Located in the Chūgoku region, Okayama city is best known for its white peaches and for… Peach Boy - Momotaro (momo means peach and taro is a common Japanese name), the main character of a well-known Japanese legend. It is said that the story has its origins right here in Okayama and the island described is Megijima. Here’s the story:
Once upon a time, in a small village, lived an old man and his wife. One day, the old woman saw a very big peach coming down the river. She picked it up and took it home. Later, when they cut the peach, a small boy came out of it. They named him Momotaro and, since they had no children, they raised him with love and care.
Momotaro grew up healthy and he become the strongest man in the village. When he heard that some oni living on the Onigashima island ("island of oni“) were terrorizing the nearby villages, he decided to go to drive them away. His old parents were worried, because an oni is a scary creature. Having a humanoid shape, thick red skin, powerful claws, horns and long, sharp teeth, the oni is huge, very strong and carries an iron club called kanabo. But Momotaro begged them to let him go, so the old woman prepared for him some kibidango (Japanese dumplings made from millet flour).
On his way, Momotaro met a dog who asked him where he was going and what he was carrying. So Momotaro told him that he was going to Onigashima, and that he was carrying the most delicious kibidango in all Japan. Then, the dog agreed to go with Momotaro and help him in exchange for the delicious kibidango. Later, the same thing happened with a pheasant and again with a monkey.
They all went to the island and because they ate those kibidango, the best in Japan, Momotaro’s party grew so strong that they easily vanquished the oni and made them promise that they will never attack the villagers again. Plus, Momotaro took all the treasures stolen by the oni and gave them back to the villagers…
The people from Okayama are so proud about Momotaro that along the main street, named obviously Momotaro-Odori, you can see many statues representing the characters from this story (Momotaro, the dog, the monkey and the pheasant)… and for the first time tourist it quickly becomes a game to find as many Momotaro statues as possible… Here’s the first Momotaro statue, right in front of the JR Okayama Station:
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: