21 June 2024

The Bamboo Cutter’s Daily Routine

In a small village surrounded by lush forests, there lived an old bamboo cutter named Taketori no Okina. For him, life was simple yet fulfilling. Every morning, he’d wake up at the crack of dawn, grab his sharp cutting tools, and head into the forest. There, amidst the rustling leaves and chirping birds, he spent his days cutting bamboo. These tall, green stalks were not just plants to him; they were his livelihood, the means through which he supported himself.

The Mysterious Bamboo Shoot

One day, while wandering further into the forest than usual, Taketori stumbled upon a bamboo shoot unlike any he had seen before. It was unusually large, its green exterior shimmering slightly as if hiding secrets within. His curiosity piqued; he couldn’t help but wonder what made this bamboo shoot stand out so much from the others. With thoughts swirling in his head, he decided it was worth investigating. He approached it, tools in hand, ready to uncover the mystery.

The Unexpected Find

As he cut into the bamboo shoot, his eyes widened in disbelief. Inside, instead of the expected hollow center, he found a tiny baby girl, no bigger than his own hand. She was sleeping peacefully, wrapped in a radiant light that seemed to emanate from her. Taketori no Okina’s shock quickly turned to awe. He gently lifted her, marveling at this miraculous discovery. This was no ordinary baby; he could feel it in his bones. Somehow, he knew that finding her was going to change his life forever.

The Girl’s Name and Upbringing

After much thought, Taketori no Okina and his wife named the tiny girl Kaguya-hime, meaning Princess of Radiant Night, for her skin glowed with a soft light, just like the moonlight that danced through the bamboo groves. As days turned into months, Kaguya-hime grew not only in size but in kindness and wisdom, far surpassing children of her age. Her adoptive parents, though humble in means, poured all their love and care into her upbringing, treating her as if she were a precious gem. They noticed early on that Kaguya-hime seemed to possess an otherworldly grace, making her stand out even more.

Kaguya-hime’s Unusual Beauty and Abilities

The word of Kaguya-hime’s extraordinary beauty and abilities spread like wildfire, reaching the ears of nobles and samurai far and wide. Her skin was as luminous as the moon on a clear night, and her eyes sparkled with the wisdom of the ages. But it wasn’t just her beauty that captivated everyone; Kaguya-hime displayed talents and intellect that defied explanation. She could weave cloth with hues that mirrored the sky at dawn, and her melodies on the koto enchanted all who heard them. Such was her allure that suitors began to gather, hoping to catch a glimpse of her or, better yet, win her heart.

The Suitors’ Trials

Among the countless admirers, five suitors stood out, each more determined than the last to marry Kaguya-hime. They were not just any men; these were the most noble and brave throughout the land. To test their resolve and worthiness, Kaguya-hime presented each suitor with a seemingly impossible trial. One was tasked with finding a robe made from the fur of the fire rat of China, and another was tasked with retrieving a jeweled branch from the mythical island of Horai. Each challenge was more daunting than the last, involving perilous journeys to distant lands and encounters with creatures of legend.

Despite their bravery and determination, one by one, the suitors faced setbacks and failures. Some returned empty-handed, telling tall tales to cover their inability to complete their tasks. Others never returned at all, lost to the dangers they encountered on their quests. As each suitor failed, it became clear that Kaguya-hime’s heart was not so easily won; her challenges were a testament to her desire to remain unbound by earthly ties.

The Reason for Kaguya-hime’s Departure

Months had rolled into years, and with them, Kaguya-hime grew more melancholic, staring often at the moon with a wistful gaze. Her adoptive parents noted this change, their hearts heavy with worry. Eventually, Kaguya-hime revealed the truth: she wasn’t of this world but belonged to the moon. Her celestial kin had sent her to Earth as a tiny baby for protection and was soon to return for her. The revelation struck her parents like a thunderbolt, their dreams shattering around them. Yet, in her heart, Kaguya-hime ached for the life she’d known with the bamboo cutter and his wife, their kindness having given her a love she could find nowhere else.

Kaguya-hime’s Journey to the Moon

As the fated night arrived, a radiant procession descended from the moon, casting a silver glow over the bamboo grove. Kaguya-hime, clad in robes that shimmered like the stars themselves, turned to her earthly parents, her eyes brimming with tears. “Thank you for every joy, every lesson,” she whispered, her voice barely a murmur against the gentle night breeze. With a final, tender embrace, she stepped away, joining her celestial companions. As they ascended, Kaguya-hime looked down upon the only home she’d ever known, her heart torn between two worlds. Her journey back to the moon was a tapestry of light and shadow, marking the end of her earthly sojourn and the beginning of her eternal watch over the lands and people she’d grown to love.

The Legacy of Kaguya-hime

Kaguya-hime’s tale became a woven part of the fabric that is Japan’s rich tapestry of myths and legends. The bamboo cutter and his wife, though they lived out their days in the shadow of her absence, were never forgotten. Villagers would speak of their kindness and the love they had for the moon princess as if these virtues were magic that could summon happiness from thin air. Stories of Kaguya-hime’s beauty, her grace, and her heartbreaking departure were passed down through generations, inspiring poems, paintings, and songs. Even to this day, when the moon shines bright and full, people remember the tale of a mysterious girl from the heavens, whose life among them left an indelible mark on their hearts and culture.

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