The Immortal Peaches

18 Oct

The story of Momotaro depicts the journey of a brave young man born from a peach. With the millet dumplings his parents packed for him, Momotaro befriends a dog, monkey, and pheasant who fight alongside him against the oni of Oni Island. Upon victory, the heroes split the retrieved treasure amongst themselves and Momotaro returns home safely. In this story, the millet dumplings are portrayed as a mythical food because they initially bring the heroes together and ultimately provide them with the strength to overcome the oni.

Mythical foods are a common characteristic of various cultures. One example is the Chinese myth of the Monkey King. With the sky as his father and earth as his mother, the Monkey King was born out of a rock. Being bold and curious, the Monkey King grew to be very strong and was eventually apprenticed under an elder god who taught him to use various forms of magic, most notably the ability to fly on a Nimbus Cloud. In his pursuit to become stronger, the Monkey King heard of the Jade Emperor’s Immortal Peaches, which take three thousand years to grow and grant its consumers immortality. Flying on his Nimbus Cloud, he snuck into the Jade Palace and ate one of the Emperor’s Peaches, gaining immortality. He soon became one of the strongest warriors of the heavens, using his powers for good and protecting others. To this day, the peach remains a symbol of good health and longevity in Chinese culture, often being used for religious events and given as gifts between family and friends for good luck.

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