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Japanese fairy tales

There was once a little boy of the Ainu who was very wise. He seldom played with the other boys, for the spirits of things were his playmates. No one could see his playmates, but he talked to them and loved them better than all the children whom he knew.
"My friends tell me strange things," he said; and his mother asked, "Who are your friends and what strange things do they tell you, my child?"
"My friends are the spirits of things," the boy made answer. "I can not tell you what they say, but the spirit of the pine tree whispers to me the things the spirit of the north wind tells to him; the tall bamboo spirit bends down as the tree sways, and talks of the sun's glowing rays; the birds and blossoms speak to me of the earth's beauty. Even the common things have spirits and they tell me many things."
The boy's mother sighed as she looked at him, for she thought he was too wise.
One day the boy fell ill. He was very sick, but no one knew what was the matter with him. He drooped from day to day and seemed not to care for anything. And it was the winter time.
One day his mother came to him and said, "My son, the first plum blossom is seen upon the trees. The sun is warm. Will you not go out of doors to see it?"
"The plum blossom spirit whispered me of its com: ing," he said. "I will go and see."
Then he crept slowly from the little thatched hut and, resting at the door, he saw the plum blossom and smelled its delicious fragrance. He smiled a little and then a queer look came into his eyes. He held his chin in the palm of his hand and sat quietly nodding his head once or twice as if saying, "Yes."
At last his mother could bear no longer to be without his thoughts. She feared to lose him, and she felt jealous of everything that came near to him. "Tell me what you think, little son," she said.
"I will tell you," the boy answered. "Oftentimes a boy and girl come to play with me. They are Spirit Children and we play many things. To-day they have told me why I am ill. It is this. My grandfather had a fine axe. With it he made many things, a tray, and a pestle to pound millet, and others. But my father threw away the axe, forgetting how well it had served. Now it lies rusting, and the spirit of the axe is angry. Because the spirit of the axe is angry, it has made me ill. So, if you do not wish me to die, you must tell my father to seek the axe and do honor to its spirit."
"It shall be as you say, my son," said his mother, and she sought his father and told him all. Then he found the axe, and polished it carefully until it shone. He made for it a new handle of ironwood, and carved it with care. And to it he set up a worship stick. This stick was tall, and its feathers curled and waved in the breeze.
Then the spirit of the axe was happy, and the boy was made well, so that joy fell upon the soul of his mother.
And when he grew to be a man, he became a great augur, for the spirits of things came often to him and told him much that was concealed from other beings. For the spirits of things were his friends.