There is an old, old couple, childless and so poor they haven’t enough to eat. One day the old woman is washing clothes in the stream, when she sees an enormous peach floating and bobbing on the water. She has never seen such a big fruit. She thinks of supper. What a hearty meal this peach will make. She has no stick to draw it in. She sings it a song instead:
Distant water is bitter
Nearby water sweet.
Leave the distant water
and come into the sweet.
The peach drifts nearer and nearer as the old woman sings. It stops at her feet.
Her husband comes home, tired and hungry. They sit on either side of the peach. The old man raises a knife to carve the fruit, when suddenly it splits open and out tumbles a pretty baby boy. The baby is laughing and can speak.
“Don’t be afraid,” he says. “The gods know how much you wanted a child. They have sent me to comfort you in your old age.”
The couple is overcome with joy. They caress the little boy, they sing to him, they call him Momotaro, Son of the Peach.
When he is fifteen, Momotaro tells his father he must take a long journey to an island where the oni live. His father knows Peach Boy is supernatural and gives him permission to go. All the devils in the world cannot harm one who is sent from Heaven in a peach.
The old woman gives Momotaro three rice cakes to sustain him on his journey. Along the way, he meets a monkey, a dog, and a pheasant, who agree to accompany him, each in return for a rice cake. Momotaro and his three trusty companions defeat the demons and free a group of imprisoned maidens. They go home triumphant to the old man and old woman and people of the village, to whom they return treasures pillaged by the oni.