Monthly Archives: July 2010

Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Kintarō, the Golden Boy

"Kintaro and Carp in a Waterfall," ca. 1820 by Japanese artist Totoya Hokkei.

There are all kinds of stories as to how Kintarō was born, from being born in the forest after his mother (a princess) escaped fighting between his father and uncle, to one story where his mother is Yama-uba, a mountain crone, impregnated by a clap of lightning sent by a red dragon. He was said to be extremely strong even as a very small child – where he ran around naked, except for a bib around his neck with the kanji for “gold.”  He was said to be very close to animals.  They did his bidding, let him ride them, and possibly even taught him their language.  From the time he was a small child he was fighting monsters and helping local workers.

When Kintarō grew up, he met samurai Minamoto no Yorimitsu, who was very impressed by his strength, and so made him a personal retainer.  Kintarō was going by the name Sakata no Kintoki at this time, after Mt. Kintoki where he was raised.  Kintarō trained in Kyoto, learning martial arts under Yorimitsu, and eventually became the leader of Yorimitsu’s Shitennō or “four braves.”  Eventually he brought his mother to Kyoto as well.

Today in Japan Kintarō is a very popular figure, with his face on art, manga, and even candy.  (Actually, the candy’s been around for centuries).  If you’re interested in Kintarō, there is an anime called Golden Boy that is based on the legend.

Kintarō (?, often translated as “Golden Boy”) is a folk hero from Japanese folklore. A child of superhuman strength, he was raised by a mountain hag on Mount Ashigara. He became friendly with the animals of the mountain, and later, after catching Shutendouji, the terror of the region around Mount Ooe, he became a loyal follower of Minamoto no Yorimitsu under the new name Sakata Kintoki (坂田公時?). He is a popular figure in noh and kabuki drama, and it is a custom to put up a Kintarō doll on Boy’s Day in the hope that boys will become equally brave and strong.

Kintarō is supposedly based on a real man, named Sakata Kintoki, who lived during the Heian period and probably came from what is now the city of Minami-ashigara. He served as a retainer for the samurai Minamoto no Yorimitsu and became well known for his abilities as a warrior. As with many larger-than-life individuals, his legend has grown with time.

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[edit] Legend

Several competing stories tell of Kintarō’s childhood. In one, he was raised by his mother, Princess Yaegiri, daughter of a wealthy man named Shiman-chōja, in the village of Jizodo, near Mt. Kintoki. In a competing legend, his mother gave birth to him in what is now Sakata. She was forced to flee, however, due to fighting between her husband, a samurai named Sakata, and his uncle. She finally settled in the forests of Mt. Kintoki to raise her son. Alternatively, Kintarō’s real mother left the child in the wilds or died and left him an orphan, and he was raised by the mountain witch Yama-uba (one tale says Kintarō’s mother raised him in the wilds, but due to her haggard appearance, she came to be called Yama-uba). In the most fanciful version of the tale, Yama-uba was Kintarō’s mother, impregnated by a clap of thunder sent from a red dragon of Mt. Ashigara.

The legends agree that even as a toddler, Kintarō was active and indefatigable, plump and ruddy, wearing only a bib with the kanji for “gold” (金) on it. His only other accoutrement was a hatchet (ono and masakari). He was bossy to other children (or there simply were no other children in the forest), so his friends were mainly the animals of Mt. Kintoki and Mt. Ashigara. He was also phenomenally strong, able to smash rocks into pieces, uproot trees, and bend trunks like twigs. His animal friends served him as messengers and mounts, and some legends say that he even learned to speak their language. Several tales tell of Kintarō’s adventures, fighting monsters and demons, beating bears in sumo wrestling, and helping the local woodcutters fell trees.

As an adult, Kintarō changed his name to Sakata no Kintoki. He met the samurai Minamoto no Yorimitsu as he passed through the area around Mt. Kintoki. Yorimitsu was impressed by Kintarō’s enormous strength, so he took him as one of his personal retainers to live with him in Kyoto. Kintoki studied martial arts there and eventually became the chief of Yorimitsu’s Shitennō (“four braves”), renowned for his strength and martial prowess. He eventually went back for his mother and brought her to Kyoto as well.

[edit] Kintarō in modern Japan

Kintarō is an extremely popular figure in Japan, and his image adorns everything from statues to storybooks, anime, manga to action figures. For example, the anime Golden Boy stars a character with the same name. Kintarō as an image is characterized with a Masakari ax, a Haragake Japanese-style apron and sometimes a tame bear.

Kintarō candy has been around since the Edo period; no matter how the cylinder-shaped candy is cut, Kintarō’s face appears inside. Japanese tradition is to decorate the room of a newborn baby boy with Kintarō dolls on Children’s Day (May 5) so that the child will grow up to be strong like the Golden Boy. A shrine dedicated to the folk hero lies at the foot of Mt. Kintoki in the Hakone area near Tokyo. Nearby is a giant boulder that was supposedly chopped in half by the boy hero himself.

