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The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
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The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  322 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Preface by Donald Keene
Taketori Monogatari, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is the oldest surviving Japanese work of fiction; The Tale of Genji (written about 1010) referred to it as the "ancestor of all romances." The names of five suitors, resembling those of members of the Japanese court of the eighth century, have suggested to some scholars that the The Tale of the Bambo
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Paperback, 180 pages
Published September 16th 1998 by Kodansha (first published 900)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,166)
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Alex
Jan 02, 2015 Alex rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: scifi otaku
Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is a ninth-centry-ish Japanese folk tale. For the first half, the most startling thing about it is how familiar it seems. A beautiful girl of mysterious origin; impossible quests assigned to suitors to prove their worth. That alone is pretty cool, right? It's neat, and a little confusing, to see how similar folktales from different places are.

Different, though, too, in some ways. I would expect the daughter here to be virtuous, and her poor adoptive father too; instead
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Ana Luković
Ok, first of all - this is NOT a book by Yasunari Kawabata. The author is unknown, since it was probably written in the Heian era (794-1192). It is the first fantastic story written in Japan. I might even add: the first science fiction story, due to the "Moon people" and the princess being from out of this world.

It might not be so appealing to other people, but to me, as a student of Japanese language and Japanology, it has been very interesting, because I was able to draw a lot of parallels. Fo
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Melinda Seyler
Mar 08, 2013 Melinda Seyler rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Melinda by: newleaph@gmail.com
The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (Taketori Monogatari); modern rewriting by Yasunari Kawabata; translation by Donald Keane; Illustrations by Masayuki Miyata
Another of the 1001 books You Must Read before you Die, this Japanese story dates from the late ninth or early tenth century, at any rate prior to 905 AD. It is the oldest surviving Japanese fiction, referred to in The Tale of the Genji as the "ancestor of all romances." It is the story of a celestial being who is discovered as a tiny girl in a
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Tad Crawford
I very much enjoyed this story which The Tale of Genji refers to as the "ancestor of all romances". It's a folk tale about a woodcutter and his wife who find a tiny (3" tall) and very beautiful girl in a stalk. She quickly grows to become full size and, as we all know, you have to be careful with people who are born from roots, seeds, stalks, etc. She has five suitors and makes tests for each of them that would challenge the best of us. Ultimately, we get a glimpse of how the immortals act and w ...more
Paul
Dec 08, 2008 Paul rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: japan
While the story in and of itself is wonderful in Kawabata's retelling (even if translated), what is really precious and amazing with this particular edition is the gorgeous kiri-e artwork that accompanies it.
Yrinsyde
I didn't read this version of the story; I found a copy in a JSTOR e-journal which I downloaded from Monash Uni and imported into my Kindle. The import made the text very very small! Not too small that I couldn't read it though, and the story is quite short. If it was the length of Tristram Shandy, I would have given up it up for the hardcopy. The story itself is very sweet and funny - the lengths the suitors would go to! And the poor earthly parents ... I must admit I got a tear in my eye at th ...more
Aleta
It's thanks to the 1001 Books You Must Read list that I ever even heard of this beautiful fairy tale. Not that far from Western fairy tales at first, but then, wow, does it surprise! At first it seems quite ordinary, a childless man finds a tiny girl outside (maybe H.C. Andersen got inspiration for Thumbelina here?) and brings her up with his wife. The girl grows to ordinary size and stunning looks, yet turns away every suitor. Eventually she sends some persistent fellows out on ridiculous quest ...more
Ann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yuki
Feb 03, 2011 Yuki rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Japanophiles/Nipponophiles
Recommended to Yuki by: 1001
Ancient (late 9th c.) Japanese tale of cold celestial beauty and five ardent yet arrogant suitors assigned impossible tasks to prove their worthiness and love. When this story is told to children in Japan, Kaguya-hime (Shining Princess) is a lovely and clever heroine, and her warmth and love for the elderly couple--the bamboo cutter who discovers her as a tiny baby inside a bamboo stalk, and his wife--who raise her as their own is what shines through. The seeming heartlessness of an alien being ...more
Hacedores Desierto
Me estreno en literatura clásica. Y qué mejor que la japonesa para ello. Descubrí este libro en la biblioteca y me sorprendió ver el nombre de mi sensei en la portada así que, llena de curiosidad, me lo pillé para leer. (Aunque al que le tengo ganas es a Genji... ya caerá, ya). Y me encontré con la primera obra de este género que podría considerarse la incursora de la ficción nipona.

El prólogo está escrito por Mario Vargas Llosa (sí, el premio Nobel de este año, ese) donde nos cuenta cómo conoci
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Katherine
I was first introduced to this story through the game, "Okami" (which is fantastic, by the way), and so I think I was biased towards it before I even started reading. It is, however, almost impossible to find a free copy to read. It's worth the effort though.

