One day, while walking in the bamboo forest, an old, childless bamboo cutter called Taketori, came across a mysterious, shining stalk of bamboo. After cutting it open, he found inside it a baby whose size is of his thumb. Taketori said, “Wow! I just found such a beautiful girl! I should take her home! I will raise her with my wife wholeheartedly!” Taketori named her Kaguya-Hime, which means “radiant-night princess”. Thereafter, Taketori found that whenever he cut down a stalk of bamboo, inside he found a small nugget of gold. Soon Taketori became rich, and Kaguya-Hime grew from a small baby into a woman of normal size and extraordinary beauty.
Eventually, five princes came to Taketori’s residence to ask for Kaguya-Hime’s hand in marriage. To this end, Kaguya-Hime prepared impossible tasks for the princes to accomplish.
That night, Kaguya told the five princes what each of them had to bring. Kayuga said, “The first have to bring me the stone begging bowl of the buddha from India. The second has to retrieve a jeweled branch from the island of Penglai. The third should seek the legendary robe of the fire-rat of China. Whereas the fourth should retrieve a colored jewel from a dragon’s neck. And finally, the final prince has to find the cowrie which was born from swallows.”
Realizing that it was an impossible task, the first prince returned with an expensive bowl, but after noticing that the bowl did not glow with holy light, Kaguya-Hime realized that she was deceived. Likewise, two other princes attempted to deceive her with fakes but also failed. The fourth gave up after encountering a storm, while the final prince lost his life in his attempt to retrieve the object.
After this, the Emperor of Japan, Mikado, came to see the strangely beautiful Kaguya-hime and, upon falling in love, asked her to marry him. Mikado said, “Kaguya, you’re so pretty. I’m falling in love with you. Would you like to be my wife?” Unfortunately, Kaguya-Hime rejected his marriage proposal.
That summer, whenever Kaguya-hime saw the full moon, her eyes filled with tears. Her parents often asked Kaguya, “What’s the matter, Kaguya?” But she was unable to tell them what was wrong. She had to return to her people on the Moon.
Kaguya-Hime went back to the Moon
The parents became very sad and were soon put to bed sick. The Emperor read her letter and was overcome with sadness. He asked his servants: “Which mountain is the closest place to Heaven?”, to which one replied, “The Great Mountain of Suruga Province is the closest place to Heaven.” The Emperor ordered his men to take the letter to the summit of the mountain and burn it, with the hope that his message would reach the distant princess. The men were also commanded to burn the elixir of immortality since the Emperor did not desire to live forever without being able to see her.
The above legend informs us that the name Mount Fuji is derived from Fujiyama, which means immortality.
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