Abstract

Abstract:

Taketori Monogatari, a tenth-century tale, recounts the origin of Mount Fuji's name and is one of the earliest examples of Japanese literary fiction. A bamboo cutter working in the mountains is attracted by an unearthly light, which leads him to a tiny baby inside a stalk of bamboo. He takes the baby home, where he and his wife raise her. She grows quickly into a beautiful young woman, whom they name Kaguya-hime. As is customary in the Heian Period, they keep her in a curtained chamber away from the eyes of men. But rumors of her beauty reach suitors, who vie for her hand by attempting to bring her impossibly rare gifts. They all fail. Then the emperor catches a glimpse of her and falls desperately in love. Kaguya-hime refuses him, explaining in a letter that she must return to her true home on the moon. One bright evening, two thousand royal soldiers surround her, but cannot prevent the people of the moon from taking her back.

In addition to the explanation of Mount Fuji's name given here, another is that the mountain was named Fuji (fushi or fuji means "without death, immortal") because the elixir of eternal life was burned on its summit. ED

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