It's pretty standard format for a fairy/folktale, with a certain number of suitors vying for the mysterious and beautiful heroine's hand in marriage, and they have to complete the tasks she sets them. But at the same time it couldn't be mor
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Otto Lambauer
warum diese kurze geschichte über ein mondmädchen aus japan aus dem 10.jh. vor christus zu den 1001 büchern, die man vor dem sterben lesen soll gehört, erschliesst sich mir nicht. die unerfüllte liebe des kaisers zu einer ausserirdischen ist diese ehre nicht wert.
Îshta
"Taketori monogatari" o "Storia della principessa Kaguya", è una delle due fiabe Giapponesi più conosciute al mondo. (per chi non sapesse, l'altra è Momotaro)
Scritta intorno al 900 d.C. è considerato il più antico esempio di narrativa del paese, scritta in lingua giapponese tardoantica.

E' un racconto di un centinaio di pagine, che si legge in un'ora. Molto diversa dalle solite fiabe occidentali alle quali siamo abituati. Mi ha affascinato tantissimo questa strana principessa splendente con i suo
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Lauren
Sadly, this was not the version I read and my translation was fair but nonetheless I really enjoyed this story.

It was akin to science fiction despite having been written in the 10th century. The main character was from the moon. She is discovered in a bamboo forest by a bamboo cutter who adopts her as his own child. He and his wife become very attached to the girl and she is by far the most beautiful girl in existence.

I enjoyed her forcing the men who "loved" her (they hadn't seen her, let alo
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Allison
Oct 18, 2014 Allison marked it as to-read
An old man just walked up to me at the DocNYC info table and asked where he can buy this book, so I'm taking this as a sign to read it
Fiona Robson
I recently bought a copy of "1001 Books to Read Before you Die" with the intention of actually trying to read through the recommended books! This was the first on the list and it was a pleasure as I would not have otherwise heard of it. It is probably the first ever Science Fiction story, telling the story of a poor old bamboo cutter who finds a miniature girl in a stalk of bamboo. It transpires that she is from the Moon. The story continues, until the illuminated beings from the Moon come to re ...more
Rafa
Podría pertenecer a las mil y una noches.
Tanya
I enjoyed reading Japanese folklore and appreciated the illustrations.
It was a sad story though and I really felt it was "just okay," so I sort of have an uneasiness that I missed something here. I realize that most books on this 1,001 books to read before you die I give 2-3 stars as a rating...guess I had higher expectations of this for some reason. Glad to have read it though, considering that has a long historical significance and more so because I enjoyed the artwork.
Jamie Henderson
This is a wonderful story beautifully told. The excellent translation brings across Kawabata's style. The pictures are gorgeous. It is short, but wonderful.
Ivy Reisner
Excellent, and very old, Japanese fable. The translation is quite well done, not an easy thing for a book that depends so much on plays of language. Anime fans, read this and watch for two things--the feather robe from Ceres and the robe of the fire rat from Inuyasha. I'm not sure if this is the source of those (I suspect it is) but both are mentioned here.
Deanne
Quick read which seems more like a fairy story, the little girl found in the bamboo reminds me of Thumberlina. Except this girl becomes normal size, and tries to get out of marrying by setting impossible tasks for her suitors. This version has both the english translation and the original japanese as well as some beautiful pictures.
Kristen
This is a fabulous translation with beautiful illustrations. It's a great fairy tale, and is reminiscent of a number of the Arabian Nights stories. I don't know which came first, since the Arabian Nights were written over a long period.

Highly enjoyable.
Dean Prichard
Kawabata's retelling of this classic Japanese tale is captivating, but what really makes the book is the paper-cut artwork (kiri-e) by Miyata Masayuki. The whole series of these books are worth owning for the artwork alone.
MoonTea
It's a tale as Japanese tales go, with much seclusion and covering of one's perfect face.

But the kiri-e, oh, the kiri-e illustrations~ perfection far greater than the Shining Princess herself.
Anie
A classic Japanese tale of a little girl found in a bamboo reed. Both the modern Japanese and the English translations in this book are good, and the art is absolutely breath-taking.
Matthew
Fun, interesting little tale. Takes getting used to, the style I mean. Very cool book though, and tells alot about Japanese society at the time.
Steven
A great story! The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is the oldest surviving work of Japanese Fiction. A nice fairy tale with a good story line.
larthia
This is not the edition I've actually read, but for listing purposes it shall do. Looking forward to reading the original version one day.
Craig
Not much to add but that this is a simple and wonderfully told story with exquisite illustrations in this edition.
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