Are you interested in reading Japanese fairy tales?
“Princess Kaguya” or “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” tells the story of an otherwordly beautiful young woman, who was found inside bamboo as a baby. It is said to be the oldest fairy tale romance in Japan (about 900 AD).
Let’s read this story together! Whether you have just remembered hiragana or are already well accustomed to classical Japanese literature – there is an appropriate text for every level of reading ability linked here.
Learners with abilities about JLPT N5:
This is a simple retelling without any kanji. Cute handmade origami figures will help you understand the main plot points of this fairy tale.
Learners with abilities about JLPT N4-N3:
Learners with abilities about JLPT N3-N2:
Note: All following texts are written with native speakers in mind.
A picture book version of Princess Kaguya. The illustrations for every page are cute and provide context. Mostly hiragana, but written in a small and unusual handwritten font.
Learners with abilities about N2:
Retelling of the story of Princess Kaguya for NHK’s children program おはなしのくに as a PDF. Mostly hiragana, but featuring some unusual words.
Read the fairy tale in classic Japanese (N1+):
Feeling up to the challenge of reading the story how it was published in 1928? The website aozora collects these kinds of older literature and provides them to read on their site. You will need some experience in reading older Japanese to fully understand everything, but even just comparing the sentences to those of the easy retellings can be a fun practice!
A full classical Japanese version can be found at the Japanese Text Initiative by the University of Virginia. (Thanks to redditor honkoku for sharing this link with me!)
So, how was it?
Did you finish reading かぐや姫 for your level of Japanese? How was it? Did you learn new words? What part did you enjoy the most? Post a comment below or share your thoughts with me on twitter or instagram! #letsreadkaguyahime!
Reading time: February 21st until February 28th