A WAY, away, ever so far away, near the western shores of the Ocean of Peace, lie the Happy Islands, the Paradise of Children.
Some people call this ocean the "Pacific" and they call the
Happy Islands "Japan," but the meaning is just the same. Those
are only their
They are truly Happy Islands, for the sun shines there so brightly that all the people go about with pleasant, smiling faces, and the children play out of doors the whole year through without ever quarreling. And they are never, never spanked! Of course, the reason for that is that they are so good they never, never need it! Or maybe their fathers and mothers do not believe in spanking.
I have even been told—though I don't know whether to think it's true or not—that Japanese parents believe more in sugar-plums than in punishments to make children good!
Anyway, the children there are very good indeed.
In a little town near a large city on one of the Happy Islands,
there is a garden. In the garden stands a house, and in that
House there live Taro, who is a boy, and Take
They are twins. They are Japanese Twins and they are just five years old, both of them.
Of course, Taro and Take do not live alone in the house in the garden. Their Father and Mother live there too, and their Grandmother, who is very old, and the Baby, who is very young.
Taro and Take cannot remember when Grandmother and Father and Mother happened, because they were all there when the Twins came; and the Twins could not possibly imagine the world without Father and Mother and Grandmother.
But with the Baby it was different. One day there wasn't any Baby at all, and the next day after that, there he was, looking very new but quite at home already in the little house in the garden, where Taro and Take lived.
"Taro" means eldest son, and the Baby might have been called "Jiro," because "Jiro" means "second," and he was the second boy in the family; but from the day he came they called him just "Bot'Chan." That is what they call boy babies in Japan.
"Take" means "bamboo," and the Twins' Father and Mother named their little daughter "Take" because they hoped she would grow up to be tall and slender and strong and graceful like the bamboo tree.
Now, can you think of anything nicer in this world than being Twins, and living with a Mother and Father and Grandmother and a Baby Brother, in a dear little house, in a dear little garden, in a dear little, queer little town in the middle of the Happy Islands that lie in the Ocean of Peace?
Taro and Take thought it was the nicest thing that could possibly have happened; though, as they hadn't ever lived anywhere else, or been anybody but themselves for a single minute, I don't see how they could be quite so sure about it.
This book is all about Taro and Take and the Baby, and what a nice time they had living. And if you want to know some of the things that happened on the very first day that the Twins and Bot'Chan ever saw each other you can turn over to the next page and read about the day the Baby came. That tells all about it, just exactly as it was.