Continuing our exploration of peaches, Okayama is associated with the Japanese folk tale of Momotarou, or “Peach Boy” along with being a major producer of peaches.
In this tale, an old, childless woman was washing clothes in the river, and spotted a giant peach floating down. She fished the peach out and brought it home, where her and her husband prepared to eat it. Much to their surprise, when they tried to cut the peach open, out jumped a boy! The couple named him “peach boy”, or Momotarou.
Fast forward to when Momotarou was older, the family heard of some demons (oni) wrecking havoc on a nearby island. The boy decided to help, so his parents sent him off with some food. On the way, the boy met and fed (and therefore befriended per how these things go) a talking dog, monkey, and peasant. The animals helped Momotarou defeat the evil oni, and he and his friends returned home victorious (and richer!) and everyone lived happily ever after.
Well, that’s the gist of the story. If you’re interested in a fuller tale, you can read or listen to it here, or watch the video of it on youtube here. It’s in Japanese, but pretty easy to understand what’s going on.
Now, back to Okayama.
Since it is considered to be where Momotarou took place (the island the oni lived on is thought to be Megijima), Okayama features many sights related to Momotarou. In Okayama City, look for the Momotarou statue outside the station, catch a glimpse of the unique Momotarou-themed manhole covers throughout the city, and walk down Momotarou-douri (Momotaro street) where more statues abound. There’s even a Momotarou Festival, featuring fireworks and people dressed as Oni, held just this past weekend (August 2nd in 2014).
I went to Okayama on a Saturday, and so the postoffice by the station was closed. I was pretty disappointed, but went on to see Okayama Castle, Korakuen Garden, and other sites. It wasn’t until I finished that I realized the main Chuo Post Office might still be open… and it was! I got my postcards, but only after I’d seen everything. Oh well!