The Tale of Princess Kaguya

the tale of princess kaguya

Kaguya-hime or Princess Kaguya is a character from a Japanese fairy tale. The myth of this Japanese princess dates back to the 10th and is known as Taketori monogatari. The tale of the bamboo cutter...

This text is often considered one of the oldest Japanese narrative works in the country. Like many tales from Japanese Mythology, this tale written in prose and written entirely in kana.

It consists of seven tales in its complete version. Despite the many retellings in emaki and Japanese calligraphy, the original author of this work remains unknown. The most famous works are those created by Kose Omi or Ki no Tsurayuki

The Japanese Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

The kaguya princess dressed in a woman's kimono in a bamboo forest

Once upon a time in the land of the rising sun, there was an old man, poor and without descendants. This old man is a bamboo cutter. As usual, he goes all day long into the forest in order to cut bamboo.

One day, by chance, he sees a bright light coming out of one of the bamboo trees. The old man was very intrigued and decided to cut that tree.

Inside, he discovered a tiny girl with golden hair. In addition to this unusual hair, this little creature was so tiny that she fit in the palm of his hand. The bamboo cutter had no children and saw this as a divine sign. So he took this little girl home, to present to his wife...

The couple was fascinated by this miracle and decided to take care of the infant as if it were their own daughter. He names her Kaguya-hime. Thus, the course of the Japanese couple's life resumes as usual...

However, while cutting the bamboo he finds in the young shoots treasures! Silk clothes, gold nuggets etc. The family becomes rich and the adoptive father concludes that his daughter is the source of these miracles.

In the face of all this happiness, the bamboo cutter begins to believe in his daughter's unusual destiny and decides to educate her as a high-ranking girl.

From then on, the couple decided to move away from the countryside in order to settle in a palace where little Kaguya grew up under the eye of a preceptress who introduced her to the good mores and customs of the court. Kaguya princess, becomes a beautiful young woman. So beautiful, that rumors of her beauty are hard to hide and spread to the four corners of the land of the rising sun.


Japanese tale princess kaguya painted on a Japanese Ukiyo-e print

In fact, five princes from all over the country, come to her to propose. But like the Greek-Roman mythology, the latter reserved them arduous tasks in order to obtain her hand.

The five princes, however, have to work hard to obtain her hand.

In fact, the five princes compared her to a beautiful and priceless object when they proposed. Poking fun at the situation Kaguya decides to take them at their word and announces that the first one to bring the designated object, will win her hand!

Taketori-no-Okina (the old bamboo cutter) reveals to the princes what they must bring in order to obtain, the much hoped-for, hand of his daughter.

  • For the first prince, it is a stone bowl, used by Buddha when he was begging.
  • The second prince must bring him a jeweled branch from the island of Horai, a sacred island on the Nippon archipelago.
  • The third prince must bring him the robe with magical power worn by a famous rat who lives in the Kunlun Cordillera (modern China).
  • The fourth will have to acquit himself of a colorful jewel torn from the neck of a dragon.
  • As for the fifth, he will have to provide her with the shell of a migratory bird (in this case a swallow).

The five princes soon realized that the requests were simply impossible to achieve. In order to satisfy the princess, the first suitor tried to fool her by bringing her a bowl that was certainly very expensive, but not sacred. But the princess discovered the subterfuge before she married the prince.

Two other suitors also try to trick her, to no avail. The fourth prince gives up on finding the sacred relic. As for the fifth, he dies on the job.

All of the suitors have been killed.

All the suitors fail. Some time after this episode, the emperor of Japan visits the beautiful Kaguya. He instantly falls in love with her.

Determined to offer himself her hand, he offers to marry her. However, without subjecting him to any test the princess refused. The reason? She is not from this country, so she cannot follow him to the palace. But in this case...

Where does KAGUYA-HIMe come from?

The young princess kaguya ghibli

At this time, the princess shows more and more sadness in her daily life. Her adoptive parents begin to worry a lot. Indeed, when she sees the full moon, she starts to cry, without being able to explain why to her adoptive parents.

Seeing them doing everything to make her happy, she reveals to them that she comes from Tsuki no Miyako, the capital of the moon, and that she must return to her own. This Japanese celestial world belongs to the Japanese god of the moon: Tsukuyomi. The brother of the sun goddess (Amaterasu), and the storm god: Susanoo... 

After some time, the day of his return arrived. The emperor still very fond of her sent a patrol around her home to protect her from the people of the Moon, but it was too late. Indeed, celestial beings were already in front of the door of Taketori-no-Okina's house and took Kaguya-hime to the Moon, along with her people.

Before leaving she thanked her adoptive parents very warmly and addressed a letter to the Japanese emperor. 


This very famous Japanese tale, has been adapted into many contemporary formats and works. It is found in Japanese sketches (emaki). Princess Kaguya is drawn in bamboo stalks as early as the 10th century.

Japanese animated films or animated series (manga) such as Pokemon or Naruto are sometimes inspired by this legendary and fantastic tale. As you know a lot of Japanese manga are influenced by Shinto myth or related to the Kojiki book.


Kaguya naturo is a female character in Japanese manga

In Naruto, the character of Kaguya holds a special place. She is Naruto's penultimate enemy. Kaguya is the first person to use and tame the chakra, essential energy in the ninja art. This woman is the origin of jutsu and ninjustu (the ninja techniques in the Naruto universe).

During the Great War, Sasuke Uchiwa and Naruto Uzumaki use techniques to put her out of action and save Konoha and the shinobi world. To do this, they use a seal, a super technique of sorts.

In the Shippuden universe (the second part of the Naruto manga), we discover the meeting of the ninja world with the moon people. This shows how much, in Japanese culture, the moon holds a special place!

The character of Kaguya Ostutsuki is also present in all the video games of the franchise. She can also be found in manga conventions in the form of cosplay. Shirt, sweatshirt or figurine, this key character of the end of the work is declined us many forms.


kaguya soul eater

In Soul Eater, the work of mangaka Atsushi Okubo, Kaguya is one of the clowns summoned by Asura, the main antagonist of the series. In this work, Kaguya still has a connection to our natural satellite. Indeed, she resides on the moon and confronts the protagonists in the final arc of the manga.


kaguya sama love is war

Kaguya sama is the vice president of her school's student council. In season 2 of this Japanese anime, Miyuki's character compares her relationship with Kaguya and the mythe of the Japanese princess... 

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