| Me o Samase Toragorô is a collection of seven short stories about Torano Toragorô (tora means "a tiger"), a tiger child, living in a bamboo bush on a mountain. Toragorô first appeared in Pu, a literary coterie magazine of stories for young children established by Ozawa Tadashi (1937 -) and others. (Ozawa was a student of Waseda University when modern Japanese children's literature was born in 1959.) Me o Samase Toragorô, published in book form in 1965, is a forerunner of modern Japanese stories for young children. |
The theme of this story is a child's identity and independency. In the first story, a fox inventor invents a machine that can double things. A monkey has one apple made into two apples, and a rabbit has one carrot made into two. Having nothing to be doubled, Toragorô goes into the machine to make himself into two, hoping that while one self can take a nap, the other can go search for dumpling. Toragorô successfully becomes two, but these two selves quarrel as to which is the real Toragorô. The fox has to make a machine to make two things back into one. Two Toragorôs become one, and says shyly: "I am the only Toragorô. I am happy that there is only one Toragorô in the world." In the second story, "Kiba o Nakusuto" [When One Loses His Fang], Toragorô loses his right fang. His mother says that he is not Toragorô because he has only one fang, and drives him out of the house. Then Toragorô has to search for his fang.
The image of a tiger puffing a tobacco pipe in a bamboo bush recalls the beginning phrase of Korean folk tale, "Once upon a time, when a tiger still smokes. . . ." The scene of Toragorô's questioning a chicken, a pig, and a sheep, and being given tasks ["Kiba o Nakusuto,"] recalls the Japanese folk tale "Shita Kiri Suzume" [A Sparrow Who Has Cut Off Her Tongue]. In this way, Me o Samase Toragorô has been influenced by folk tales. Ozawa has also been influenced by the works of Miyazawa Kenji, which can be seen in the scene of Toragorô's search Toranosuke.
Illustrations by Inoue Yôsuke skillfully depict Toragorô and enrich the world of this story. In 1980 Kôdansha Pocket Book edition was published.