Tales From Japan: A Strange Japanese Fairy Tale

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There is nothing like a good story to me. I was brought up hearing just about every story you could imagine. I was always fascinated that you could have so many different versions of a single tale. Japanese Fairy Tales are no different. Some of them are rather insightful, while others can be a tad strange.

One story in particular really takes the “Huh?!” Award for Japanese folktales and that the story of Urashimataro. If you don’t know this story, please check out the video below and hear my take on a very strange Japanese story:

What do you think the moral of Urashimataro is? Leave your comments below

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  1. The (possible) moral of the story? Don’t even think about cheating. Ever. *looks around* Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. lol

  2. How i think about this story,
    Maybe Urashimataro was a guy who have all we can hope after many year; home, a wife, children and something he can live with in this case fishing.
    Then the akward part means that he discover something new and in this newness he see that beautyfull forgotten all that he have got before.
    About the strange gift, I think that’s symbol of all the regrets this guy could have about is adventure.

    I really like the way that you’re telling this story and the moral u bring in the end is totally enjoyable and i agree with mainly the tird :D

    A belgian guy who have chance to see Japan for the first time soon.

  3. Lol @ “never trust a big butt and a smile”. I’m sure they had some older gentleman telling young kids that back in the olden times in some form.

  4. Moral…no idea. Only can guess that something gets lost in cultural translation – that is, as a westerner, we don’t get it or feel it the way the Japanese do. Sometimes when I see clips of Japanese humor, the same thing appears to happen – I don’t appreciate the joke. Would love to hear any stories about things you felt we’re funny, but came off awkwardly to your Japanese friends…and vice versa.

  5. Perhaps the moral is to stay out of other peoples business

  6. Weird story but interesting. I guess the moral is: Never cheat? Or like your theory about doing drugs ?

  7. Johanna Taylor says:

    I reckon it’s: don’t forget your family when you’re out having a good time. Y’know, you never know what you got, ’til it’s gone :)

  8. Mike Ryan says:

    Just from your version I would imagine that the moral lessons are humility and consequences of your actions. just becuase you may do for others does not mean you should receive in kind. in this case, he saved the turtle was prideful about doing so and rationalized going with the turtle. this is where the “every action/decision has a consequence” comes in. his decision to leave cost him his family when he knew they were waiting on him. his second decision to open the box cost him his life. There may even be a side lesson in “you can’t get back what you gave up or lost.”

    just my thoughts anyway.

  9. Bernadette Marchetti says:

    I’m a big fan of folktales, fairy tales, and myths. I’ve read that one before. There’s a similar tale told in the Celtic, specifically Irish, culture called Oisín (pronounced oh-sheen’). Instead of a golden box, it’s the princess’s white horse. Similarly, the princess is also the daughter of the god of the sea, Manannán Mac Lir. The princess’s name is Níamh Chinn Óir (“Níamh of the Golden Hair” and her name is pronounced “nehv” like Neve Campbell).

    Another difference is they get it on and have two children: Oscar, who is a very famous character in Irish mythology/folktales, and a daughter, Plúr na mBan (“flower of women”) and is pronounced “plor-na-man”).

    But Urashimataro is no where NEAR the weirdest folktale I’ve ever read. To be sure, Japan does have some of the weirdest and most convoluted stories, but every culture has its share of weird ones. I’ve read downright pornographic folktales from Russia and some of the tales from some of the tribes in Africa are pretty good. Some Inuit tales are violent in a weird but funny way. But, in my personal opinion, there have been more Japanese stories that left me going “Wait, WHAT?!” than any other culture.

    What I truly love about these kinds of stories, is how so many of them are similar across cultures! The story Westerners know as Cinderella (which is German) have analogues in several other cultures. I’ve read stories similar to Cinderella in Celtic and Russian folklore, and I’m sure there are others I have yet to discover! I do love reading the variations of a story within a culture, but I love seeing the mysterious connections that we all share too. It’s wonderful to see a story that affects people so profoundly that it appears with very few changes in two different countries that are so very far apart and didn’t really have any direct contact until the late 19th century.

    I could go on and on. And I do!…so my husband tells me. Thanks for sharing and I really loved your rendition! And sorry this is so long (*^﹏^*)

  10. Marisa Ileana Delgado says:

    Hey Donald, have you watched Furusato Saisei: Nihon no Mukashi Banashi? They tell a bunch of Japanese folk tales and it’s cute to boot!

  11. It’s strange but interesting.

  12. this was one of my favorite tales. I’ll never forget where I first heard about it. I was watching a subbed episode of the drama “Attention Please” starring the lovely Ueto Aya, when two older men were arguing about the standards of the cabin attendants. One said “back in my day, cabin attendants were so much better” bla bla bla and the other one said to him, “Who do you think you are, Urashima Taro?” Once I researched and understood who he was I was dying laughing like every time I think about it now. :D Great choice of story. Japanese mythology and mythology in general is very fascinating.

  13. main *message I mean

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