A Dictionary for Learning Different Cultures the Fun Way


"Who lives on the Moon?" around the world

Translated by Tomoko Nagasawa-san with help from David Reeck-san

Traditionally, in Japan, people say that there are rabbits on the Moon and they make rice cakes. We wonder if people in other countries see rabbits on the Moon as we do.


Korea #1

  A Korean told us that they also see rabbits making rice cakes on the Moon.

Indonesia #1

  An Indonesian said "when I was a child, I heard there was a woman knitting".

Vietnam #1

  We heard a long story from some Vietnamese. It was an interesting and nice story. However, it is quite hard to present it here exactly the same as they told us, because they told us with beginner level of Japanese and gestures (body language?). Anyway we will try, so please read if you think there would be no chance to hear this story again in your whole life.

"A long, long time ago, there was a man who worked in the woods. He took a rest and refreshed himself under a certain tree everyday after working all day. He felt very relaxed and comfortable there. The leaves of the tree were used as medicine, so everyday the man gave the tree clear, clean water and kept telling his wife to be careful with this tree.

One day the wife carelessly gave garbage to the tree. In an instant, the tree started growing and growing. The man, who came by the tree after work, was very surprised and jumped on to the tree. The tree still kept growing with the man holding the tree, and finally reached at the Moon.

You don't believe this, do you? But take a look at the Moon up there. You see the big tree and the man resting under it. Don't you think he seems so comfortable?"

  One of the students asked, after the story was finished, "Why are there so many different stories about the Moon in the world?" It made us imagine scenes from the earliest time. In many countries, grandparents told the story of the moon to their grandchildren while holding their hands and looking up at the night sky.
China #1, #2

  We asked Mr.Yen from China if he sees the rabbits making rice cakes on the moon. He told us, "there are two stories.

One is the story that rabbits live on the moon with a Katsura tree."
"Oh, there are rabbits on the moon as well. But what about a Katsura tree?"
"Yes, but I don't know why."

"And the other story is about a heavenly maiden who lives on the moon".
"A heavenly maiden?"
"She took the elixir of life and flew up to the moon, leaving her husband behind. She is now alone and feels lonely and cold up there."

Mongolia #1

  We asked a Mongolian if they see rabbits making rice cakes on the moon.

"In Mongolia, they say that a dog lives on the moon."
A dog?

"Yes, people respect dogs very much in Mongolia. And when a child tells a lie, we say "why do you tell a lie? See, the dog on the moon is barking because of your lie". The dog on the moon barks when a person lies."

Austria #1

  We asked Japanese students of the Vienna University, including foreign students,
"what lives on the moon?"

"A man lives on the moon who turns on and off the light" in Austria.

It was the craters about which the stories of Japanese rabbits, Chinese crab, a lonely lady, rabbits with a Katsura tree, Indonesian lady knitting, Vietnamese man resting under the tree, and Mongolian dog focused. But this one in Austria is different.

Roman Myth? #1

We asked Japanese students of the Vienna University, including foreign students,
  "The moon is made of a pumpkin. On the moon, there is a man who was banished by the God.

The punishment for him was to keep eating the pumpkin. The moon gets thinner as he eats. But, as he eats, God restores the moon, and he has to repeat the same thing." (from Roman Myth?)

This is also focused on the waxing and waning of the moon. It is interesting that there are different views. You may be able to imagine the children thinking of the moon at a great distance, who lived in the area a long time ago.
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