In “Rainbow Bridge” two girls, Otāchan and Okīchan, go out to collect special shoots near the local lake, which is said to be home to a water god. The rainbow that spans the lake every summer will become an important symbol for the pair.
Publisher: Miyagi Gakuen University
Author (original): 野口雨情
Author (retelling): 熊谷未来 and 高橋なつ
Length: 27 pages
This version of the story is a result of a workshop at Miyagi Gakuin University, which aimed at retelling Japanese classics in easy Japanese. The Original was written by 野口雨情 in 1921 and is available through Aozora.
虹の橋 is a bit weird to read even in simple Japanese. It’s not too uncommon in older Japanese literature to first set the scene by describing a mystical background, before introducing the characters. However, this story is also regularly interrupted by verses that are stylistically different from the main story and add another narrative layer.
But even though the story itself might make you pause every now and then, the authors of this easy retelling did a great job with their use of grammar and vocabulary. Whenever they chose to include specialised vocabulary, e.g. for the plants the girls are gathering, they include pictures attached to those words and it’s all very easy to understand.
You can download all five stories from this project as an epub or pdf file on the Miyagi Gakuin’s 「やさしい日本語」page.
For easy access, here’s the direct link to the pdf of this story about the rainbow bridge: https://www.mgu.ac.jp/miyagaku_cms/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/niji_web2.pdf