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1001 Stories Collection

The Hare in the Moon

1001 thehareinthemoon
Added on 29th June 2020

Oral tradition Indian folktale

Asia Animals
1001 , Audio , Text

A Jataka Tale from around 300 CE about the sacrifice one friend will make for another.


When Prince Siddhartha leaves his wealth behind to live a simple life, he gets lost in a forest and stumbles across a hare. The hare accompanies the Prince through the forest and notices that the Prince must be hungry, so offers to sacrifice himself so the prince can eat him. The Hare makes a fire out of wood and throws himself into it! The prince is left shocked – will he be able to save the hare?

Why we chose it

The Hare in the Moon was one of the stories chosen by Geraldine McCaughrean for our World Stories project with St Ebbes School in 2015.

Where it came from

The story is from the Jataka Tales which tell the story of the Buddha’s previous lives. In the Śaśa Jataka the hare gives up his body for a staving man. In Jataka Tale 316, a monkey, an otter, a jackal and a rabbit try to find food for beggars on the day of Upwasa. In this story, the rabbit sacrifices himself for God.

Where it went next

The story has become important to Asian culture. It influenced the robotic rabbit in the Transformers series Beast Wars II (1999). In the popular Dragon Ball animation, Son Goku defeats the rabbit enemy by taking him to the moon. It also encouraged Mid-Autumn Festivals in China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and Cambodia which celebrate the hare in the moon legend.

Associated stories

Versions of the story are also seen in the Japanese anthology Konjaku Monogatarishū where the hare has a fox companion. A similar story is also seen in the Chinese anthology Chu Ci where a toad and a hare on the moon pound herbs for the immortals. Rabbit and moon themes are also seen in Native American folklore.

Added on 29th June 2020

Oral tradition Indian folktale

Asia Animals
1001 , Audio , Text

Story Resources

  • The Hare in the Moon story text PDF (32.616 KB)