The name of the main character of Gintama, Sakata Gintoki, is based on Kintarō.

In the anime series, Otogi Zoshi Kintaro is one of the main characters.

The Imagin Kintaros from the tokusatsu series Kamen Rider Den-O is based on Kintarō, emulating the bear and axe elements.

In the video game Otogi 2 developed by From Software, Kintoki wields a large axe as his main weapon, known as the ‘Crimson Axe’.

Kintarō appears as an alien character who rides a flying bear and wields a small (but large for his size) axe in the animated television series Urusei Yatsura.[1]

In the anime and manga series The Prince of Tennis, a character by the name of Tōyama Kintarō is the youngest regular member of the Shitenhoji Middle School tennis team. He is named after Kintarō, and shares his namesake’s amazing superhuman strength.

In the series YuYu Hakusho Makintaro of team Uraotogi (Dark Tournament) is loosely based on Kintaro, though quickly defeated by Hiei.

In the series One Piece, the character called Sentoumaru has a design based on Kintaro (he wears the same clothes and wields a giant battle axe). Even his signature attacks is called Ashigara Dokkoi.

In the Power Instinct video game series, Kintaro appears as a playable character as Kintaro Kokuin. He uses his animal friends, such as a bear and a koi fish, as well as his axe, to attack the opponent, and is capable of transforming into a dog-like superhero named “Poochy”.


Lisa’s What day is this Anyway? Perspective: Comic Con!

Phew.  Okay, it’s Wednesday. I know that.  I missed my Post yesterday, apologies.  The past week has been insane for me.  First Comic Con, and then moving back to Utah.  But enough about my life.  I want to show off some of the cool stuff I saw at the San Diego Comic Con.

Like most years, I spent comparatively a lot of time at the LEGO booth.  I was able to go into the floor early on Thursday, and get some clear shots without the masses of crowds in the way!

Of course the very first thing I took a picture of was something Harry Potter.  More specifically, the new LEGO Harry Potter video game.  I was able to play around on the the game a little bit, and I LOVED it.  Of course, I’m a big fan of LEGO video games in general – they’re just my type of video game. All you have to do is smash things and fight people, and you have endless lives to do it with.  Fun, fun. 😉

Bar none, one of the biggest things at the Con this year was TRON: Legacy.  If you’ve never seen the original TRON (I hadn’t, until a few weeks ago) I highly suggest checking it out.  Last year when they started promo-ing the twenty-years-in-the-making sequel, I didn’t really get the hype, but now I’m just as excited as anybody.  Well, maybe not quite, because I haven’t been waiting for it for nearly as long, but I’m so looking forward to what they can do with the film.  The first one was amazing so far as the technology of the time was considered, and the new one promises nothing less than that.

Of course, the thing I really went there for was the panels.  Actually, ONE panel in specific.  The WB panel.  My fiancé and I stood in line for no less than FIVE HOURS in order to get a glimpse at the big hits the WB is working on at the moment.  Namely: The Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, a new femme-powered Zack Snyder film called Sucker Punch featuring Emily Browning and some other fantastic ladies, and for the first time ever at Comic Con, Harry Potter.

Really, Harry Potter only brought out Tom Felton (ONLY?!!!) and showed new footage (which they asked us not to record) but I have to say from a die-hard fan’s point of view that the film looks amazing.  I was nearly jumping out of my seat with excitement.  And it was fun to see Tom.  He is such a cutie.

One of the funnest bits of the panel was when a little boy asked Ryan Reynolds to recite the Green Lantern oath, though.  This kid was such a scene stealer.  Have a look:

So!  That was a little taste of my Comic Con experience.  I think Sucker Punch looks fantastic, too.  About five girls in a mental institution, and going back and forth from the real world, where the main girl is in danger of being labotomized, to a fantasy world where the girls can (and do!) do whatever they want.  It looks very, very cool.  I’m extremely excited for all three films!


Movie Magic Monday: Chicken and Biscuits

Whether or not you listen to country music (and I don’t, usually), it’s easy to appreciate the brilliant parody of Twilight and New Moon by singer Colt Ford. The video is right on the money. I mean, it’s not enough that song is “I can’t get enough of your kisses, like chicken and biscuits” (I kid you not), the video takes to that next absurd level. Check it out!


Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Villa of the Mysteries

There is much to be curious about when it comes to Pompeii, an entire city caught in a freeze frame, captured as its people went about their daily lives, and preserved intact for us to see. I often ask myself how the townspeople were caught so off guard. Didn’t they see the warning signs? The frequent tremors? The smoking mountain?

It’s both heartbreaking and morbidly fascinating to see the plaster bodies, their faces registering genuine terror and surprise. And just like that, an entire village wiped from history for nearly 2,000 years.

