桃【Peaches】

In the Kojiki and the myths of Japan, the peach has more importance than any other fruit. In one case, when Izanagi had gone into Hades to bring hack his dead wife, Izanami, he used the comb from his right coil of hair to make a light to see where she was, and saw her rotting body! This frightened and revolted him, and he ran away.

古事記と日本の神話の中で、桃はほかのどんな果物よりも重要な位置を占めています。一つ例を挙げましょう。伊耶那岐が黄泉(よみ)の国へ亡くなった妻・伊耶那美を連れ戻しに黄泉(よみ)の国へ行ったとき、妻の居場所を突き止めるべく左側のまげにさしていたくしを用いて明りを点けたのですが、目にしたものは腐敗した妻の死体でした。恐れおののいたたイザナギはたまらず逃げ出します。

Izanami was ashamed because he had seen her is such a terrible condition, and she sent the ugly Hags of Hades after him. While running as fast as he could, he threw down the grape-vine from his hair. It instantly grew grapes, which the hags stopped to eat. Then, he broke up the bamboo comb from the left coil of his hair, and threw that down. It immediately grew bamboo shoots, which they also stopped to eat.

そのような惨めな姿を見られ辱しめを受けた伊耶那美は「黄泉の国の醜い女」(ヨモツシコメ)に伊耶那岐の後を追わせます。 懸命に逃げながら、伊耶那岐は髪の毛からブドウのつるを取り出しそれ投げました。するとたちまちブドウの実が生り、鬼婆たちはそれを食べようと止まってしまいました。さらに伊耶那岐は、右のまげに挿した竹のくしを割って投げ捨てたところ、たちどころにタケノコが芽を出し、再び鬼婆たちはそれを食べるために立ち止まってしまいました。

Frustrated at the failure of the Hags of Hell, Izanami sent the eight Thunder Gods, and 1500 of the Braves of Hell after him. Izanagi came to a peach tree, and threw three of the peaches at his pursuers, defeating them all. In his gratitude to the peaches, Izanagi told them that they must always help the people of his country, just as they had helped him, to defeat evil.

へまをやらかす鬼婆たちに業を煮やした伊耶那実は、八人の雷神と千五百人の黄泉の国の兵を遣わし伊耶那岐追わせます。1本の桃の木にたどり着いた伊耶那岐は、三個の桃の実を追っ手たちに投げつけ、一人残らず退治してしまいました。 伊耶那岐は桃に感謝し彼らに対して、伊耶那岐を救ったのと同じように彼の国の人々を常に邪悪なものから救わなくてはならないと言います。

Then he designated them as, “The Great Divine Fruit.” Since then, peaches have been special to the Japanese. Then, there was the story of Momotaro. He was the hero of an old folk story, and was born from a peach, to two elderly people. They loved him dearly, and when he grew into a fine strong man, he went to Ogre’s Island to destroy the terrible ogres, who were causing great trouble among the people of the land. He defeated them with the help of three animals, a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant.

そして、伊耶那岐は桃に「偉大で神聖な果実」の名を与えます。以来、桃は日本人にとり特別な果物となのです。そして、桃太郎のお話が生まれます。老夫婦の元に桃から生まれ出た桃太郎は、昔話の英雄です。 老夫婦の愛情に育まれ立派で逞しい若者へと成長した桃太郎は、島に暮らす人々をたいへん苦しめていた鬼を退治すべく、鬼が島へ向かいます。桃太郎は犬、猿、キジの助けを借りて鬼どもをやっつけます。

Everyone knows the story, but when we think of the first part of this essay, we can understand why a peach was chosen for that tale, rather than an orange, or an apple. The value of peaches is still remembered in local stories and customs. The old stories tell us many things. Have you read them all? Neither have I, but I am trying hard to do so.

この物語はだれでも知っていますが、このエッセイの冒頭部分から、みかんやりんごではなく桃がこの物語に登場する訳を理解することができます。地方にある物語や習慣は今でも桃の持つ意味を思い起こさせます。古い物語は私たちに多くのことを教えてくれます。皆さんはお読みになったことがありますか。私はまだ読んだことがありませんが、ただいま一生懸命奮闘しています。

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