Select the desired text size
Momotaro the son of a peach.
Start of Story
Long, long ago there lived, an old man and an old woman; they were
peasants, and had to work hard to earn their daily rice. The old man
used to go and cut grass for the farmers around, and while he was gone
the old woman, his wife, did the work of the house and worked in their
own little rice field.
One day the old man went to the hills as usual to cut grass and the old
woman took some clothes to the river to wash.
It was nearly summer, and the country was very beautiful to see in its
fresh greenness as the two old people went on their way to work. The
grass on the banks of the river looked like emerald velvet, and the
pussy willows along the edge of the water were shaking out their soft
The breezes blew and ruffled the smooth surface of the water into
wavelets, and passing on touched the cheeks of the old couple who, for
some reason they could not explain, felt very happy that morning.
The old woman at last found a nice spot by the river bank and put her
basket down. Then she set to work to wash the clothes; she took them
one by one out of the basket and washed them in the river and rubbed
them on the stones. The water was as clear as crystal, and she could
see the tiny fish swimming to and fro, and the pebbles at the bottom.
As she was busy washing her clothes a great peach came bumping down the
stream. The old woman looked up from her work and saw this large peach.
She was sixty years of age, yet in all her life she had never seen such
a big peach as this.
"How delicious that peach must be!" she said to herself. "I must
certainly get it and take it home to my old man."
She stretched out her arm to try and get it, but it was quite out of
her reach. She looked about for a stick, but there was not one to be
seen, and if she went to look for one she would lose the peach.
Stopping a moment to think what she would do, she remembered an old
charm-verse. Now she began to clap her hands to keep time to the
rolling of the peach down stream, and while she clapped she sang this
"Distant water is bitter,
The near water is sweet;
Pass by the distant water
And come into the sweet."
Strange to say, as soon as she began to repeat this little song the
peach began to come nearer and nearer the bank where the old woman was
standing, till at last it stopped just in front of her so that she was
able to take it up in her hands. The old woman was delighted. She could
not go on with her work, so happy and excited was she, so she put all
the clothes back in her bamboo basket, and with the basket on her back
and the peach in her hand she
It seemed a very long time to her to wait till her husband returned.
The old man at last came back as the sun was setting, with a big bundle
of grass on his back--so big that he was almost hidden and she could
hardly see him. He seemed very tired and used the scythe for a walking
stick, leaning on it as he walked along.
As soon as the old woman saw him she called out:
"O Fii San! (old man) I have been waiting for you to come home for such
a long time to-day!"
"What is the matter? Why are you so impatient?" asked the old man,
wondering at her unusual eagerness. "Has anything happened while I have
"Oh, no!" answered the old woman, "nothing has happened, only I have
found a nice present for you!"
"That is good," said the old man. He then washed his feet in a basin of
water and stepped up to the veranda.
The old woman now ran into the little room and brought out from the
cupboard the big peach. It felt even heavier than before. She held it
up to him, saying:
"Just look at this! Did you ever see such a large peach in all your
When the old man looked at the peach he was greatly astonished and said:
"This is indeed the largest peach I have ever seen! Wherever did you
"I did not buy it," answered the old woman. "I found it in the river
where I was washing." And she told him the whole story.
"I am very glad that you have found it. Let us eat it now, for I am
hungry," said the O Fii San.
He brought out the kitchen knife, and, placing the peach on a board,
was about to cut it when, wonderful to tell, the peach split in two of
itself and a clear voice said:
"Wait a bit, old man!" and out stepped a beautiful little child.
The old man and his wife were both so astonished at what they saw that
they fell to the ground. The child spoke again:
"Don't be afraid. I am no demon or fairy. I will tell you the truth.
Heaven has had compassion on you. Every day and every night you have
lamented that you had no child. Your cry has been heard and I am sent
to be the son of your old age!"
On hearing this the old man and his wife were very happy. They had
cried night and day for sorrow at having no child to help them in their
lonely old age, and now that their prayer was answered they were so
lost with joy that they did not know where to put their hands or their
feet. First the old man took the child up in his arms, and then the old
woman did the same; and they named him MOMOTARO, OR SON OF A PEACH,
because he had come out of a peach.