Recently I came across a Tumblr post from rnedicinal about the Japanese folktale of かぐや姫 (Kaguya Hime/Princess Kaguya), which of course provided the basis for Studio Ghibli’s forthcoming film. Other than including two traditional paintings of Kaguya, the poster also shared the actual tale:
かぐや姫 (Princess Kaguya)
Once upon a time, an old man lived by selling bamboo works which he made.
One day, he went to bamboo forest and found a shining bamboo.
“Wow, how curious the bamboo is! Now cut it down.”
Cutting the bamboo, he saw a little girl in it. He and his wife gave her the name “Princess Kaguya” and brought up.
After few years, Princess Kaguya became a beautiful woman. So, many young men came to her and asked, “Please get married with me, Princess Kaguya.”
Five men especially proposed to her strongly.
All of them were great, but she did not want to marry. She annoyed and said, “I’ll be a wife of the man who brings the treasure I want.”
She wanted them each to find the precious things.
Although five men did a big adventure or use hard their brains, no one got the treasures.
The Emperor also heard about Princess Kaguya’s beauty. He hoped, “I want to marry to Princess Kaguya.”
Her parents so pleased, because the Emperor was the best man for her in the world. She would like to express her refusing, but if so, the Emperor might say to kill her.
Since then, she saw moon, crying sadly every night.
Night after night passed, finally her parents asked her why she cried, she said, “The truth is, I am a woman in the moon. Thank you for taking care of me, but I have to go the next night with full moon.”
The Emperor sent thousands of samurais to Princess Kaguya’s house and made them guard her. He would not let her go to the moon.
However, coming to the night and rising moon, suddenly the samurais fell asleep. While they were sleeping, Princess Kaguya went back the moon on the moon world’s wheel.
It is said that her parents and the Emperor were very sad.
I thought I should have a look around the web to see what other interpretations of Kaguya Hime there are (I have tried to indicate sources wherever possible).
Here is one particularly lovely drawing:
These are more modern visions of Kaguya and include some fan art. The first is the princess in the eyes of Tomoji Noda:
A watercolour version, from jurithedreamer:
Redpoppy’s Kaguya, rather mangaesque this time:
…while alextraza’s graduation project cover reverts to a more simple, traditional style:
And a super-kawaii kokeshi doll designed by Sekiguchi Toa:
If you actually want to play, Atlantic db has Kaguya-inspired computer game, with the heroine looking like this (a rather different vision from the ones before!):
Japan being Japan, there is of course a manga, although Shimizu Reiko’s Kaguya Hime series seems only loosely inspired by our bamboo princess and somewhat bloodier than the source tale:
The tale has even been retold on the stage, as a ballet, by the Canadian company Les Grands Ballet:
- It’s November… and「かぐや姫の物語」(Kaguya Hime no Monogatari) Is (Almost) Here
- More of the Kaguya Hime Pretty
- A Glimpse into the Mysterious World of Kaguya Hime
- Ghibli Teaser Trailer Surprise: Kaguya Hime No Monogatari
- Studio Ghibli Updates: Kaze Tachinu, Kaguya Hime and Kokuriko-zaka Kara
- Early Ghibli Kurisumasu Present:「風立ちぬ」+「かぐや姫の物語」for Summer 2013