| This is the first volume of Nihon Mukashibanashi [Old Tales of Japan]
series. The well-known story of Momotarô is retold by Iwaya in his
This is the first retelling of the old tales of Japan by Iwaya. It is also the first modern retelling of old Japanese tales. Considering the fact that there used to be only the old stories of red books (aka-hon) descending from the Edo period, the significance of this work is great. Iwaya aimed to transform oral tales into written stories. However, in some parts, he assumes a pretentious tone rather than a simple narrative tone.
Iwaya writes in the introduction that he referred to a few source materials, but specific titles are not mentioned.
After the publication, Sino-Japanese War started in 1894 and Japanese nationalism was growing. It is no wonder that people's attention turned toward legendary stories, a national heritage. That was one of the reasons the Nihon Mukashibanashi series was popular. Momotarô is Iwaya's ideal image. Later, he also published a book on education titled Momotarôshugi Kyôuiku Sinron [New Educational Theory on Momotarô-ism] (1932).
In 1903, Iwaya's Fairy Tales of Old Japan was published by Eigaku-shimpo-sha, which carried both Japanese text of Momotarô and an English translation by Hannah Riddell. In this version, Iwaya changed his style from a pretentious tone to a narrative tone and adopted a phonetic kana orthography. Iwaya published Kaitei Shuchin Nihon Mukashibanasi [Revised Pocket Edition of Japanese Old Tales] in 1908. A reprint of the original was published by Rinsen Shoten in 1971.