When it was finally uncovered, beneath layers of ash and volcanic earth,  it was a ghost town. Eerie in its silence, everything left neatly in its place. Including, the Villa of the Mysteries.

This Roman villa was much like any other in its elegant triclinium, or formal dining room, rooms designated for entertainment, and an in house wine press-  but it is its frescoes which earn it its name. Depicting various Bacchian rites, the villa is said to have been the  location of induction into a special cult of Dionysus, in which the inductees drank intoxicants and performed other trance inducing activities, not limited to dance, music, and even flagellation. It was most often foreigners, slaves, and women who took part in these rites since it helped liberate them from the restraints of society.

As the murals depict a logical progression of rites involving a female inductee, it is often argued that the rites were nothing more than the symbolic depiction of marriage rites, but no one is one hundred percent certain of their true meaning.

Be that as it might, it’s almost frightening to imagine the type of drug induced debauchery that might have occurred in this building, but just as equally fun to imagine the many secret society type groupings they might have had. It would certainly be an interesting time period and location to write about. Especially if the ending is one we all know, where Mt Vesuvius goes boom.


Book Geek Wednesday: B&N Free Ebooks

We all know that Amazon and B&N often give out classics ebooks for free. The good stuff, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Peter Pan, etc. But did you know that B&N has taken to giving out a few more current ebooks as well? I wish I could say there was a plethora of YA and fantasy, but since I know most of our readers vary in age, I feel comfortable saying there’s a decent selection.

I happen to be knee deep in the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. The first book, Darkfever is available for free. This book is by no means YA, there’s swearing, sexy dangerous fae,  murder, mystery, and a man who is far more than he pretends to be. But the series is four books deep and it’s ridiculously intricate. The worldbuilding is fantastic and the mystery, as it unravels only gets more complex. I love it.

Fang, A Maximum Ride novel by James Patterson is available.  As is Pride Prejudice and Zombies.  And one I’m kind of excited about, Winter’s Passage, an Iron Fey novel by Julie Kagawa.

Check them out! You can’t go wrong with free books. 🙂


Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: This Week – Comic Con!

Some of you may know that tomorrow starts the annual San Diego Comic Con, the biggest pop culture convention in the world, basically.  I’ve been going to the Con for years now, either working it or just going for fun with my family.  I’ve seen some fun stuff, too.   The Supernatural boys (actually, just Jensen), David Tennant from Doctor Who (be still my heart!), movie panels, sneak peaks at movies and TV shows… the works.  I’ll only be going a couple of days this week, but I’m looking forward to it.  It’s a lot of madness and a LOT of people, but it’s always fun.

The biggest thing I’m looking forward to this year?  Well, there’s no Twilight panel (I’m kind of relieved) but there just so happens to be a Deathly Hallows one.  Or, okay, a WB one, that will include the Deathly Hallows.  I’m not holding my breath towards seeing Dan Rad or Rupert Grint, but maybe if life loves me I’ll see a Phelps boy or two.  There is a slim possibility that Ryan Reynolds will be making an appearance in said panel also, to promote The Green Lantern.  I’m going to spend all Saturday morning standing in line to see this panel, but I’ll be doing it with a nice boy who loves me, so it should be fun.

My point in all of this?  Is that I plan on taking a lot of pictures and reporting back here next week.  I’m also hoping to get some yummy ARC books from the publishing house tables.  Mmmm, free books.  See you all next week!


Movie Magic Monday: Shane Acker’s 9

Okay, I have to admit, when I first saw advertisements for this movie, all I could think of was Oddworld.  You can thank my having grown up with video-game-playing brothers for this (in fact, the mention impressed my fiancé, who I watched this with).  The little creatures had a similar look, and both involve one of these odd little critters leading an insurrection in a dystopian world.  The two really weren’t as similar as I was thinking, though… and it was an interesting, if not somewhat confusing little movie.  Of course, it was made in conjunction with Tim Burton, so you had to know it was going to be weird going in.

What I have to say first off, though, was that the graphics were amazing.  It was the main reason I wanted to see the film, and I wasn’t disappointed for a minute.  The world, even in it’s dark and dusky, had it’s own kind of beauty to it.  The characters were fascinating, too.  My favorite was probably the twins, who were just cute to watch.  The movie is dark in general, there’s a lot of sadness and loss involved in it, but ultimately it has a good, satisfying, if again a little confusing ending.  It’s more of a “there’s hope for the future after all,” kind of ending than a secure resolution, but that’s really all you want by the end.  It was a little scary, though, so I don’t know that I’d let little kids watch it, at least.  If you’re into cautionary tales about technology gone wrong (and then right, and then wrong, and then right) then this is definitely an interesting movie to watch.  It’s short, too, which I didn’t realize going in. I don’t know if it’s something I’d want to watch over and over again, though I would like to see it one more time, maybe, for clarity.

I’m going to give 9 a B+A++ for graphics, though.


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