23 May 2014
Ancient Japan in Today’s Modern World
Many people today have common practices that are shared on a national level. Many of the citizens living in the United States have placed their teeth under their pillow in hopes that the Tooth Fairy will come and leave a tiny reward for the outgrowing of their baby teeth. When someone near us sneezes, we will instinctively say “bless you”. These traditions, along with many others, fall under folk rituals. Folk rituals are just a small category in the huge topic that is folklore. Folklore consists of many cultural, religious, and ethnical traditions, art, and stories. The Japanese, however, have by far the most interesting folklore, in my opinion. Japanese folklore consists of many folktales, interesting pieces of art, and crazy rituals. Let’s begin with one of their many stories.
We will begin with the folk story, Chikaratarou, which translates to Power Boy. The story opens with a rather old couple who doesn’t like to bathe. The couple hated bathing so much; they did not clean themselves for a year. Yes, you read that right, they did not bathe for an entire year. As one can imagine, they were walking piles of dirt. In fact, so much dirt fell off of them, they had enough to make a doll out of dirt, because why not. They named their doll Akatarou, and raised him as a child. Through the power of folk tale magic, Akatarou becomes a real boy.
Naturally, one of the burdens of children is making sure they are well fed. So they would feed their dirt boy bowls of rice. With each bowl he ate, he grew, eventually reaching 6 feet tall. He asked his father for an 800 pound iron rod to use as a walking stick. His father then goes to the local black smith to pick one up. Apparently black smiths just have those lying around. Akatarou then leaves his family to experience the world, under the self-proclaimed name, Chikaratarou. Along his journey he encounters two goons, one after...