willows dancing to and fro waving their tassels in the soft breeze. The soft cool breeze brushing through her hair and cheeks somehow made her unusually happy that morning. She chose a nice spot on the river bank and sat down to wash the clothes. She started to rub the clothes against the stones on the river bank, one after another.
As she washing the clothes in the clear blue waters of the river, she saw a tiny fish moving in a strange pattern near the pebbles at the bottom of the river. Soon after she looked up from the clothes to find a peach, quite big in size, flowing in the river. The old woman was surprised by the great size of the peach, and thought to herself that she has never seen such a big peach in her whole life. She stretched her hands out to get it, but it was beyond her reach. She tried to find a broken tree branch or a twig to pull the peach towards her but none was to be found there.
As she kept thinking how to get the peach, she remembered a verse that was believed to do charms. She clapped her hands and sang the verse,
“Distant water is bitter,
The near water is sweet;
Pass by the distant water
And come into the sweet.”
The Old Woman Trying to Get the Peach
The peach drew nearer as she kept singing the verse. Finally, she delighted to get hold of it. The old woman realized that the peach was even bigger than she had fathomed from afar. She was so excited that she put all the clothes in her basket and headed back home with the peach in her hand. As she reached home, she placed the peach in the cupboard and waited for her husband to return from the mountains. At sunset, she could finally see the old man walking slowly down to their home. He had a huge bundle of grass on his back so he used his scythe as a walking stick. On seeing the old man approach home, his wife called out, “O Fii San, I have been waiting for so long today for you to return.”.
Seeing her eagerness, the old man asked his wife the reason of her impatience. She told him that she had brought him a present. She ran inside the house to get the peach and the old man washed off his feet before he stepped up onto the verandah. When the old woman took the peach out from the cupboard, it appeared to be bigger and heavier.
She took it to her husband waiting outside and said, “Look at this peach! Have you ever seen a peach this big in your life?”
The old man looked at it with astonishment and replied, “It is the biggest peach that I have ever seen, my dearest. Where did you get it?” His wife told him the entire story and then they decided to cut the peach and eat it. Right when they were about to cut it, the peach split into two halves, by itself. A serenely beautiful child came out of the peach.
Momotaro Coming Out of the Peach
The child said, “Do not be scared of me. I am not a demon nor am I a fairy. I am the son of your oldage. As you lamented every day and night for not having any child, the heaven has been compassionate and sent me to you.”
The old man and his wife were overwhelmed to see the child and hear what he said. At last their prayers were answered. They had shed tears every morning and every night for being childless. They would get upset by the mere thought of being lonely at their old age. Now, that the heaven had sent them a son, their happiness knew no bounds. They took the little child up in their arms, and decided to name him Momotaro. It means the son of a peach.
The old couple happily raised the child with all they had. The child was also very happy. When Momotaro was fifteen years old, he looked stronger and taller than the other boys of his age in the village. The old man observed him to be wiser for his age. Momotaro had an amazing charm and courage. The old couple found him as brave and handsome as some hero.
One day Momotaro came up to the old man and earnestly said,
“Father, the heaven has strewn us as a father and son. I don’t know how to thank you, as you have loved me so much and your goodness towards me has been deeper than the rivers and higher than the mountain grasses.”
The old man was a little startled, and he told Momotaro that as they raised him with love and goodness, Momotaro would also get the opportunity to take care of them when they would be older. Therefore, they would all be equal, so Momotaro need not thank him.
Momotaro replied, “I hope that you and mother will be patient with me. I have come to you with a request, Father, and I hope you will grant my request as you have given me everything else.”.
He further added, “To the north-east of Japan, there lies an island in the sea. It is the island of devils. They often come and invade our village, kill our people, and take away every piece wealth they can find here. I want to go to the island of these wicked devils, teach them a lesson, and bring back all that he they had taken away from our land. So I request you to let me go there.”.
The old man was taken aback to hear these words of Momotaro. He was surprised at the thoughts of this young boy of fifteen years. As the fearless and strong Momotaro was not a common child, and was sent from the heaven as a gift to the old couple, the old man thought it to be the best to let him go on his way.
The old man said to Momotaro, “I am really surprised with what you say and how determined you are for this journey. I say go as soon as you can, destroy the devils and restore the peace of this village.”.
The old couple prepared some rice cakes for Momotaro to take along on his journey. As they parted, they wished him luck and said that they expected him to return victorious. Momotaro bid them good bye and began his journey to the devils’ island.
Momotaro Leaving for the Devils’ Island
It was nearly midday when Momotaro sat down under a tree by the road to have some rice cakes. A dog as big as a colt emerged from the high grasses behind the road and approched Momotaro. He offered some rice cake to the dog and it sat down by his feet to devour the cake. When Momotaro told the dog about his mission, the dog was willing to accompany him to the devils’ island. So he took him along.
As they walked through the hills and green valleys, they encountered a monkey beneath a tree. The monkey said that it was hungry, so Momotaro gave some of his delicious rice cakes to it. The monkey asked if it could come along with them and help Momotaro on his mission. Momotaro agreed to it and took the monkey along with them.
On their way, they were to cross a large field. As they were walking across the field, a wonderful bird alighted before them. The vibrant pheasant had five colourful robes of feather on its body and a bright scarlet cap. Momotaro was amazed as it was the most beautiful bird he had ever seen. He gave it some of his rice cakes and asked the pheasant if it would come along with them on their mission. The pheasant agreed all at once and from there on Momotaro and his companions headed for the devils’ island.
On their way, they had to cross the great north-eastern sea. When they reached the shore of the sea, Momotaro built a sturdy boat to cross the sea, and they sailed through. As they sailed, wherever they looked, they could only see the waves. The monkey, the dog, and the pheasant soon became amicable to one another and they shared their stories as they sailed through the sea. With the strong wind on their favour, Momotaro and his companions arrived at the devils’ island soon. They could see the devils’ castle.
Momotaro said to the pheasant, “Fly to the castle at once and see what’s there.” The pheasant flew into the castle at once and perched on the top of the castle. There were green ogres and hideous devils roaming about in the castle. As Momotaro tried to break into the castle, the devils gave a tough fight. Yet, Momotaro pressed in along with his companions. Taking down the devils one by one, Momotaro went into the castle and finally met the chief of the devils, Akandoji. There was a tug of war and Momotaro’s army had put up a tough fight. Momotaro had crushed Akandoji down with his mighty blows and tied him up with a rope.
Akandoji and all the devils surrendered and Momotaro collected back all the riches that belonged to his villagers. He sailed back with his companions and the piles of riches were loaded on their boat.
Victorious Momotaro and His Companions
Momotaro’s old parents rejoiced and celebrated his victory. Everyone in the village were happy as the devils were defeated and honoured Momotaro and his companions for it. Momotaro thus became a leading man in the village.
Reading stories is one of the best leisure activities that help to improve one’s vocabulary and language skills. Of the various genres of stories, folktales like Momotaro are quite a favourite among kids. Several other wonderful folktales, fables, fairy tales, and bedtime stories are available on Vedantu. So kids can enjoy reading these English short stories with colourful pictures, and enhance their imagination as well as language skills.
1. Why did the old couple named the child Momotaro?
One day, the old couple received a great peach as a gift from the heaven. The peach had split by itself and a child came out of it. As the meaning of Momotaro is ‘son of a peach’, so they named the little child as Momotaro.
2. Who was Akandoji?
Akandoji was the chief at the devils island. He led all the ogres and devils to invade the village and plundered their goods and riches. Momotaro defeated Akandoji and taught him a lesson for life.