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StoryThe legend of Momotaro,
Not a Folk Tale

Japan Heritage"Okayama, the Birthplace of the legend of Momotaro

- A tale of ogre conquest handed down through ancient Kibi heritage -"

Ura and the Legend of the Ogre Vanquishment

Legends of ogre conquest remain in Okayama, called Kibi in those days.

In ancient times, an ogre named Ura lived in Kibi. From his castle at Mt. Kinojo, Ura would attack the villagers and commit evil acts. As a result, the king of Yamato ordered Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto to vanquish Ura.
Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto readies a camp in Nakayama in Kibi and builds shields of boulders to consolidate defenses, while Ura attacks with a bow and arrows from his castle.After a fierce battle, the wounded Ura transforms into a carp to escape, but Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto changes into a cormorant and catches and slays Ura.
However, in the legend of Momotaro of Okayama, there was a sad continuation to the story.

Numerous cultural assets related to this legend remain in modern-day Okayama Prefecture, including Mt. Kinojo (Kinojo Castle) where Ura resided, Kibitsu-jinja Shrine and Kibitsuhiko-jinja Shrine, where Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto is venerated, and The Narukama Shinji ritual, which tells fortunes from the ringing sound of the kettle under which the head of Ura is buried.

The Influence of Ancient Kibi

From this legend, we can infer the great influence that ancient Kibi had.

There are large ruins in the Kibi region that rival those of the Kinai region, including the Tatetsuki Ruins and the two Tsukuriyama (造山/作山) burial mounds. Additionally, the cylindrical earthenware vessels used here for funerary festivals were the origin of the haniwa figurines that would appear later. These facts tell us that ancient Kibi possessed the influence and the culture needed to create these large tombs. It has been thought that the battle for influence between Kibi and Yamato might be what lies behind battle between Ura and Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto.

The Origins of Momotaro

The tale of Ura’s vanquishment by Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto, which has been told in this area since ancient times, is the basis for the famous Japanese Momotaro folk tale.
The peach (momo), from which the name Momotaro is derived, was used as an amulet to ward off evil, and it has been cultivated in Okayama since ancient times. Furthermore, the millet used as an ingredient in the kibidango (millet dumplings) given by Momotaro to the dog, monkey, and pheasant are said to have been named after Kibi. The legend of Momotaro originated in the Okayama region and spread far and wide as a folk tale.

The land of Kibi invites you to experience a world of mystery, with various artifacts that preserve the tale of the ogre vanquishment and burial mounds that tell us about ancient times.