Momotaro - "Little Peachling"

Once, a long, long time ago, there was an old couple who lived in the woods. They eked out a living by collecting and selling firewood. They had always wanted to have children, but sadly their wish went unfulfilled.

One day, the old man said goodbye to his wife, picked up his axe and his sack, and set off into the forest to collect wood. While he was gone, his wife went down to the stream to wash their clothes. As she was washing, she saw a big, round object floating down the stream. She reached out and pulled it to shore and found that it was a huge peach. She decided, "My husband will love to have this big peach for his dinner!" And so she took it home.

At dark, the old woodcutter arrived home tired and hungry. "Look what I have found for our dinner!," his wife said to him. She grabbed a kitchen knife, but just as she was about to slice off a nice juicy piece of peach for her husband, the peach suddenly split down the middle and a little boy walked out of the pit. The old folks were delighted at last to have a child and they named him "Momotaro," or "Little Peach Boy."

Momotaro grew up strong, loyal, and brave. One day, when he was in his teens, he told his parents, "I'm going to go over to Ogre Island and carry off all the treasure the ogres have stolen from unfortunate travelers. Can you pack me up some nice tasty millet dumplings to take along in case I get hungry?"

His mother quickly packed up a nice sack of millet dumplings and, kissing his parents goodbye, Momotaro set off down the road to steal the ogres' treasure. Along the road, he met a monkey who danced around him asking him all sorts of questions. "Where are you going? What are you going to do there? What's that in your sack?" Momotaro patiently explained that he planned to go to Ogre Island and bring away the ogres' treasure. "I'll go along and help if you give me some of those millet dumplings," the monkey said. And so Momotaro and the monkey walked along munching on the dumplings.

A little further down the road, the two came across a dog. "Hey, where're you two going?," the dog asked. After they explained, the dog said, "I'll come along and help if you share those delicious dumplings with me." So they did, and the three resumed the journey, talking and munching on dumplings. After walking round a bend in the road, they happened upon a beautiful pheasant. "Squawk! Where are you three headed? And what might you be up to?," the bird asked. And so, once again, Momotaro explained the plan. And once again, he shared his dumplings with the pheasant who decided he too would go along and help.

Finally, the four reached Ogre Island. They stood and looked at the castle on the other side of the water, thinking about how they could get in and take the treasure. Finally, they came up with a plan. The pheasant flew across the inlet and hovered over the castle, signaling to the monkey what the ogres were doing. The monkey quickly clambered up the wall and down the other side, unlocking the door and unfastening the chain that held it tight. As soon as the gate was unlocked, Momotaro and the dog ran through and began to attack the ogres. Surprised by the attack, they all ran away in a panic and the four friends caught the Ogre King. He was forced to do homage to Momotaro and brought out all his treasure to turn over to him. Momotaro and the monkey piled all the treasure into a wagon, hooked the dog to the front to pull it, and with the pheasant flying above as a look-out, they set off for home, where they were greeted as heroes. They all lived happily-and wealthily ever after-feasting on millet dumplings and laughing about how they had out-smarted the ogres and taken their treasure.