This is the 100th Happle Tea strip! Amazing!

I wanted to do something different and fun for the 100th strip and, after talking to William about Japanese myths, he helped me cook this little baby up. I felt like it was appropriate material for that. This is the first actual Japanese myth I’ve covered, as well, which is an interesting coincidence. I know I used the Tengu, but that was just a creature. He doesn’t count.

Japanese myth is often very different, I’ve found, from many of its counterparts. There was a time in my life where I frowned upon folktales and myths originating from that lovely island nation, but I’ve recently begun to appreciate it more. It’s a subtle thing, informed by the vastly different and (until recent history) fairly isolationist attitudes of its people. It’s difficult to generalize the entire mythological history of a region so I’ll just say that a lot of the myths do not, generally, appeal to western sensibilities. Many people are often left scratching their heads after hearing one of these tales asking, “What? That’s it?” I’ve been there. I get it. But if you look deeper, you may learn to appreciate something different than what you’re used to and that will deepen your experience as a human being.

Take this myth for example. Ostensibly, it’s a myth that relates (in a sort of convoluted way) the reason behind the smoke seen on Mt. Fuji. But it’s more than that, there are layers to the tale that aren’t apparent on the surface. Those of us in the west growing up in these times often look for our themes in the ending, in how things play out, but what I’ve found in Japanese myth (and other asian myths as well) is that there is equally as much meaning in the events leading up to the end and in the interactions of characters.

There were parts I had to cut (yes, even in a 9 panel strip) in order to relate the bulk of the tale while still getting to a joke. There are also many versions of the story. One has the princess leaving the mountain top to join the moon folk, her body becoming mist as she does so, and that is the smoke atop Fuji. Another has her sending a letter to the Emperor before she leaves and that being the one he sends with his retainers. There is also a large portion of the story dedicated to Kaguya sending various princely suitors on impossible quests. The story is in a ton of books and all over the internets.

Honestly, I’d love to do more strips like this; shorter, maybe, but with this sort of attention paid to the myth. This is my goal.