Judy Sierra's 'Tasty Baby Belly Buttons'

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Culture is the culmination of a people’s beliefs, attitudes, values, and overall impressions of the world around them, and is not only expressed, but also preserved by language. Japanese culture, however, is especially distinct because during the Tokugawa period from 1603-1867, Japan was essentially isolated from the world, especially from Europe and the West. According to the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World, “the Tokugawa period now shines…as a golden age of peace and prosperity and is celebrated as the fullest expression of native Japanese culture.” Japanese culture has prominent roots in Shinto and Buddhism, the two main religions practiced in Japan, as well as the landscape of their islands, agriculture, and the importance of …show more content…

In the book, the author considers the tale from a feminist point of view, and instead of the protagonist being Momotaro, she uses Uriko-hime, which means “melon princess” in Japanese. The story starts similarly to the original, with Uriko-hime being found in a river, but when she grows up and sets out on her journey to defeat the giants, there is much more emphasis put on her as an individual. Rather than creating the sense of equality that is prevalent in the original story, the author highlights how much more important and powerful Uriko-hime is compared to the other animals. For example, towards the end of their journey to the island the group is described as “Uriko-hime and her miniscule companions” (Sierra 18 FOOTNOTE). By referring to the animals as “miniscule,” when Uriko-hime herself is a young girl and two of the animals, the dog and monkey, are not typically noted for their small size, implies that Uriko-hime is not only a bit larger in size, but also more valuable. Indeed, the whole group is probably quite miniscule compared to the giants they face, but in the text only the companions are called “miniscule” and not Uriko-hime. This change redirects the emphasis on cooperation from the original tale to the importance of Uriko-hime, thus misrepresenting the value placed on the power of the group in Japanese

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