The oldest sf story in japan


The Oldest SF Story in Japan

Trivia of Domyoji Tenmangu* 1

The tradition of Harvest Moon Festival is thought to have its origin in a practice of the prestigious Sugawara family during the Heian period. Sugawara no Michizane wrote a poem about a poor old man, aged ninety-eight, whose sole possession is a bamboo basket. Imagine a beautiful princess visiting this old man’s shack at the foot of a mountain. Doesn’t it look exactly like the famous Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter)?

Some scholars say this story, the oldest extant SF story in Japan, was written by Sugawara. In some variations, the old protagonist, a foster father of the princess Kaguya, is called Sanuki no Miyatsuko, a governor of Sanuki*, where Sugawara also governed in in his forties. We might imagine that the tale might be written by (and about) Sugawara himself. How nice it’d be to look up at the moon shining above the sanctuary of Domoyji Tenmangu with such an image in mind!

*A Shinto shrine dedicated to tenjin, a deification of Sugawara no Michizane (845-903).
**An old province of Japan on the island of Shikoku